Whitehall-Coplay Press

Friday, May 24, 2019

Emergency services building location is chosen

Wednesday, June 6, 2018 by KATHY LAUER-WILLIAMS Special to The Press in Local News

New building for police, ambulance corps set for MacArthur Road land

Plans for a new emergency services building in Whitehall Township are moving forward.

Whitehall Township Board of Commissioners heard a resolution to authorize the pre-design phase of the proposed building at its workshop meeting June 4. Commissioners will vote on the resolution at their June 11 meeting.

After looking at numerous sites throughout the township, officials decided the new building will be built on the township municipal complex, behind the existing municipal building. An old garage and several outbuildings will be removed. D’Huy Engineering, of Bethlehem, will be preparing the pre-design.

First proposed in 2014, the plan for a new facility will include the police department, a police training facility, a satellite base for Cetronia Ambulance Corps, a storage center for fire department equipment, a gym for police and public meeting rooms.

Both the board and Mayor Michael Harakal Jr. had made plans for a new emergency services building a priority.

“Things have moved rather quickly,” Harakal said.

The mayor said township Police Chief Michael Marks played a major role in the decision.

“The municipal complex made the most sense,” Marks said. “That way, we’d bring all the services to one location. It would be one-stop shopping for the residents.”

Since it is only in the pre-design phase, there are no estimates of square footage or cost.

Marks said the building would probably have to be two stories. He said the first floor would likely house a community meeting room and offices for police officers. He said the second floor would house offices for detectives and administration. Township Fire Chief David Nelson said the fire department would move fire administration offices to the building.

Board members also discussed connecting the new building with the existing building through a “buffer” that could contain a gym.

The township police department has been operating from a building that originally was the home of the now-defunct HMS (Hokendauqua, Mickleys, Stiles) Ambulance Corps. The building, which has several levels, is not efficient and does not meet current safety standards.

“This is long overdue,” board President Dennis Hower said. “We need to do it right from the start.”

In other business, Commissioner Jeffrey Dutt said the township is looking for ways to increase attendance at its community pools and would institute new twilight pool rate for the summer.

He said admission would be $2 for residents and $5 for nonresidents Wednesday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday evenings at the three township pools. The pools — Cementon, Jefferson (Fullerton) and Parkview (Hokendauqua) — open for the season June 16. The township also has launched a new Facebook page for Whitehall Township pools, which will have information on the twilight and regular rates.

Harakal also proposed a new anti-littering initiative prompted by concerns of students from Whitehall High School. He said at a recent Student Government Day event, students were concerned about excessive littering in the township. (See related story on page A7.)

Harakal showed the board a sign that read “Member Whitehall Litter Control Team” and said he would like to post signs in the township to encourage retailers to work with the township on reducing litter.

“We need to find a way to address these kids’ concerns,” he said. “I will talk to the (Whitehall Area) Chamber of Commerce and try to get people to buy in with this idea.”

The next board of commissioners meeting is 7 p.m. June 11.