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Catty discusses pool options, Iron Works progress

Catasauqua Borough Council welcomed the new borough manager to his first official monthly council meeting Nov. 28. Glenn Eckhart was excited to get to work in the borough and was in high spirits at the meeting.

There was discussion about the municipal pool. The borough received $30,900 for a feasibility study grant to explore options, and Engineer Vanessa Nedrick shared a draft of the study with the council. She noted there were pricing details for a number of options regarding the pool.

According to Nedrick, the favorable option was to proceed with previously identified improvements, such as repairing cracks and leaks. This would cost the borough approximately $182,000, with an expected payoff in about four years, depending on revenue. These repairs would be to the pool structure. It was noted there were additional equipment needs not included in the proposed cost.

Other options such as filling in the pool, a full demolition, moving the pool or making a water park-style area were reportedly not as cost effective, comparing costs and the amount of time it would take to pay off the expense.

Councilman Eugene Schlegel questioned if the engineering team that did the study specialized in pools. When Nedrick noted that was not the team’s specialty, Schlegel asked if there was still money left from the grant to reach out to someone who had more pool-specific training.

According to Nedrick, $21,362 from the $30,900 grant was used, leaving $9,538.

During the recognition of guests portion of the meeting, resident Robert Zakos addressed council about the importance of the pool. He noted he has a newborn son and is in the time of his life to really appreciate the impact the municipal pool has on the community.

“I want to take my son down to the Catty pool and teach him to swim, like I did,” Zakos said.

He also reported he is part of the Friends of Catasauqua Parks group, which was originally formed to help save the pool or come up with solutions. He asked council for the opportunity to use the group to help raise money to offset some of the costs associated with the pool repair.

Catasauqua resident Virginia Schlegel also spoke about the importance of keeping the pool. She asked if it was possible for the borough to partner with outside organizations to help fund repairs.

In other business, Solicitor Thomas Dinkelacker shared an update on the Iron Works project. He said they met with the county redevelopment authority before Thanksgiving. He noted the presentation went well and expects a favorable outcome with a potential future partnership to help cultivate the Iron Works site. He also noted a number of developers are expressing interest in the project.

“All in all, it’s a favorable position,” Dinkelacker said.

It was also reported the asbestos abatement and lead paint removal were completed in both the depot building and the R&D complex on the Iron Works site.

A representative from the development on 14th Street approached council to offer a donation of approximately 7 acres to the borough. Eugene Schlegel commented the council members previously discussed not taking the donation for maintenance and tax reasons.

There was additional discussion about the formation of a walking path in the area. There will be further research into the matter.

Council members approved two ordinances. Ordinance 1421 amended the rental property code, adding a definition for extended stay hotel, amending the definition of regulated rental unit, deleting the definition of unregulated rental unit and amending the duties of owner and licenses and inspections sections.

Additionally, ordinance 1422 amended the police pension plan to include an Act 44 retirement program for officers. Dinkelacker noted this plan was discussed as part of the collective bargaining agreement.

Ordinance 1423 was approved to be advertised. This ordinance relates to changes made to the zoning ordinance regarding 5G. It provides “new regulations for wireless communications facilities in the borough, subject to such technical revisions as deemed appropriate by the solicitor,” according to the agenda.

Council voted to approve a resolution allowing for 2023 refuse bill discounts for senior citizens and early payers. Eckhart noted the administration wants to get this approval done, so the borough can start sending out those bills and get the revenue coming in soon.

Nedrick presented on a number of projects in the borough. She reported the 2022 road program is completed, but a change order resulted in additional liquid fuels funds. The board will look into the details and make a decision on the funds at a future meeting.

Regarding the George Taylor House roof replacement, the contractor began fascia work Nov. 15. A roof fascia is the board that sits under the roof’s overhang, usually attached to the gutter.

Nedrick requested council approve the submission of two PA Small Water and Sewer grant proposals for the inflow infiltration abatement project and the water interconnection project. Council unanimously voted to allow Nedrick to submit the applications, which are due by Dec. 21.

A number of approvals were voted on by council as recommended by the finance committee - the engineer fees for 2023; an Iron Works appraisal proposal; the Norris McLaughlin fee agreement for 2023; the agreement with Taggart Associates for 2023; a 4% salary increase for 2023 for five nonbargaining unit employees, including Douglas Kish, Michelle Lederer, Catherine VanDyne, Denise Stewart and Mary Beth Finnerty; a purchasing policy; and a cyber insurance policy.

Council approved the removal of Jason Sedgewick and Scott Dergham from the part-time police officer list.

Eugene Schlegel reported Robert Bastian submitted his resignation from the shade tree commission after 23 years. He also noted there are now two vacancies on the commission.

Kim Brubaker, of Catasauqua Main Streets, spoke about how the organization has been cut from the borough budget for 2023.

“Even though our funds have been cut, we’re going to continue to do our work in the community,” Brubaker reported.

She noted there are a number of projects still in the works, such as the Hometown Heroes banners, which are expected to be delivered shortly.

There is a budget workshop meeting set for 7 p.m. Dec. 5. Eckhart encouraged people to come to this meeting to gain greater understanding of how tight the borough budget is at the current time.

The next council meeting is scheduled for 7 p.m. Dec. 19. The budget is expected to be adopted at this meeting.