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Upper Hanover firm on Sidewalks for Proposed Middle School
Written by Candace Perry, Correspondent

Student safety part of negotiations with school officials


            Punctuated by knocks on the desk, Supervisor Ben Fiorito firmly stated his thoughts on the current middle school deliberations at the Upper Hanover Board of Supervisors' workshop meeting on Tuesday, April 11.

            "The whole issue continues to be the walkability to school," Fiorito said to the large crowd. Noting that the township's process was the same as with any other developer, he said that the township goes by its ordinance, and that includes negotiations.

            He said that the school's position was "that they did not have to put in sidewalks because it was offsite." In negotiating, however, Fiorito said that the township could get the developer to agree to conditions they don't legally have to do, and cited the Northgate development as an example.

            "The only guiding issue is the walks and sidewalks for these students," he concluded.  

            Earlier in the meeting, representatives of a group of concerned citizens urged the supervisors to make a decision regarding the installation of sidewalks as soon as possible. Joe Borgese of Upper Hanover urged the supervisors to move forward and not to table the discussion again, to allow the middle school project to proceed.

            Alternately, William Chrisman and Len Matthews, both of Montgomery Avenue, asked that the supervisors hold off until after April 24 when a decision on the intervention will be made. If the supervisors decide to table the decision, the school district's appeal on conditional use could expire or be withdrawn, leaving the township with no options and the determination to install sidewalks completely up to the school district.

            Supervisors' chairman Gene Fried stated that Montgomery Avenue had been declared unsafe PennDOT in 1998, and that Upper Hanover had brought safety issues to light with the school district.

            "One child's life is worth more to me than a fifty-six million dollar school," he said, but added "until we can come to a satisfactory conclusion we are going to hold off."

            He also stated in no uncertain terms that the township should not pay for the sidewalks, which also include a bike path, curbing, and storm water drains, but that the approximately $250,000 costs should be footed by the school district.

            The supervisors have scheduled an executive session prior to their regular meeting on Wednesday, April 12, to further discuss their position, and will either make a decision or decide to table it again.

            In Historical Committee news, the supervisors presented a ten–year service award to George Albanese, Dave Conrad, Larry Roeder, Bob Borneman, and Henry Whittaker.  

            In roads news, work on the Peevy Road bridge is scheduled to begin sometime in the summer and is expected to last for eight to nine months, which will require a detour from Water Street to Church Road and then to Kutztown Road. The update will allow the bridge to accommodate the largest ambulance.

            Also, work on the bridge spanning the West Branch of the Perkiomen Creek is scheduled to begin on May 8.  The bridge is expected to be closed until sometime in August.






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