On Thursday, April 23, Northampton Borough Council held its first virtual meeting. The meeting was open to the public, who was allowed to call in to ask questions or make comments.
The evening’s first order of business was to adopt Ordinance 1214, which approves amendment to the borough’s civil service rules and regulations. This ordinance enables the Civil Service Commission to begin the process of creating an eligibility list for open positions in the police department.
The police department, fire department, and other first responders in the borough have kept busy during the COVID-19 pandemic. The fire department has secured a new pontoon boat to help with water rescues. It has also continued to plan its annual block party, scheduled for Saturday, September 19 at the fire station located on Lerchenmiller Drive. In addition to emergency response, the fire department has been working with borough manager LeRoy Brobst to replenish personal protective equipment like masks.
“I appreciate all of LeRoy’s help with…our ongoing situation,” said Councilman Kenneth Hall. He is also Captain of the Fire Police. “[He has been] filling out forms [and] getting them out to the county for replenishment of PPEs weekly. He’s been a big help.”
Public works has also kept busy while attempting to navigate the new environment. Public works is staggered in two different crews working on different days. They wear masks and sanitize vehicles and equipment daily. Council wondered how the team could keep up with busy summer work.
“The work is really starting to build up,” said Councilman Anthony Lopsonzski, Sr. He recommended having two shifts per day so that work can continue with a second shift of employees.
“This way the work continues…not at a record breaking pace…but this way something will be done in a positive direction.”
It was an idea Brobst was supportive of.
“No one realizes more than I that we can’t go on having people work 20 hour weeks,” he said.
Other borough activities have not gone on as usual due to the pandemic. The River Central Comprehensive Plan has been put on hold until after pandemic and all rental unit inspections have been suspended until further notice. Meanwhile, the annual borough Easter egg hunt was canceled, but all of the candy was donated to the Northampton Area Food Bank, ensuring that children still had some sweet treats to look forward to.
There is no word yet on whether the borough pool will open for the season. A new pavilion was scheduled to be installed there this spring, but that has now been placed on hold until work is allowed to continue. A new sewer plant pump station was also scheduled to begin construction, but that also has been placed on hold.
Wheels on the Canal is still scheduled for May 16, but Brobst said organizers are aware that the event may not be able to move forward.
“As long as I have been working for the borough, I have never experienced anything like this,” said Brobst. “I will be certainly glad when this crisis has passed.”
He thanked the borough staff and borough first responders who have come to work everyday, dealing with the unexpected.
In the midst of the pandemic, the borough did receive exciting news from a new resident. The unnamed individual would like to donate benches for Main Street, to be placed along the bus route.
“This is a very generous offer,” said Brobst.
The individual is operating as a nonprofit organization. Solicitor Steven Goudsouzian recommended that the borough get more information and paperwork on who would be responsible for long-term maintenance.
“It is not a big deal, in my mind, to be responsible for [the maintenance of] benches,” he said, referring to the borough.
After the paperwork is in order and the gift is made, residents may be able to look forward to having some place to rest their legs when they can get back out on the town.