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Questions arise on pace of Allentown waste water treatment plant project

ALLENTOWN – A former Allentown councilman is questioning the pace at which a municipal project is advancing.

Wil Borkowski, whose term on the Borough Council ended in December, addressed Mayor Greg Westfall and council members during the Feb. 27 meeting of the governing body. He expressed concern about a plan to construct a new waste water treatment plant.

Borkowski said funding for the project was authorized, but he said it does not appear the work will be completed in 2018 and said it will go into 2019.

“Will there be an impact on our costs based on the fact the schedule has been moved forward?” he asked.

Councilman John Elder said the governing body hopes to have a report on the issue within a month. He said officials were going to discuss the waste water treatment plant project in an executive (closed) session later that evening.

Council President Thomas Fritts addressed Borkowski and said, “We have concerns that need to be addressed. I am not going to go into specifics. We are getting change orders before construction starts; you really have to pay attention to details. It is concerning.”

In a report to council, Councilman Rob Schmitt said progress is being made on a project that will see the borough’s old water meters replaced with new equipment. He said several types of meters and suppliers are being investigated, with the goal of putting the project out to bid during the summer and having the new meters installed at homes and businesses in the fall.

“The goal is to settle on a high quality meter that will be accurate,” he said.

Schmitt also reported on his attendance and representation of Allentown at an event in Trenton that focused on the legalization of cannabis in New Jersey. The Feb. 20 event was hosted by the New Jersey Cannabusiness Association.

The association is a business advocacy group for expanding access to medical cannabis and responsible adult use of cannabis. The goal of the event was to address thoughts and concerns public officials have about what legalization would mean for their municipalities, according to the association’s website.

Schmitt said there are many issues to be addressed regarding the topic, including how taxes generated by the sale of cannabis (marijuana) would be used, getting the federal government on board and all the medical uses that could be addressed, including the addition of medical conditions such as Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder.

In other business:

• Patrolman Christopher Poss was sworn in as a full-time officer in the Allentown Police Department;

• Council introduced an ordinance to create the position of detective in the Allentown Police Department. A public hearing on the ordinance will be held on March 13. The council may vote to adopt the ordinance that evening.

• Steve Gomba was sworn in as Allentown’s emergency management coordinator and Allentown Police Lt. Daniel Panckieri was sworn in as the deputy emergency management coordinator;

• Council authorized Roberts Engineering Group to complete work required for the 2017 water audit. The contract is in the amount of $2,500.

• Council authorized Roberts Engineering Group to complete work required for a Tier A NJDPES (water quality) storm water pollution prevention plan and a geographic information system outfall map. The contract is in the amount of $10,500.

• Council awarded a contract in the amount of $30,000 to AWT Environmental Services Inc. to perform work required in the waste water treatment plant berm removal and disposal. Officials said a lower bid was received from another company, but that company did not have approval to dispose of the material at an approved facility. Council members said AWT Environmental Services is authorized to dispose of the material at a facility that has been approved by the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection.

• Previously, the council passed a resolution supporting the Hope Fire Company’s grant application seeking $128,320 for permanent protective equipment for 30 firefighters. The fire company serves a 48-square-mile area with a population of 8,700 residents in Allentown and Upper Freehold Township. Funding is derived from residents, the governing bodies of the two municipalities and fundraisers. Allentown officials said while the fire company pays other costs, there is no funding available to acquire replacement equipment such as tools, vehicles and personal protective equipment and that is why the fire company’s directors are seeking the grant.

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