Mayor Ed Hozza outlines plans for 2014
In his State of the Township Report for 2013, Whitehall Township Mayor Edward D. Hozza Jr. reviewed the accomplishements of last year but also forcasted plans for 2014.
"When we look back at the year 2013, the theme would be another year of road and bridge construction," he said. "[PennDOT's] Route 145/ MacArthur Road Safety Improvement Project and the Route 22 and Route 145/MacArthur Road Interchange Project ... affected just about everyone living, working and shopping in Whitehall Township."
This year will see Lehigh County's anticipated completion of the Hokendauqua-North Catasauqua Bridge and the beginning construction of the Fullerton Avenue Interchange and the Lehigh River Bridge on Route 22.
"Our financial health has now returned to pre-great recession levels," he said. "This will enable us to rebuild our Capital Reserve Fund to levels prior to the downturn. The capital reserve fund is used to purchase public works equipment, fire apparatus and major capital needs."The administration will be acquiring an improved financial software package as well as several new office computers.
Also this year, the township police department is expected to hire one new officer, bringing the total department to 45 officers.
In the township fire department, staffed by 150 volunteer firefighters, "a commission will be formed to prepare a strategic plan for the fire department for the next five years."
The public works department employs 32 people. Expected purchases in 2014 will be a dump truck, a sign truck and pickup truck. On schedule for rebuilding are Columbia Street from South Church Street to Ringer Road, South Ruch Street from Center Street to Chestnut Street, Center Street, South Ruch Street to Sixth Avenue and Wilson Route 329 to Spruce Street.
During the next year, Hozza says his office will work on creating a streetscape plan for Grape Street, MacArthur Parkway South, MacArthur Road and the township's village centers.
Another priority, he says, will be "preserving our existing open space, preserving our historical sites, and improving the beautification of our public spaces, parks and historical sites."
Plans will begin for a dedicated soccer and field hockey park at Central Park, off Columbia Street.
"In addition, we will examine what we can offer other age groups of our population with the great resources we have in five mid-sized Community Center buildings," he said. "They usually sit idle during the day but are alive on nights and weekends with young adults and rentals."
Hozza delivered his full State of the Township address at a Jan. 20 Whitehall Lions Club meeting and a Jan. 27 township crime watch meeting. He will also present it at a Feb. 18 dinner for Fellowship Manor residents.