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Council continues discussion of Laubach Ave. property state

A property on West Laubach Avenue in Northampton has reportedly been in a state of disrepair and has been discussed numerous times at council meetings.

Previous issues included a rodent infestation requiring code enforcement and police involvement to facilitate the rodent removal.

A challenge for the borough has been the reportedly missing nature of the absentee landlord. The borough has been unable to locate the person.

At the May 19 Northampton Borough Council meeting, it was reported the landlord may be residing in Binghamton, N.Y.

At previous meetings, council discussions included having the borough seize the property through eminent domain and perhaps transform it into a welcome center or purchase the property and level the building.

Borough Solicitor Brian Panella distanced himself from the eminent-domain suggestion at a previous meeting, explaining to council the property has to be assessed to learn if it can be saved based on its state of ruin. Panella cautioned council about the pitfalls of a quick decision to take over the property, as it could become a financial nightmare for taxpayers.

Mayor Tony Pristash said he contacted a structural engineer who has worked successfully in the redevelopment of buildings and properties in New York City.

The engineer reviewed the Laubach Avenue building. Pristash said the engineer recommended the borough install a safety fence around the property to keep the public out to avoid any risk management problems.

Pristash noted the engineer said the cost to refurbish the building could be in excess of $400,000. Panella added the solution to the ownership problem needs to be a transfer to the borough, whereby the borough incurs minimal costs.

Another complicating factor is the building is reportedly in a flood plain, which could hamper reconstruction if the building is demolished.

In other news, council passed resolution 2022-6 that provides council’s approval of the Joint Act 537 Sewage Facilities Plan between Northampton Borough and Allen Township. This resolution is a Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Resources requirement for municipalities that share sewage capacity.

Council approved a request from First Baptist Church, Allentown, to use both Municipal Park pavilions for its Rally Day Sept. 11. All fees were waived.

South Whitehall Township was granted the use of the borough’s portable band trailer June 24 and July 22. South Whitehall is required to pay delivery and removal fees and provide a certificate of insurance.

Northampton Liederkranz, 402 E. Ninth St., Northampton, is planning a bike night 6-10 p.m. July 16. The Liederkranz requested and received council permission to have Siegfried Avenue closed between East Ninth Street and Plum Alley 4-10 p.m.

Council also approved two “no parking here to corner” signs at the intersection of West 17th and Poplar streets. It was noted residents are parking too close to the intersection, making it difficult to enter Poplar Street.

The Northampton municipal pool bathhouse was recently painted. The pool is on track to open June 4. There are still some job openings at the pool. Contact the borough office for details.

Councilman Ronald Glassic asked that a change in the council meeting time from 7:30 p.m. to 7 p.m. be considered, and the livestreaming of council meetings be put on the next council meeting’s agenda.

Many boroughs and townships are livestreaming their council/supervisor meetings to make it easier for residents to attend from the privacy of their homes.

Councilwoman Judy Kutzler noted the police department was busy in April with hundreds of recorded incident calls, 77 parking tickets issued and 12 arrests, including five DUI arrests, retail thefts and a simple assault charge.

Junior Councilmember Ryleigh Tillotson reported the parade plans for a celebration of the Northampton Area School District 2022 sports success are ongoing.

The next Northampton Borough Council meeting is 7:30 p.m. June 2 in the borough’s municipal building, 1401 Laubach Ave. It is an in-person meeting only.

PRESS PHOTO BY BILL LEINER JR. An allegedly abandoned property on West Laubach Avenue has been a topic of conversation at Northampton Borough Council meetings.