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Twp. Will Spend $55,000 to Extend Water Lines

Lower Mac commissioners agreed in a contentious split vote to help fund the extension of its infrastructure that some said should have been done years ago.

Lower Macungie commissioners voted Sept. 6 in favor of making a financial investment to extend water lines in the vicinity of Brookside and Indian Creek roads.

However, the vote was contentious as Commissioner Doug Brown challenged the wisdom of laying out about $55,000 for the project.

Supporters of the project questioned the safety of the hundreds of children who visit the facility every day because there currently are no fire hydrants serving the .

The safety concern extends to township workers as well since there are no fire hydrants that protect the either.

Dale Dries, owner of , approached the Board of Commissioners Thursday to enlist the township's financial help with a project that will allow him to develop the property adjacent to his store.

Commissioner Jim Lanscek led the debate by saying the township's public works committee, on which he sits, supports the project.

"This should have been done by the township when the library was built," Lanscek said, "If we had followed our own rules, it would have been."

But Commissioner Doug Brown questioned the financial wisdom of township support, saying there must have been a reason the then-township supervisors didn't do it.

Lanscek -- who was the township's zoning officer at the time the decision was made more than 10 years ago -- said the supervisors thought it was too expensive. Bill Erdman, township engineer then and now, confirmed the reason for the decision.

The project will cost approximately $300,000. The Lehigh County Authority will pay $150,000 and Dries will pay $100,000.

The remaining $54,534 is the amount Dries asked the BOC to contribute. It would become part of the 2013 budget.

Brown wanted to know what the advantage would be to the township, noting the community improvement would not generate any profit for Lower Macungie.

"Fire hydrants for public buildings," Engineer Bud Newton, who represented Dries, said.

Commissioner Roger Reis, who also sits on the Public Works Committee, agreed that it's a lot of money.

"But this should have been done. But between the number of people who use the library and township employees who work here and at the public works building, I feel an obligation to have a safe place. I like the idea of getting water there," Reis said.

Former Commissioner Joseph Pugliese approached the board. A fiscal conservative, his tenure ended in December 2011.

"For every dollar the township puts into this project it will get $5 back," Pugliese said.

"It's a great value...I'm surprised that we have a library full of children every day and a facility worth tens of millions of dollars [that is not already protected]. It is foolish not to spend $55,000 to safeguard millions. I urge the board to support this. We need to protect our investment," Pugliese said.

Commissioners Lanscek, Reis and Ryan Conrad voted in favor of funding the project.

Brown voted no.

Commissioner Ron Eichenberg abstained from discussion and voting because he is involved with the development of the Dries property. 

Ron Beitler September 11, 2012 at 12:30 PM
I think the right decision was made. But not for Lancseks reasoning of correcting a wrong from 11 years ago. Though I get that, I think the requirement he's referring to... that a developer must run services through their property to make it easier for adjoining landowners to connect is "sprawl" policy. It encourages fringe greenfield development further and further out from our existing infrastructure when we now should be concentrating on in-fill development and diversifying our tax base rather then building warehouse kingdoms in the hinterlands. I agree with Brown we shouldn't spend this 50,000 dollars for the benefit of a landowner. BUT this is is the right decision for another reason.... because it protects further the MAJOR investment our community has made in the community center, muni building and public works building. LCA and Dries are matching every dollar nearly 6-1. Important to note, the building is protected now from my understanding by a sprinkler system. But the system is fed from a large water tank. (All these buildings are on well now) Although there is fire suppression now, hydrants will offer further protection. That additional protection of a major investment, savings in insurance because of that added protection and the matching of tax dollars 6-1 makes this a winner.
Ron Beitler September 11, 2012 at 12:32 PM
Note: Eichenberg recused himself because he is the realtor on this property. 2 items: 1 - Although not required I feel he should have stated this at the meeting. and 2 - He openly commented on this matter the week before supporting it. When a financial conflict is clearly present Commissioners should completely remove themselves from any discussion on a topic. IMO. By not doing so, esp when another Commissioner questioned the logic of taxpayer money being spent on aiding a development project...and another commissioner has financial interest... it just muddies up everything.
Scott Alderfer September 11, 2012 at 03:40 PM
Ron, you hit the nail on the head. This is a $54K investment to protect the community center building (which houses thousands of flammable books in the library) and the admin building. I would be surprised if there was not a fire insurance credit in making the move from a fire suppression system fed by a cistern versus a system feed by a well-pressurized public water main.
KilgoreTrout September 11, 2012 at 11:59 PM
Holy Snickerdoodles ! I don't think many people know that the township buildings were not served by regular water lines. When will LMT finally get into the 20th Century??? (I've given up on the one in which we live.)

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