QUESTION: Please describe the recent improvements made in and around Borough Hall. How were they funded and why were they necessary? (If there are other projects you'd also like to mention, please feel free to highlight those as well.)
ANSWER: With support from the Lehigh Valley Transportation Study Coordinating Committee, Hellertown Borough was awarded $513,132 in Transportation Enhancement funding for improvements to the outdoor space around Borough Hall.
The construction and features of this streetscape project provide a variety of sustainable storm water management techniques to reduce localized flooding and that demonstrate “green” concepts in urban environments. These improvements include a rain garden, porous concrete paving, larger storm pipes and under drains.
Other features include LED ornamental lighting, bike racks, a pergola structure and shade trees. Another grant, provided by the Borough’s Business Revitalization Program, acquired site furnishings. This project demonstrates to our residents and visitors that pedestrians matter while responding to the increased bike and pedestrian traffic seen from the nearby Saucon Rail Trail and the success of the downtown’s revitalization while helping our business community.
Dimmick Park Improvements: Addressing the priorities outlined in the 2008 Dimmick Park Master Site Plan, the Multi-Municipal Comprehensive Plan of the Saucon Valley, and the borough’s Capital Project Plan, Hellertown Borough Council took advantage of favorable financing opportunities and acquired a $2 million loan to update many of the structures at Dimmick Park, refinance a 2003 note, and make repairs to or reconstruct numerous borough-owned bridges.
After seeking proposals from banking institutions, KNBT Bank’s proposal was accepted; offering the borough a rate of 2.72 percent for 10 years, floating thereafter at 65 percent of the Wall Street Prime Rate.
Historic Grandstand: Originally the centerpiece of Dimmick Park, the grandstand required rehabilitation to mitigate serious safety hazards. Lacking the funds necessary to restore the historic grandstand, but not willing to demolish it, the Borough restricted the use for public access over 10 years ago. The flaking lead paint on the metal frame and rotted wooden floorboards and bleachers posed safety hazards to the children of the community. Additionally, the poor condition of the grandstand diminished the aesthetics of this otherwise well-maintained and heavily-used ball field.
As a result of the master planning process, rehabilitation of the grandstand ranked highest among the overall prioritization and phasing of park improvements. The Master Plan recommended retaining the character-defining features of the structure as much as possible.
Using funds drawn from the 2012 General Obligation Note and a $100,000 grant award from the Northampton County Open Space Initiative fund, the historic grandstand began its rehabilitation.
Rehabilitation efforts have included sandblasting the metal frame to abate lead-based paint, priming and painting of the metal frame, pier connection replacement, replacement of metal hardware, removal of wood bleachers, restoration of wood bleachers and decking, new fencing, netting and electric.
Substantially completed in August 2013, the historic grandstand will again serve as an attractive landmark within Hellertown’s Dimmick Park complex. Preserving this resource will promote and celebrate the park’s value and the important role it played in defining Hellertown’s community heritage.
Performance Stage: A 1937 watercolor painting, depicting the plan for what would become our current-day Dimmick Park, proposed a concert stage where a WWII-era subterranean bomb shelter was later built.
After many years of non-use, in 2002 a local nonprofit, the Hellertown Enhancement Project, began a concert series called Second Sunday in Dimmick Park, with the mission of providing free, high-quality artistic entertainment. Multiple civic organizations have joined as partners and local businesses subsidize the program.
As a result of the master planning process, and the Multi-Municipal Comprehensive Plan, the community identified the importance of an open-air outdoor performance structure to expand cultural events in the park.
After considering multiple options, a prefabricated Waved Beam Concert Shelter with custom modifications was chosen to best serve the purpose. After examining the existing bomb shelter, it was determined the walls constructed of steel-reinforced concrete were sufficiently sound to serve as the structural base.
Using funds drawn from the 2012 General Obligation Note and a $30,000 contribution from the Hellertown Enhancement Project, construction began on the outdoor performance stage in the spring of 2013. The resultant performance stage is a 54’ x 30’ laminated waved beam performance shelter with exposed cedar tongue and groove decking with 8” x 6” steel columns and 29-gauge metal roof. Renovation work included repair and seal coating of the existing concrete stage and the addition of perimeter safety railings. Other improvements include ADA access, appropriate electrical system upgrades and ornamental façade treatment.
Completed in June 2013 in time for the first Second Sunday Music in the Park concert of the year, this performance stage will continue to house outdoor artistic and musical performances which expand the cultural events at Dimmick Park.
Hellertown Pool: Burgess Morris Dimmick acquired 15 acres of land for the park and pool for $1 from the Bethlehem Steel Company. Making use of President F.D. Roosevelt’s Works Progress Administration, this 750,000-gallon pool was built between 1938 and 1939. However, given its age and popularity, many of the pool’s features suffered from overuse and required rehabilitation.
As outlined in the borough’s Capital Improvement Plan, both the pool bathhouse and the pool itself were in need of renovation. Two significant projects were approved in late winter 2012 -- the first being the installation of a new pool liner and anchorage system in the pool, and the second being phase I renovations to the pool bathhouse/pavilion.
Using funds provided in the borough’s Capital Improvement Fund, a bid was awarded for $136,300 to Aquatic Renovation Systems for the replacement of the existing liner and anchorage system and $7,500 for necessary repairs to approximately 2,700 square feet of the marsite subsurface.
The Phase I rehabilitation of the 175’ x 35’ wood-and-steel-frame bathhouse/pavilion included removal and replacement of the existing roof with a steel roof, removal and replacement of all fencing, and repairs to the concrete deck. In an attempt to maintain the structure's architectural integrity, future repairs will include window replacement or renovation and upgrades to the restrooms and locker rooms.
Saucon Rail Trail, Tumminello Park and Water Street Park: Since the 2011 opening of the Saucon Rail Trail, a previously funded Lehigh Valley Greenways project, it has been a huge success for both Hellertown and Lower Saucon. The trail provides a unique and comfortable trail for residents to walk/jog/bike for better health and improved quality of life. Recently, the borough recognized the success of the trail by implementing a special “trail overlay” zoning district which permits more trail-oriented businesses and combined residential and commercial uses to fill the lands adjacent to the trail and along key connectors to Main Street.
With the award of grant funding in the amount of $40,000 from the Lehigh Valley Greenways Conservation Landscape Initiative, Hellertown Borough was able to implement the Tumminello Park Conservation Plan. This project has completed many goals -- land conservation and restoration, outdoor recreation and trail connections, community revitalization and local education and outreach. It has accomplished trail improvements and enhancement by planting native trees, shrubs, perennials and grasses and the installation of a riparian buffer, rain garden and meadow plantings utilizing borough staff, labor and volunteers. In the future, grant funding will be sought for the installation of a pedestrian bridge over the millrace. This connection will then provide direct access to trails currently under construction and a future connection to the Saucon Valley School District campus.
In response to community need, due to the success of the Saucon Rail Trail, and with the support of a multitude of organizations and public officials, Hellertown will undertake a phased development of Water Street Park. The first phase will include utility connections and interior fit-out for two new ADA-accessible unisex restrooms, the construction of a new basketball court/ice skating rink, expanded parking, and site landscaping including native plantings and rain gardens to integrate the site with the adjacent Saucon Creek riparian buffer. The second phase will include safety enhancements, a new stone wall and columns at the park’s entrance, a new entrance sign, and asphalt-paved parking and concrete curbing which is being reconfigured to provide ADA accessibility to the park amenities and Saucon Valley Farmers' Market vendor areas. New LED site lighting will also be added for safety.
Funding for this project has been requested from a multitude of grant sources, including the Department of Community & Economic Development, Monroe County Local Share Gaming Grant, Department of Conservation and Natural Resources, as well as Northampton County Open Space Initiative and Hotel Tax.
The Borough of Hellertown’s recently completed Walkability Study & Smart Transportation Plan (2011) recognized the importance of developing Water Street Park as a major trailhead for the Saucon Rail Trail, specifically for the purpose of enhancing economic development within the downtown district, maintaining the success of the Saucon Valley Farmers' Market and providing needed recreational amenities.
Borough of Hellertown Logo: In the winter of 2012, the Hellertown Borough Business Revitalization Committee addressed the need to enhance the borough’s image as well as the redesign of the borough’s logo and seal. The idea was to request design submission that would represent the community’s perception of the borough’s culture, history and assets.
Designed by Maria Diaz-Jovas, a resident and local business owner, the new design was revealed to Borough Council in the spring of 2013. With the affirmation “Cherishing Our Past - Embracing Our Future,” this new logo reflects upon the rich history of the community while welcoming what the future may bring!
Photo: Streetscape and pedestrian improvements were made around Hellertown Borough Hall in 2013 (file photo).