After concerns were previously raised regarding the safety of the D&L trail, Northampton’s Mayor Tony Pristash took the time to investigate the trail, speak to local police chiefs, and ease residents’ concerns.
“Everyone reported that the trail is growing, it is popular, and it is safe,” he said during the June 16 Borough Council meeting.
The D&L Trail stretches over 165 miles along the Delaware and Lehigh Rivers. The most popular stretch of trail is the one that runs from Catasauqua to the tourist town of Jim Thorpe. It is a favorite spot for bikers, hikers, and sightseers. Northampton Borough, as a result, has seen an uptick in foot traffic.
While this increase in traffic may have caused safety questions for some residents, Pristash said he spoke with police chiefs across the region, all within municipalities that include the trail. According to their reports, there have been zero arrests or incidents of criminal activity (other than the occasional graffiti).
“The more people on the trail,” said Pristash, “the safer it is.”
Like the trail, uptown businesses are also seeing more traffic. Pristash said he spoke with local business and restaurant owners who often have bikes parked in front of their establishments as bikers purchase snacks, drink, or sit down for a break.
“It is a phenomenal asset to the borough to have that [trail],” Pristash continued.
Interested residents can pick up brand-new trail maps at the Northampton Borough building. Northampton police officers on bike patrol will also have maps to hand out.
In other news, borough council unanimously agreed to appoint Kelly Milisits to the Civil Service Commission. Milisits is a longtime resident of the borough. With her husband, John, she helps run the Alliance Fire Hall. She is also a church volunteer and a familiar face at the local Catholic schools, where her children attended classes.
“Sacrifice and patience are attributes I know all too well,” she said in her nomination speech to council.
“I have known Kelly since she was 16,” said Councilwoman Judy Kutzler. “I appreciate you and what you are doing for the community.”
When Councilman Anthony Lopsonzski, Sr. asked her thoughts on police funding, Milisits said she believes that the “police need our support now more than ever.”
She told council that Northampton will “always hold a special place in my heart” and that she hopes this new position will allow her to “fully connect with other residents.”
Another vote held during the meeting was on whether the borough should start preparing council chambers for live stream capabilities. Live broadcasts and recordings would allow residents to view council meetings online via Facebook, YouTube, or other means. However, they would not be able to participate. Funding for the live stream system would come from the American Rescue Act.
Council voted 6-2 in favor of live streaming meetings. Councilman Trevor Stone, who voted against the motion, said he would prefer that residents attend meetings in person and participate.
Finally, council voted 5-3 against a new summer meeting schedule. In the past, council has typically met only on the third Thursday of the month in July and August. However, they broke with tradition this year by rejecting the shortened summer meeting schedule and keeping with two meetings per month.
The next Northampton Borough Council meeting will be Thursday, July 7, at 7:30 p.m.