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Hellertown will build dozens of new handicapped ramps

By Cristiano Lima, WFMZ.com Reporter
Published On: Nov 19 2013 05:13:23 AM CST
Hellertown council
HELLERTOWN, Pa. -

The Hellertown Council amended an ordinance at Monday’s meeting to build 26 handicap ramps throughout the Borough in addition to the previously proposed 16.

They will be placed along Easton Street and extend to Dimmick Park.

The Borough was allocated $80,000 for the construction project by the state but was able to attain the service through a community bid of $31,497, creating the excess funds that will now be used to build the remaining 26.

The construction, however, will require an additional $15,000 out of pocket from the Borough.

“We’re getting more sidewalks at a lower rate,” said Council President Philip Weber.

He went on to explain that the Borough had previously been instructed to build more handicap ramps due to failing to comply with state standards for handicap accessibility. “There is an agreement we are dedicated to fulfill,” said Weber.

“So we spend $15,000 now to save $100,000 later,” said Council member Gail Nolf of the potential benefits of paying the out of pocket cost.

The council members debated whether it would be more prudent to spend the pre-allocated construction money now in spite of costs or to delay the supplementary construction indefinitely.

“Personally, send the money back,” said Council Vice-President John Bates. “I’m not comfortable with this contractor as it is…I can’t justify spending $15,000 for $26,000 worth of ramps.”

Others, however, expressed concern that the project would become immediately outdated.

“By the time we put these in, these will be out of code,” said Council member Thomas Rieger.

“There’s no ramps at all at most of these locations,” replied Borough engineer Bryan Smith.

The vote carried on a 5-2 majority, with councilmen John Bates and Thomas Rieger dissenting.

In other business, the Council also approved an ordinance to amend the Borough’s gun possession regulation in local public parks to match Pennsylvania’s state practice of open carry.

The Council also voted to reject renovation plans for the municipality’s office buildings, opting instead to table the discussion until more information on the amount of space needed for the public works department was gathered.

“I think everyone here knows we need to do something. I don’t think this is that something,” said Rieger of the motion on the floor. Others suggested potential alternatives.

“We’ve been spinning this for a while,” said Nolf. “I’d really like to see the police department have their own building.”

The Council agreed to revisit the item on the 2014 agenda. The next meeting will be on Monday, December 2.