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Neighborhood park creates heated debate in Upper Macungie Township

By Stephen Althouse, WFMZ.com Reporter, news@wfmz.com
Published On: May 02 2013 11:00:28 PM CDT
UPPER MACUNGIE TWP., Pa. -

A contentious and lengthy debate between Kay Brook Green Hills Community Association and Upper Macungie Township came to an end when the township took ownership of the Green Hills Park during Thursday night’s Board of Supervisors’ meeting.

Noting that there “really is no perfect solution” Vice Chairman Sam Ashmar introduced a motion that the township acquire the 3.5 acre Russett Road park, replace the swing set currently on the premises and that the township would meet with the Pool Association to discuss “how we can partner to maintain grass cutting."

“The intent is to keep the park exactly what it was meant to do, which is be a park for the residents,” Ashmar said. “In the spirit of cooperation this is the best solution I can come up with.”

President Edward Earley and Secretary Kathy Rader agreed, and the motion passed 3-0, to the delight of several members of the Community and Pool Associations, who thanked supervisors for their decision and applauded the actual vote afterward.

The Community Association is about to dissolve and with it is the legal transfer of the park to the township, according to the park deed. The Pool Association is a separate entity from the park association,

In other business, supervisors granted preliminary, but not final approval to a resubmission of land development lot consolidation plans for Lehigh Hills, which had been approved by the Planning Commission last month. Chris Falencki, of Weiser Engineering Consultants, based in Reading, made the presentation that would add two new retail buildings adjacent to Fogelsville Weis Market, which opened Dec. 9, 2012.

His requests centered around curbing, guiderail and landscaping issues. Falencki attempted to push off the installation of guiderails around an area with a 13-foot drop for six months if and when supervisors determined it would be needed.

“We have a lot of accidents in this township,” Ashmar said to Falencki. “Safety is above all. Somebody goes over a 13-foot drop in a car, it’s not necessarily going to be a good outcome.”

While discussion centered on other options for safety, such as boulders, Falencki said the only PennDOT approved barrier for cars was a guiderail. Ashmar continued with his counter argument.

“That’s a significant drop,” Ashmar said.

“Well, you have to understand now that you first have to go over almost 20 feet before that and it’s 35 mph and you’re going uphill,” Falencki said.

Supervisors were unwilling to compromise on the issue, however, with Ashmar noting it was a “safety issue” and Falencki relented the point, agreeing to install the guiderail from the start.