During their March 17 meeting, the Northampton Borough Council received a presentation from Victor Rodite, community planner. Rodite has been instrumental in helping the borough apply for and receive grants for community improvements like parks, pavilions, and infrastructure.
The borough has recently been awarded an $80,000 grant from the Community Development Block Program. Rodite presented several ideas for improvements to council and asked them to start exploring projects they would like to see done.
Rodite suggested several park improvements, including new bathrooms or pavilions at the northern end of Canal Street Park. However, some councilmembers worried about ongoing vandalism at the park, which has been closed since 2021. Rodite said that monitoring, such as cameras, could possibly be purchased with grant money.
Plans are currently underway to turn the park into a garden as a means of eliminating the vandalism.
“This is going to be a garden,” Borough Manager LeRoy Brobst reminded council. “It will not be conducive to running amuck.”
Councilman Anthony Lopsonzski, Sr. wondered whether grant money could go toward a tourist bureau. Meanwhile, Councilman Robert Glassic said he would like to see grant money go toward the borough’s infrastructure, like its sewer plant.
“We cannot keep pushing it off,” he told his fellow councilmembers. “We really need to be looking at our infrastructure first.”
Council will be working together to compile their ideas and present them to Rodite.
Also during the meeting, a report on the state of the borough’s fire department, fire police, and regional EMS was delivered by Councilwoman Judy Kutzler.
“We use more mutual aid than we give,” she reported, asking the borough to consider where their fire department will be in “five years.”
She added that volunteerism and fundraising are both at below-average levels.
“If you get five volunteers, you are lucky if one stays around,” she said. She thanked fellow Councilman Kenneth Hall, Fire Police Chief, for keeping “the fire police alive…with 15 to 16 volunteers.”
A new truck is slated to be purchased in 2027 to replace a 1999 rescue truck. The department also purchased a utility truck with COVID grant money that they intend to refurbish. However, equipment is the number one priority for the volunteers. Kutzler said that every volunteer should receive new equipment that fits them.
The future of the EMS in the borough is also of concern. Kutzler voiced worry that the Northampton Regional EMS on Canal Street may one day move out of the borough or be bought out by another organization.
She asked council to start considering these situations now before it is too late.
“You have to plan,” she said. “You cannot sit and feel complacent.”
In other news, the fire police were approved for a fundraising event at the Lehigh Valley IronPigs. Throughout the season, they will be helping at the concession stands.
Several upcoming dates were also announced. The Planning Commission will meet on Wednesday, April 13 to review the Joint Act 537 Plan. Meanwhile, a shredding event will be on April 30 from 10 a.m. to noon at the Northampton Community Center. Finally, swimming pool passes will be available at the recreation center beginning on May 1.
The next Northampton Borough Council meeting will be on April 7 at 7:30 p.m.