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Pennsburg Drafting Code Blue Shelter Ordinance
Written by Bradley Schlegel, Staff Writer
2024-06-12

            A plan to open a Code Blue shelter in Pennsburg is moving forward. On Tuesday, Solicitor Mark Hosterman told council he is drafting an ordinance to allow the facility in the borough.

            According to the solicitor, the ordinance would create an agreement between the three stakeholders and set the rules for the shelter. Hosterman said it will also include language allowing the council to revoke utilization of the shelter if it becomes a burden to the borough.

            "If council is not happy, it could revoke its permission," the solicitor said, adding that he could incorporate language permitting the members to shut the facility down at a time of their choosing.

            Earlier this year, representatives of the Open Link, the Pennsburg UCC Church and the Upper Perk Homeless Coalition appeared before council seeking permission to open the shelter during the winter months for homeless people when overnight temperatures drop to dangerous levels.

            In March, Marianne Lynch, the Open Link's new executive director, appeared before council to ask about starting the center in the former parsonage, located at the intersection of Eighth and Main streets. The following month, she returned with Frank Falk, head of the church's property committee, and multiple members of the Upper Perk Homelessness Coalition to continue the conversation.

            Lynch explained previously that the shelter would have 10 beds and would only be available for men. She said the doors would open at 8 p.m. and close 12 hours later only during nights with excessively cold temperatures as designated by Montgomery County.

            During council's most recent meeting, Hosterman told the members the language of a code blue manual submitted by the regional homeless coalition would be incorporated into the ordinance. The solicitor described the manual as comprehensive.

            "The organization already has really good policies and procedures in place," Hosterman said.

            Member Diane Stevens expressed concerns that the shelter could become a burden to the borough's police department.

Hosterman said he could incorporate that language in the ordinance.  "This is a needed service," he said, "but it could become a burden to the police."

            According to Hosterman, the current ordinance language does not require the police to provide the shelter with any special services. He said the officers should only get involved there in the case of a true emergency.

            Mayor Charles Shagg read a proclamation honoring a former council member who died May 28. Darren Robinson served the borough from 2006 to 2009, according to the mayor.

            In May, the Upper Perk Police Department handled 669 total incidents. That included 251 for public services.

            The officers issued 96 parking tickets or warnings, conducted 75 vehicle investigations and 69 traffic details, according to information presented by Chief Joe Adam. The department issued 44 traffic citations and 37 warnings.

            Officers responded to 11 non-reportable and one reportable accident along with three non-traffic citations and four false alarm calls at borough businesses. They responded to 21 reported crimes, including five incidents of assault/harassment/stalking, three sex offenses, two incidents each of forgery/fraud/identity theft, theft, shoplifting, trespassing and vandalism/criminal mischief as well as one incident each of robbery, violation of a borough ordinance, burglary/attempted burglary, DUI and public drunkenness/disorderly conduct. 


 

 

 

 

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