Whitehall-Coplay Press

Friday, August 23, 2019
PRESS PHOTO BY KATHY LAUER-WILLIAMSDuring the June 10 meeting, the Whitehall Township Board of Commissioners looks at a rendering of the emergency services building, which shows the two-story police building on the left attached by a common entrance to the existing municipal building on the right. PRESS PHOTO BY KATHY LAUER-WILLIAMSDuring the June 10 meeting, the Whitehall Township Board of Commissioners looks at a rendering of the emergency services building, which shows the two-story police building on the left attached by a common entrance to the existing municipal building on the right.

Board gets update on complex

Wednesday, June 12, 2019 by KATHY LAUER-WILLIAMS Special to The Press in Local News

Emergency services building project could go out for bid by end of year

Whitehall Township’s proposed emergency services complex could go out for bid by the end of the year, the board of commissioners learned at its June 10 meeting.

The construction timeline was one of the updates commissioners heard from Kelly, Clough, Bucher and Associates Inc., Hatfield, which is providing architect services, and D’Huy Engineering, Bethlehem, which is providing construction management services on the new 29,000-square-foot police station and renovation of the township building on the current township municipal site, 3219 MacArthur Road.

“We went after this very quickly,” Mayor Michael Harakal Jr. said.

Arif Fazil, of D’Huy Engineering, said the project cost estimate is $17,835,365, up slightly from the original estimate of $17,735,000.

“The team has been very utilitarian,” Fazil said. “We are using every single space.”

He said the project should be ready to go out for bid for environmental work by August, and the deadline to have the complete construction plan ready for bid is Nov. 27. He said the board could then vote to advertise for bids at its Dec. 9 meeting.

Fazil said the board would vote on the bids received by February 2020, and construction could start on the police building by March 2020.

The plan is to start renovations on the existing municipal building by March 2021, he added, with project completion projected by December 2021.

Jay Clough, of KCBA Architects, presented artist renderings of the proposed building, which showed a single all-glass entryway connecting the existing building and new police building. He said the glass would allow natural light for a welcoming entryway.

“Right now, we have three access points into the building, which creates confusion,” Harakal said. “A common access point will make it much more user friendly, and people will be served much more efficiently.”

The entryway will provide one access for the public to all township services.

“It will be a central transaction area where you would go whether you need police or a building permit,” Clough said.

The two-story police building 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.

Everything on the second floor will be secured, and the rear of the first floor also will have a Sally Port, a secure entryway that consists of a series of doors for safe prisoner movements leading to the cell area. The police parking area in the rear would be secured with an 8-foot electronic fence.

The renovation will reorganize the tax office, code enforcement office, recreation department, township administration offices and restrooms.

In other business, two township veterans spoke during public comment in response to a statement made by a commissioner during the municipal primary May 21.

Commissioner Jeffrey Warren made the alleged comment, heard by another commissioner, at a township polling place. Commissioner Joseph Marx Jr., who was running for mayor in the primary, was telling a voter that he was a Marine Corps veteran, when Warren allegedly said, “Timothy McVeigh was also a veteran.”

Marx said at last week’s workshop meeting he was not close enough to hear Warren’s comment, but township board Vice President Philip Ginder, who also is a veteran, was close enough to hear it.

Timothy McVeigh was a terrorist who, in 1995, set off a bomb at the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City that killed 168 people and injured more than 680. McVeigh had served in the military as an Army infantryman during the Gulf War.

Township resident Brent Fenstermacher addressed the board, saying he was a 28-year veteran and incoming commander for the Veterans of Foreign Wars post.

“There are over 700 active members and another 400 to 500 social members wondering why veterans don’t have the support of the township administration,” he said. “That comment is unacceptable in my eye, and I have to answer to my servicemen and women. He needs to make amends.”

Board President Dennis Hower said the comment does not reflect the feeling of “anyone on this board, especially me.”

“I did not serve, but my father did,” Hower said. “This is very emotional for me. I have the utmost respect for everyone who has served in the military. Sometimes, we say dumb things. I know it’s not in his heart.”

Warren said he hoped “over time, you will forgive me.”

He said his father also was a veteran and active in the VFW, and he recalled placing flags in the cemetery as a child.

“I immediately knew it was wrong and apologized at the first opportunity,” Warren said, adding he supports veterans and veterans organizations.

Harakal said he had received several comments from veterans, many of whom were “willing to presume it was a mistake.”

“I hope we can see it in our hearts to look intently before we throw someone away,” he said.

Marx, who had asked for Warren’s resignation at the workshop meeting June 3, did not comment on the issue.