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Northampton Borough's Historical Society faces uncertain financial future

By Olivia Albright, Assignment Editor / Web Producer, OAlbright@wfmz.com
Published On: Nov 07 2013 10:36:24 PM CST
Updated On: Nov 08 2013 06:33:17 AM CST
Northampton Council
NORTHAMPTON, Pa. -

The Northampton Area Historical Society is facing a serious revenue shortage. A recipient of funds from the countywide hotel tax, the Historical Society, was recently denied further access to these monies after eight years of approval.

“We still have the money from this year, but then we are at a standstill,” Irene Urban, representing the Historical Society, said.

Urban went on to note that the Historical Society has made several renovations to the Siegfried Train Station that serves as the group’s home base. Their plans to renovate the west side of the building and deal with storm water issues will no longer be possible without the hotel tax support.

Northampton County denied the Historical Society access to the hotel tax because of the relative instability of their short-term leases with Norfolk Southern, who owns the building. The Historical Society has partnered in year-to-year leases with Norfolk Southern since the group’s inception in 1976.

Urban addressed the Northampton Borough Council at its meeting Thursday night to seek assistance from the borough within which the train station and the Historical Society are located.

William McCarthy, the borough solicitor, explained that he wrote a letter to a Norfolk Southern representative to invite open dialogue to figure out a long-term lease for funding or the possibility of the borough buying the train station.

“I think this is the catalyst for the unfunding from the county who funded you before,” McCarthy said. “But we need to get visitors there. The Historical Society is a part of Northampton’s history.”

The council agreed to continue working with Urban and the Historical Society to find a way to keep the program funded.

The Historical Society is open from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Saturdays and 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. on Sundays. It is hosting special Christmas events on December 7, 8, 14 and 15.