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Pennsburg Officials Stand Fast on Mediation Condition
Written by Bradley Schlegel Staff Writer

                An Upper Hanover resident made an impassioned plea Tuesday night to Pennsburg Borough Council, asking that it proceed with mediation with East Greenville that could preserve the Upper Perk Police District.

                "There's nothing more I can do," said Chris Baccari, a former police officer in Quakertown Borough. "All I can do is beg, so I am begging you to reconsider. I am hoping you are at least going to give me a mediation meeting."

                However, Pennsburg officials declined to rescind their condition that East Greenville council push back its dissolution date from the Upper Perk Police Commission to Dec. 31 before mediation between the boroughs can commence.

                After the public meeting, Council President Kris Kirkwood said that Pennsburg officials were moving forward with a plan to organize a police department in the borough "under the assumption that East Greenville has terminated the mediation process."

                Last month, East Greenville officials interpreted Pennsburg's condition as a willingness to suspend the discussions. According to Kirkwood, a written statement released by East Greenville council at its next public meeting in opposition carried similar significance.

                Kirkwood said Pennsburg officials are not opposed to mediation. He said the municipal officials made the condition in order to assure that the process has enough time to succeed.

                Following the two-and-a-half-hour meeting, Kirkwood said that a June 1 withdrawal date would not provide Pennsburg officials with adequate time to set up a municipal police department. He explained that the police commission would need more time to settle contractual issues with the district's police officers.

                The issue was not included on the meeting agenda. However, audience members had access to a statement previously issued by Kirkwood to the Town & Country newspaper.

                After waiting more than two hours to speak during the public comment period, Baccari rose to ask the council members if they agreed with the statement. No one spoke, and some members nodded in approval.

                "I'm completely disappointed with the fact that you are so steadfastly focused on the December date," he said. "You drew a line in the sand."

                According to Baccari, residents have put in "thousands of hours of work" cajoling both boroughs to the verge of mediation after East Greenville voted in September to dissolve the commission on March 6.

                In December, council pushed that date back to the first day of June.

                Baccari assigned 80 percent of the blame on East Greenville officials. He said Pennsburg council is responsible for the remaining 20 percent. "East Greenville has gone above their word to get this done," Baccari said. "You guys need to own some of this."

                Multiple council members then spoke in favor of the condition. Diane Stevens told the audience she has heard from several residents who completely agree with the decision.

                "Based on everything going on, June 1 is not going to cut it," Stevens said.






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