In 2021, the Allen Township Board of Supervisors moved operations and public meetings to the social hall on the second floor of the township fire building at 3530 Howertown Rd. Now, supervisors and Township Manager Ilene Eckhart are pondering ways to renovate the space for public meetings, administrative work, and township needs. They discussed these possibilities during their March 5 public meeting.
Eckhart says the board needs to develop a scope and list of improvements they would like done before the township requests proposals or applies for grants.
Public works will take over the previous municipal building. Once a one-room schoolhouse, the building was not large enough to meet the needs of the township. In addition, Eckhart worried about public safety. The 2-acre property the building sits on is where public works keeps its equipment, including vehicles and salt sheds.
Using the larger fire hall as the new municipal building not only provides a more centralized location for all township residents but gives the township’s public works crew the space and security they need to perform their duties.
While all supervisors agreed that the previous property posed issues, Supervisor Gary Behler worried about the repercussions of dividing up the large social hall, which serves as a meeting space for nearby municipalities, as well as a voting location.
“I’m not so sure we really want to divide up this room,” he said. “I think we’re really going to need a lot of space here.”
He wondered whether the township could construct a smaller building on the property for administrative purposes. Several other supervisors agreed.
Supervisor Dale Hassler said he believed the social hall could be repurposed and still maintain most of its size. He recommended administrative offices, conference rooms, or training rooms where the bar and kitchen currently stand.
“[We] still would not lose a lot of the hall,” he said.
Eckhart said she’ll be reaching out to a neighboring municipality that knows quite a bit about repurposing an existing building into a modern municipal building: Bath. In 2018, through volunteer support, the borough turned a beer distribution building into its new municipal office.
“They got a little creative down there,” Eckhart said. She will reach out to Bath Borough, in addition to several firms who may be able to help map out the existing property and its utilities.
“We got the land, we got the property,” said Behler. “We’re in no hurry. Let’s do it right.”
In other news, engineer Andrea Martin said the township’s Joint Act 537 plan with Northampton was submitted to the planning commission. A 60-day review period is now in effect, and the plan will also be advertised for public review. The public has 30 days to review and submit written comments.
The plan will be available at the Allen Township and Northampton Borough municipal buildings. Comments must be submitted in writing to Eckhart, or LeRoy Brobst, Northampton Borough Manager. Once collected, comments will be delivered to municipal engineers before the municipalities vote to adopt the final plan. Then the plan is submitted to the Pennsylvania Department of Environment Protection.
Martin said she will explore whether residents can submit electronic comments.
Also discussed during the March 5 meeting was the addition of an agricultural security zone in the township. The Gaugler/Mann farm property at Mud Lane and Seemsville Road filed a request to zone 57.5 acres as agricultural. This zone grants certain protections as long as the property meets agricultural uses. The board approved this request unanimously.
Finally, the board is advertising job openings for part-time seasonal road crew employees. Applicants can be high school or college-aged. Primary duties will include grass cutting.
The next Allen Township Board of Supervisors meeting will be Tuesday, March 22 at 7 p.m. During this time, developers from Willowbrook Farms will return to continue their curative amendment hearing.