During their meeting on Tuesday, October 24, the Allen Township Board of Supervisors approved two measures that would bring noticeable changes to the municipality. The first was approving a $6.8 million loan, enabling the township to completely renovate its municipal building and fire station. The second was granting preliminary/final plan approval for the proposed Wawa at Route 329 and Savage Road.
Since moving their meeting room from an old school building on Indian Trail Road to the fire station on Howertown Road, supervisors have regularly discussed ways to restore and renovate the new municipal building, making it more accessible and welcoming for residents and more efficient and usable for township administration.
The township is working with D’Huy Engineering on this renovation project. However, significant updates will be needed, including new office construction, separate entrances for the fire station and municipal building, and asbestos removal. The entire project is estimated to cost $8,825,250.
During the meeting, supervisors approved a loan from Northern Bank & Trust for $6,825,250 to help cover some of these costs. In addition, the township is currently applying for local and statewide LSA grants that would defray some of these expenses. While the prospect of a new building was exciting for supervisors, not all were thrilled with the interest rate the township would be paying.
The loan has a 5.99% interest rate for five years. This equals roughly $2 million in interest.
“That is a lot of money for Allen Township,” said Supervisor Gary Behler. “That is our yearly budget.”
He said he struggled with this high number, adding that the township would get nothing in return.
Supervisor Paul Link, however, cautioned against sticker shock. He said everyone who owns property must pay interest. The only difference is not everyone has a mortgage for $6 million. This total, he said, is for five years, and will guarantee a new building.
Other supervisors cautioned against waiting, as interest rates and costs of goods continue to rise.
“It’s a hard pill to swallow,” said Supervisor Dale Hassler, “but waiting is going to push us back.”
All supervisors except Behler approved the loan.
During the meeting, D’Huy Engineering was on hand to explain the next steps. They plan to accept construction bids after Thanksgiving and start construction in March 2024.
Not only will the municipal building look different in 2024, but so will the corner of Savage Road and Route 329. During the meeting, supervisors approved the preliminary/final land development plan for a future Wawa at the site.
“I know there is diametric opposition,” said a legal representative for the developer, Erich Schock, referring to a right-turn exit onto Savage Road. “But we proposed what we think is appropriate.”
Hassler has remained firm in his opposition to this traffic plan.
“The engineers say this could happen,” he said. “I know what is happening.” He worries about traffic flowing to Atlas Road and causing accidents at Weaversville Road.
Hassler asked why a new Wawa in Quakertown could feature an exit onto Route 309, but Allen Township’s Wawa was forbidden from constructing one onto Route 329 by PennDOT.
“Someone is not telling the truth,” Hassler said of PennDOT. “There are two sets of standards.”
Schock explained that the development team was frustrated by this as well, agreeing that there is a lack of consistency in PennDOT standards. While they would have preferred an exit onto Route 329, their exit on Savage Road was a “fallback.”
All supervisors approved the plan, except for Hassler.
The next Board of Supervisors meeting will be Tuesday, November 14 at 6 p.m.