Allentown council rejects fire company’s request for water

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ALLENTOWN – The Allentown Borough Council has unanimously rejected a request from the Hope Fire Company, Upper Freehold Township, to provide 95,000 gallons of water for a free community event.

The event was expected to be held at the end of the 2018-19 school year, but now it will not take place, according to a representative of the fire company.

While expressing support for the fire company and its efforts to serve and protect Allentown and Upper Freehold Township, council members rejected the organization’s request for water based on their concern for the environment.

A discussion of the matter took place during the governing body’s March 12 meeting before all six council members voted “no” on a resolution that proposed to authorize the donation of water for the fire company’s community event.

According to the resolution, the event was planned to be held on the grounds of the Upper Freehold Regional School District and feature the spraying of water. The cost to Allentown to donate the water would be about $970.

Resident Bill Cotte, representing the Allentown Environmental Commission, asked the council not to donate the water, saying, “It doesn’t make environmental or financial sense.”

“This would be a complete waste of water,” Councilman John A. Elder III said. “I will be voting ‘no.’ I think they need to come up with another plan for a fundraiser.”

“We support the fire company and we like the idea of helping them, but we can’t support this,” Councilman Rob Schmitt said. “It’s not the money, it’s the conservation issue.”

“That’s a lot of water,” Councilman Robert Strovinsky said of the requested donation of 95,000 gallons. “Is there another way of doing this?”

“We should push it back and see if there’s a better solution,” council President Thomas Fritts said. “It’s a waste of water.”

When the resolution authorizing the donation of water to the fire company was put to a vote, Elder, Schmitt, Strovinsky, Fritts, Councilman Michael Drennan and Councilwoman Angela Anthony voted “no.”

Shire Ketterer, a social member of the Hope Fire Company who is on the Ways and Means Committee, responded to a request for comment from the Examiner.

Ketterer said, “We were looking to do a community event, similar to Crosswicks Splash Day, hosted by the Crosswicks Community Center and the Crosswicks Fire Department. I’m sorry the event was not completely explained at the meeting. I assumed it would have been since we were asking for permission to use a lot of water.

“The Splash Day would have consisted of having a truck spray water in the air and having the community kids run through the water and all the puddles it would have created for about two hours.

“We would have been working with the school on this event to celebrate the start of summer. At this moment the event will not be able to move forward due to water usage and insurance costs,” Ketterer said.