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Council declines crowd limit waiver request

Northampton Borough Council, at its meeting June 18, declined a request from Northampton Area School District to waive the state-mandated crowd limitations for the upcoming Class of 2020 commencement, scheduled for July 24 at Al Erdosy Stadium.

“I received a call from Northampton Area School District Superintendent Joseph Kovalchik, and he explained the school is anticipating holding a graduation celebration at Al Erdosy field July 24,” borough Manager LeRoy Brobst said. “For this to occur, borough council can waive the limitations for an event.”

Although Northampton County is expected to move to the green phase of Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf’s plan to reopen the state, crowd sizes are limited to no more than 250 people.

“The school district will otherwise maintain all Centers for Disease Control and Prevention protocol, including social distancing, hand sanitizing and masks,” Brobst continued. “The graduates would sit on the field, and the guests - limited two per graduate - would be spaced out in the bleacher seats to ensure social distancing.”

Councilwoman Judy Kutzler said she believed any issue or ruling involving coronavirus pandemic mandates should be made by the county or state, not the borough.

The borough itself remains under guidelines set by Wolf, such as the closure of the borough hall and other facilities. The June 18 meeting was the first in-person gathering of council in three months. The meeting was held at the municipal building, 1401 Laubach Ave.

Councilman Robert McHale and borough Solicitor Steve Goudsouzian were not present at the meeting but participated via telephone.

In other business, Councilman Kenneth Hall, fire police captain, requested a second fire police vehicle for its personnel. He said the borough volunteers respond to calls on a 24-hour basis throughout the year.

The borough did provide a new box truck for the fire police in recent years.

Brobst said there is no funding in the budget for such a purchase this year but noted there could be a vehicle the borough has that can be turned over to the fire police.

Kutzler supported the recommendation for the fire police to receive an additional truck.

“We all work together,” Kutzler said.

The opening of the borough recreation center, which had been set for July 1, is on hold until further notice, according to Brobst. He mentioned when the facility opens, members will be asked to follow social-distancing markings, use provided hand sanitizer and adhere to other safety measures put in place.