Bethlehem Township Volunteer Fire Co. (BTVFC) Engine 1742 was first placed in service in 1995, it was a four-wheel drive behemoth capable of traveling off road to deliver a 500 gallon payload. In addition to extinguishing brush fires, its off road capabilities made it suitable for accidents in which cars are knocked off the highway. But after a 2002 accident that caused significant damage, firefighters can no longer use it as a front line resource. "You can run faster than it goes up a hill," Fire Chief Dave Stapinski told Commissioners at their July 2 meeting. He's also concerned that this truck would be unable to fight fires at some warehouses along Brodhead Road, where forklifts are charged in the back of buildings on uneven surfaces. After hearing these details, Commissioners voted 4-0 to authorize the Fire Company to purchase a new truck.
President Michael Hudak was absent.
This purchase was tabled two weeks ago when Commissioners said they'd like more information. This upset firefighters, who complained that the Board already approved a $10 million line of credit for this and other purchases in 2014.
"These are the guys who are getting out of bed and aren't getting paid and they protect all of us," said resident Barry Roth. "We need to have a better relation with these guys. They are not our enemy."
Commissioners also awarded a carpentry contract for the restoration of the Archibald Johnston Mansion at Housenick Park. Contek Construction,based in Macungie, was the sole bidder of a contract that could be as high as $334,475.
Commissioners also endorsed a $57,000 agreement with the Wildlands Conservancy for the restoration of a Nancy Run tributary at the Municipal Park. Wildlands plans to create a wildflower meadow along both sides of Nancy Run at the entrance of the park. Traveling wast and around the community center, the plan is to restore the stream bed followed by the planting of trees, shrubbery and wildflowers.
According to The Wildlands, erosion and sedimentation are evident in Nancy Run as a result of stormwater runoff and poor management practices. Trees and wildflowers are believed to provide streambank stabilization, erosion control, flood plain storage during storms, wildlife habitat, run off filtration and aesthetic appeal to some people. This lowers the water temperature, making even a small stream more attractive to brook trout.
To be sure, riparian buffers also make it harder to see or access a stream, and for that reason, I'd support a plan that would allow access so people can wade or just dip their feet on a hot summer day.
The Wildlands has applied for grants to fund half the cost of this project, with the rest coming from the Township.
According to Penn State Extension, riparian buffers are the best way to protect the health of waterways, livestock, adjacent property, and all who drink and use water downstream.