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Whitehall plan to oppose lease of Allentown water and sewer moves forward

By Len Righi, WFMZ.com Reporter
Published On: Oct 01 2012 10:05:08 PM CDT
Updated On: Oct 02 2012 08:18:45 AM CDT
Whitehall commissioners meeting
WHITEHALL TWP., Pa. -

Allentown Mayor Ed Pawlowski's idea to lease the city's water and sewer system is getting static from officials of a community that depends on the city for wastewater treatment.

Whitehall Township commissioners floated a resolution opposing Pawlowski's plan at a workshop meeting Monday night, and decided to place it on the agenda for their meeting on Oct. 8.

Several board members agreed with fellow commissioner Philip Ginder that the resolution "doesn't have any teeth" as far as compelling Allentown City Council to torpedo Pawlowski's proposal, which the mayor says would solve the city's looming pension fund payment problem. "Frankly, I don't even think [Allentown council members] will use this [resolution] as fireplace fodder," Ginder deadpanned.

But, the commissioners said, the resolution is a way to show the Coplay Whitehall Sewer Authority that, as Ginder put it, "we're in their corner."

While Allentown provides only a few Whitehall residents with water, the city treats all of the township's wastewater, Mayor Ed Hozza said.

Commissioners are concerned that if the city enters into a lease, sewer authority rate payers will see their bills skyrocket in the long term.

"The sewer authority has the responsibility to make sure all agreements [with Allentown] are in place in a new contract," Hozza said. "It's the number one priority."

Commissioners' chairman Linda Snyder added, "The rate payers of Whitehall Township do not want to pay Allentown's pension obligation."

In other business, Ginder asked the public for help in finding a scaffold that was stolen from a workman restoring a rail car in the Whitehall Parkway on the Ironton Rail Trail.

"This is bad," said Grinder with disgust. "The man is doing the work for free, at no cost to the township, and someone steals his tools. ... With any luck, public flogging will come back to Whitehall Township."

Commissioner Paul Geissinger asked township officials if anything could be done about workers at the Fellowship Manor retirement and nursing home development who have been seen tossing cigarette butts at nearby Zephyr Park.

Geissinger said Fellowship workers sit on the benches at the park's baseball field and create "a disgusting looking mess" with their litter.

Hozza said he would contact Fellowship officials about the problem.