Pennsburg Borough Council said Tuesday night they may use an unexpected $40,000 contribution to pay for generators to power the borough building, which went without power for several days during October’s Hurricane Sandy, leaving the Upper Perk Police District without vital resources.
Borough residents John Kevin and Diane Stevens implored council to find a fix for the lack of backup power. Both former borough council members said Pennsburg had a generator big enough to power the whole building.
Kevin and Stevens cited documentation from the borough stating one generator, large enough to power both the police department and borough offices, was used but had been returned to the state Department of Forestry, whom it was borrowed from through Pennsburg Fire Company.
A separate backup generator, permanently wired into the borough building, is old and only operates minimal backup lighting. It is incapable of powering the entire structure. Two smaller Titan generators, which are currently functional, weren’t maintained, initially rendering them inoperable, officials said.
Stevens, saying she spoke with several former borough staff, rebutted that documentation, though, saying as of 2007, maintenance logs noted that equipment was in working order.
“Those generators were working then. I believe those records should be looked at immediately,” she said.
The Titan generators, used to power borough traffic signals during the hurricane, aren’t large enough to power the building, however. Krupp said the borough bought three more small generators after the storm.
There is no hookup, however, to add additional generators to the borough facility at this time.
“Where were the police supposed to detain prisoners? The police department’s rent should be refunded for when they didn’t have access to their facility. I believe you owe it to the citizens of this borough to put the time and effort into [resolving this issue],” Stevens said, calling for council members’ resignations if they weren’t willing to do so.
“What are we going to wait for, another catastrophe in the borough?” she later asked.
“Something’s not right here and it’s costing us money,” Kevin said. “And it’s got to stop.”
Council President Kris Kirkwood, voted to the position Tuesday, said officials would continue to look into the matter. Krupp added Wednesday that borough staff had been “actively working” on the problem.
Officials learned, though, they could have a surprise windfall by March that could fund the purchase of new generators. According to borough solicitor Chuck Garner, CVS is willing to make an unrestricted contribution of $40,000 in lieu of putting in a traffic light at their Pottstown Avenue location.
The company, which wanted to fund a fully-functioning traffic signal at the locale, would give the money to the borough to be used at their discretion. Garner said traffic studies, dating back to 2005, don’t warrant a full light there, despite the developer’s agreement that said CVS would pay for one.
Currently the intersection is governed by blinking yellow and red lights.
Even in lieu of the new adjacent construction of the Eyecare of the Valley and medical offices, Garner said traffic wouldn’t come close to meeting PennDOT’s requirements, as a state-owned highway, for installing the new signal. Traffic simply isn’t heavy enough.
Garner said he would have a document ready for council’s March meeting to amend the developer’s agreement for that lump sum contribution.
“I would like to see us move forward on looking at a new generator and generator hookup, first for the police department,” Councilman Doug Landis said later on the generator issue. “I want to make sure we’re not sitting on this; that we’re being proactive.”
Council agreed to come up with concrete options to resolve the power issue next month.
In other borough news, Vicki Lightcap was sworn into office by Mayor Ethel Ritchey, filling a council seat vacated by John Lear. Lightcap, a 30-year-plus resident, formerly served as a councilwoman and mayor for the borough. She pledged to use her experience in local, county and state government to serve Pennsburg.
Council voted to move forward with establishing a policy for use of social media and a Facebook page for the borough’s emergency management department.
Officials also spoke briefly on recent snowfall, noting residents should not shovel snow into the roadway, nor block the right-of-way with basketball hoops or any other objects.
Pennsburg will host a free workshop for residents at the March 5 council meeting at 7 p.m. on rain gardens and rain barrels, compliments of the Perkiomen Watershed Conservancy. Residents are encouraged to attend.