Whitehall-Coplay Press

Monday, December 10, 2018

Twp. moving quickly on complex

Wednesday, December 5, 2018 by KATHY LAUER-WILLIAMS Special to The Press in Local News

Commissioners to vote on architect, engineer for emergency services site

The Whitehall Township Board of Commissioners is moving ahead quickly on the proposed township emergency services complex.

The board heard two ordinances that would authorize contracts between the township and both an architect and an engineering firm on the nearly $18 million project at its workshop meeting Dec. 3. The board will vote to approve the contracts at its next board meeting Dec. 10.

If both are approved, Kelly, Clough, Bucher and Associates Inc., of Hatfield, will provide architect services and D’Huy Engineering, of Bethlehem, will provide construction management services on a new 29,000-square-foot police station and renovation of the township building, 3219 MacArthur Road.

Township Solicitor Sarah Murray said work can start five days after the ordinances are approved, at which time the architects will start the predesign phase of the eagerly anticipated project.

Mayor Michael Harakal Jr. has said he hopes actual construction will start by spring 2020.

Harakal reported a meeting held in November for public comment on the project was lightly attended, and the township has encountered no opposition to the plan. He said everyone he has spoken to agreed the project was long overdue.

The township had been looking for a site for a new emergency services building for the past three years and explored nine different potential locations before returning to the existing site.

The project’s estimated cost of $17,735,000 includes $10,000,612 for the police building; $2,570,512 for renovation of the township building; $2,304,353 for site work; $1,909,523 for outbuildings; and a $950,000 contingency.

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.

The new building would have a sally port, a secure entryway that consists of a series of doors, for safe prisoner movements. The rear parking area would be secured with an electric fence and gate.

The two-story building also would have a large evidence room and records storage, more office space, a training room, a public meeting room, a gym and locker and shower area.

The renovation would have the tax office, code enforcement office, recreation department, administration offices and restrooms connected to a community transaction area, where the public could easily access them.

The plan provides an option for the township building renovation to be done later, as a second phase.

The board also will vote on the 2019 budget, annual taxes and the capital improvement program for 2019-23 at the next meeting, set for 7 p.m. Dec. 10.