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HELLERTOWN Pedestrians take priority

With the upcoming week’s weather forecast set for more snow, Hellertown Borough Council had warmer weather and outdoor events on the docket at their Feb. 16 meeting, with plans for Main Street. pedestrian safety improvements and a returning community event among the top items discussed.

The meeting looked a bit different than usual from the start, as although it was once again held virtually via the Zoom application, council president Thomas Rieger, Jr. and borough manager Cathy Hartranft broadcasted from Borough Hall for the first time since March 2020.

The rest of the attendees joined virtually, as has been the norm since the COVID-19 pandemic began sweeping across the nation early last year. Rieger indicated that he and Hartranft were simply testing equipment and gave no indication that a return to fully in-person meetings was imminent.

Bryan Smith of Barry Isett and Associates presented his Pedestrian Safety Initiative, which he explained is being funded with over a million dollars in grants, applied for by and awarded to the borough several years ago. Some of the components of the project have already been completed, he added, while others are set to either begin or resume as better weather returns. The initiative is expected to be complete in August.

The upgrades, centered around the Main Street corridor, include new textured crosswalks and signal improvements, with rapid flashes being utilized, from Wagner Street to Walnut Street. He also touted the addition of street trees, handicapped ramps and stamped crosswalks at a few specific intersections.

Smith also indicated that a bus shelter is also scheduled to be added at Thomas Street, with council being asked to choose between blueprints – one a LANTA-owned shelter and the other to be installed by the borough. He explained that if the council chose to approve the LANTA option, although the borough would not be responsible for maintenance in and around the shelter, the borough would also have no input on physical characteristics, unlike the borough-owned option.

Other differences between the plans were mostly aesthetic, but wound up being crucial to the council’s decision. The LANTA-owned shelter, it was explained, would likely feature a large advertisement on the back of the shelter and could potentially block lines of sight or otherwise be a distraction for drivers, councilman Gil Stauffer said. Alternatively, the design of the borough shelter was completely opaque.

“I see some of the shelters in the (Lehigh) Valley and they’re not exactly pretty to look at,” Rieger added. “I think sometimes they aren’t maintained…” Regarding the ad debate, he elaborated; “I think we’ve done a good job controlling signs and advertising [in Hellertown]. I kind of like the way it is,” he continued.

On the other hand, he acknowledged that while opting not to involve LANTA would allow the borough more control over the maintenance of the shelter, it would also potentially add to the public works department’s burden. After some debate, council agreed to move forward with the latter option.

In other news, Rieger – acting as liaison for the Hellertown-Lower Saucon Chamber of Commerce, he explained – proposed the return of the semi-annual ‘Honors and Hors D’oeuvres’ event. The celebratory banquet is to be held outdoors at Dimmick Park and tentatively scheduled for the third week in May.

Last held in 2019, it has traditionally been held as an awards-style affair honoring community groups and organizations who have gone “above and beyond to service the community,” he said. Council unanimously approved the request for use of the pavilion at the park.

Press photo by Chris Haring Bryan Smith explains the bus shelter options within his Pedestrian Safety Initiative.