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N. Catty accepts fire chief’s resignation

North Catasauqua Borough Council met June 7 in person for what is planned to be council’s only meeting for the month. All council members and borough officials were in attendance.

In his report to council, fire Chief Shawn McGinley said he has been in discussion with Northampton Fire Department, as the two entities talked about the possibility of joining forces in an “operational merger.” McGinley described a collaboration during which both fire companies would respond to any and all calls one of them receives on a 24/7 basis.

Currently, North Catasauqua has a mutual aid agreement with Northampton and Catasauqua, which means those outside fire departments will respond to specific types of calls in North Catasauqua during certain hours of the day. With McGinley’s suggested collaboration, however, North Catasauqua and Northampton firefighters would work together on all fire emergency calls in both boroughs.

Borough council President Peter Paone asked McGinley why these ideas had not first been brought to council before he began discussions with Northampton. He also questioned why the department would not be better served by a merger with Catasauqua Fire Department, given its proximity.

McGinley asserted he has been told by at least six volunteer firefighters in his department that they will leave North Catasauqua if the department merges with the Catasauqua department, due to alleged differences in “culture” between the two entities.

Borough council held an executive session before the meeting concluded to discuss personnel matters. After this two-hour session, borough council resumed the meeting and voted to accept McGinley’s resignation as fire chief. No replacement or interim fire chief was put in place before the meeting was adjourned.

In other news, borough residents Cathy and Natalie Rutman came before council to ask permission to use the North Catasauqua section of the D&L Trail for a memorial service to honor their late husband and father, Thomas Rutman, who died in November 2020. Thomas Rutman, who lived much of his life in North Catasauqua, was a trail ambassador for the D&L.

The Rutmans also expressed interest in donating a memorial bench in his honor. All of council was in favor of granting them permission to do both, but there were some notable caveats.

Firstly, construction on the North Catasauqua stretch of the D&L Trail has barely just begun, so it’s unclear if the work will be completed in time for the memorial, which is planned for Sept. 4. Secondly, the borough has an ordinance in place prohibiting the installation of memorials on borough property, specifically including the D&L Trail.

Council members moved to grant the Rutmans permission to host the memorial, conditional on the state of the trail construction at that time. They also plan to make an amendment to the ordinance that would allow installation of monuments with council approval.

After hearing from the Rutmans, council briefly discussed the possibility of charging a fee for trail space rentals in the future, depending on the demand. If implemented, this would be similar to how the borough currently rents out the pavilion at North Catasauqua William J. Albert Memorial Park, 701 Grove St.

Borough Secretary Tasha Jandrisovitz reported to council that six additional lots have been sold in the North Catasauqua section of the Estates at Willowbrook. The developer, Ryan Homes, said phase two, which includes lots that are farther back from Howertown Road, will soon be underway.

Paone gave an update on the Main Street storm sewer renovation project and announced construction is planned to begin soon. Work was expected to start June 11, with the Green Street section of the project to go first. Paone said residents should expect detours on affected sections of Main and Green streets throughout the construction.

Also at the meeting, Councilman Joseph T. Keglovits reported the We Sing! yard sale will be held Sept. 11 at the North Catasauqua park, with a rain date of Sept. 18.