East Allen Township Supervisors held their first public meeting since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic and quarantine. The meeting was held virtually via Zoom on Wednesday, April 8, a first for the township and its residents. Over a dozen township residents attended the virtual meeting.
All supervisors were present. For many, the new format required a slight adjustment.
“If I use the gavel, I’ll probably smash my screen,” joked Supervisor Roger Unangst.
Most orders of business revolved around COVID-19. Supervisors officially approved the township’s Declaration of Emergency in response to the pandemic. This allows the township to modify labor contract agreements and seek reimbursement for PPE and other protective equipment. Costs for masks, gloves, and disinfectant for first-responders is expected to cost about $30,000.
“I’m not sure where this ends and where we go,” said Supervisor Brent Green. “[But] there is definitely some hope on the horizon.”
The declaration will be in effect for 180 days.
During this time, the township office is closed and staff is working remotely. Green warned that there is a mail backlog in order to prevent contamination.
Currently, there is no zoning code officer or building official since the third-party organization the township uses has furloughed employees. As a result, no zoning permits are being accepted at this time.
Other work on hold in the township includes the demolition of the former juvenile detention facility on Weaversville Road. The demolition of the farmhouse on the property has been halted. The building must first be abated before it can be razed. Green said the township is considering extending the contract beyond June 1.
A halt on contract work is in effect township-wide, following Governor Tom Wolf’s orders. Green said if contractors are caught working, the township will forward those complaints to Pennsylvania State Police.
Meanwhile, public works is on-call for emergencies. They are still doing some routine tasks like grass cutting, but are practicing social distancing and wearing masks.
Sports, summer camp, and park rentals are being evaluated to determine whether they can move forward.
Green recommended that the base tax period for township residents be extended through the end of the year to help alleviate a burden placed on township residents, especially those who may be out of work. Piperato will be putting legal language on this recommendation together for supervisors to vote on.
Green added that there have been no confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the township, but all employees are staying cautious.
“As far as I’m aware, there have been no confirmed cases in East Allen,” he said. “But that doesn’t mean people don’t have it.”
Green and first responders are meeting at least three times every week to go over issues and equipment inventory to ensure the public is kept safe.
Supervisors thanked Green for his time, but he insisted that no thanks was necessary.
“It is just part of the job,” he said. “What we really need is for individuals to recognize the need of ambulance workers and firefighters [at this time],” he stressed.
The township was already low on volunteers before the pandemic hit. Now, they are facing an even greater burden.
“Thank them…Get involved,” he said. “They are hurting.”