|"Hope Road never Gives Up," says the sign held by|
Bethlehem Boating Club's Allen Koszi, Jr.
Over 50 people, including volunteer firefighters and a large contingent from the Bethlehem Boating Club, packed the house. A group of Ninth Street residents who have experienced broken windows caused by water pressure are so concerned that they asked distinguished Bethlehem Attorney Tom Maloney to join them at the meeting.
|At least 50 people concerned bout stormwaters attended.|
|Att'y Tom Maloney complimented Board|
On June 15, in the middle of a meeting, between four and five inches of rain fell within the Township over the course of just three hours. Entire sections of roadway were washed out as the Township ran out of barricades to warn passing motorists. The township spent $140,000 in emergency road repairs.
In a memo to Commissioners, Manager Melissa Shafer noted that there were complaints from 37 different areas within the township. In addition, there were 15 sinkholes. "Impervious areas, lack of stormwater infrastructure in our older neighborhoods, undersized existing stormwater facilities and the shrinking capacity of Nancy Run Creek all contribute to the flooding issues," she reported.
Zawarksi stated that if you drew a 400' radius through each of the 37 problem areas and colored it orange, the entire township would be bathed in orange.
One of Zawarski's proposals calls for the possibility of a fee, possibly based on assessment, that would target every property owner. Even exempt properties like St. Luke's and Northampton Community College would be forced to contribute under recent revisions to state law.
Attorney Maloney, who confessed he does not go out at night anymore, told Commissioners that "I've been rewarded. It appears to have your highest priority." He recommended that Commissioners stop beating themselves up about failures in the past. "Put your character at issue and promptly seek remedies," he advised.
Just in case Commissioners needed to hear more about Waterworld, people share their stories.
Richard Straubuller spoke of the poorly maintained retention pond in his Wagner Farms condo, a new development that is not quite a dozen years old. He complained of clogged grates and trees growing up in the pond. He had to chase two boys away from cleaning the grates out of concern for their safety. He has complained to the Township three times, to no effect.
Suzanne Van Billiard, who lives on Kelchner Avenue, complained that she has been asking the township for help for 22 years. "Our house becomes an island," she declared. Though the Township is supposed to maintain a nearby swale, Van Billiard insists it has done nothing and that pieces of her property are literally cut away during storms. Over the years, storm waters have carried a 260-pound sand box to what's left of her yard, along with someone's shed. She has even been the recipient of copy fish washed out of someone's pond.
Allen Koszi spoke on behalf of the Bethlehem Boating Club, which is at the terminus of Hope Road. Tyne next stop after that is the Lehigh River. In 2011, Hurricane Irene wiped out most of Hope Road. Koszi noted that PennDOT installed a swale that parallels Hope Road, but it stops short. Abandon hope, all ye who transgress beyond that point during a downpour. This failure cost his club $5,500 for repairs following the June 15 storm, where access to the club was washed out.
Some of the regulars were in no mood to applaud Commissioners.Barry Roth called the proposed study a "waste of time." Chetwin Terrace resident Wayne Kresge was unhappy that he had come to meetings for two years before anything happened. "Why has it taken two years?" he demanded. "It goes in one ear and out the other," added Roy Roth.. Martin Comer even insulted the residents who came. "Nice to see all the people here," he started out, sweetly enough. "Where were you when all the developers came?" he zinged.
Later in the meeting, Commissioners unanimously approved a proposal to join Freemansburg in seeking a stormwater planning grant, with half of the money coming from Northampton County's newly established Community Investment Partnership Program and the other half coming from the state. This grant would deal with the area along the intersection of Willow Park Road and Easton Avenue, which becomes a raging river during downpours. It us is where Debra LaForm was swept away by stormwaters in 1977.