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East Allen voters pass referendum for open space preservation

The first item of business at the East Allen Township Board of Supervisors meeting May 26 was a discussion on the open space referendum.

Board Chair Roger Unangst and other supervisors expressed excitement the referendum passed by a wide unofficial tally.

About 80% of East Allen Township voters reportedly supported having part of a township earned income tax payment earmarked for saving open space and farmland preservation in the township.

Many rural municipalities are moving toward starting or enhancing farm and open space preservation in efforts to preserve the rural character of their townships.

Township Manager Brent Greene noted dedicated open space committee members staffed the polling stations supporting the referendum. Greene said he believed these efforts assisted with the passage of the referendum.

Greene told the board members a number of residents registered as Independent voted at the polls for the referendum because all voters were able to vote on the referendum. Primary elections in Pennsylvania are reserved for Democrats and Republican voters only. Issues such as referendums and ballot questions allow Independents to vote.

The next step is scheduling a plan to implement an open space, farmland preservation. Township Solicitor Joseph Piperato III was charged by the supervisors to develop an ordinance addressing the open space issue and its funding through the earned income tax.

In other matters, the board approved spending $25,220 to address issues at the Bicentennial Park West basketball court. Supervisors also approved a $25,572 expenditure to refurbish and install a fence at the Bicentennial Park East tennis court.

The board held a discussion about township facility upgrades. It is planning to build a public works storage building, an addition to the municipal building and exterior building upgrades and an addition to the salt storage building.

The public works storage building may cost $500,000 as a capital expenditure. The storage building decision was tabled until plans are more clearly defined.

The addition to the municipal building will be constructed on the back of the building. The goal is to provide easier access to those needing accessible entry to the building, which was recommended by the township’s liability insurance carrier. The addition will also provide storage space.