A home run is typically a cause for celebration, but not for the residents along Canal Street in Northampton. Since spring, fly balls from an adult softball league playing at Canal Park have damaged several homes and vehicles along the street.

The outfield fence at Canal Park is 320 feet away, but that distance is not enough for the adult leagues using the park. 

“These guys are cranking them out of there,” said Councilman Jason Donohue during Northampton Borough Council’s June 1 meeting. 

Borough Manager LeRoy Brobst said the borough had a previous issue at the 26th Street Playground. In that case, the borough pulled the league’s permit and asked them to find another home field. A similar decision, in council’s view, is in order. 

Brobst said leagues are warned of the risks when applying for a field permit. 

“[The team] is told at the beginning of the year ‘no Gorilla balls, no Gorilla bats.’”

Brobst and Borough Solicitor Brian Panella will work together on language to prohibit adult softball leagues from Canal Park, limiting the park only to youth leagues. 

In other news, Councilman Anthony Lopsonzski, Sr. took some time to explain his reasoning for suggesting a reduced pool fee for Catasauqua residents during a previous meeting. Council rejected the motion. However, Lopsonzski, Sr. said he has since received backlash online for his suggestion. 

“Catasauqua residents have endured a 50 percent rise in borough taxes,” he said. “My intention was to show that our community is sympathetic toward their community.”

He added that the reduced rate would still be more than what Northampton residents pay but less than what other out-of-town passes cost. 

Councilwoman Judith Haldeman said Lopsonzski’s idea was “honorable,” but with the motion previously rejected, “Catasauqua residents will have to pay like [other] out-of-towners.”

Motions approved during the meeting included an escrow release of over $11,000 to Schoolhouse Apartments on Main, LLC. The 1503 Main St. developer has completed all outstanding property requests required by the borough and its zoning.

“They have been a good neighbor,” Brobst said of the developer.

Council also approved an application for a Nor-Co Grant for $48,000. If awarded, this grant would be combined with an additional $20,000 grant to help the borough update its zoning ordinances as part of the River Central Comprehensive Plan. 

Meanwhile, Mayor Anthony Pristash announced that the Hometown Heroes banner program is starting again. The initial response was overwhelming and interest is still rampant.

“I would hate to see anyone turned away,” Mayor Pristash said, adding that this program helps “build a more patriotic Northampton.”

Finally, Mayor Pristash and council bid farewell to Junior Council Representative Ryleigh Tillotson. A graduate of the Northampton Area High School Class of 2023, Tillotson’s two-year term will conclude at the end of June. 

“From here on, everyone is going to build on the back of what you have done,” Mayor Pristash told Tillotson. 

The mayor’s sentiments were echoed by every member of council. 

“[Tillotson] will have a very successful career,” said Lopsonzski, Sr. He added that she has gotten first-hand experience of government, public service and the importance of collaboration.

During her public comments, Tillotson thanked the council for their support and recognized her fellow graduates.

“Without my class…my friends…I would not be the person I am today,” she said. “I hope everyone in the community appreciates what our class has done.”

Brobst is working with the guidance office at NAHS to appoint a new junior council representative to start their term in September. 

All of council agreed: the new student will have the support of a strong foundation built by Tillotson and “big shoes to fill.”

The next Borough Council meeting will be Thursday, June 15 at 7 p.m.


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