10-10-19 Pennsylvania PennDOT snow plow.jpg

UPPER SAUCON TWP., Pa. – Upper Saucon Township, like the rest of the Lehigh Valley, had little snow to clear this winter. That helped the township save money from its annual allocation of Pennsylvania's liquid-fuel tax, though township workers missed out on extra pay.

"There probably is some level of disappointment that they didn't get overtime," Township Manager Thomas Beil said after Supervisor Stephen Wagner asked at Monday’s board meeting if the mild weather and lack of extra work affected employee morale.

About 5.3 inches of snow have fallen in the Lehigh Valley so far this winter.

Beil said the township receives about $530,000 annually from the state tax, an allocation based upon population and number of roads. The money isn't free; Pennsylvanians pay the second-highest tax on gasoline per gallon in the U.S., topped only by California.

Upper Saucon can use the weather-related windfall for road projects, but not transfer it to the township's general fund.

The township also has materials from the winter that it can use next year.

"Our stockpiles (of salt) are full," Assistant Township Manager Joseph Geib said. "We haven't really used any."

The supervisors had a short agenda for their meeting, and actual business was dispensed quickly. A private session of more than an hour was held to discuss a crime issue with Police Chief Thomas Nicoletti, a labor contract and the potential purchase of real estate. After the session, Chairman Brian Farrell said no decisions were reached during the closed meeting.

The potential construction of a tree-borne ropes course and zip lines was not on the agenda. Last week, a zoning board session to discuss Tree Course Adventures LLC's plan to put an "adventure ropes course" at the Jewish Community Center of the Lehigh Valley's day camp on Vera Cruz Road was postponed when the crowd overflowed the township's hearing room on Camp Meeting Road.

Tree Course Adventures, based in Stroudsburg, Monroe County, needs a variance to install its course. Some local residents have objected, suggesting that further development could follow.

Brian Ford, president of the JCC, said the planned sale of the camp will help the Jewish center create programs for members and the community for the century-old organization's next 100 years. Ford attended the meeting in case any questions were asked about the proposed land sale; none arose. He declined to reveal the potential price of the 55 acres.

"There already is a ropes course and zip line at the camp," Ford said, though they are not as large as Tree Course's proposal. "The buyers would keep it a natural area," he said, adding that the JCC respects the concerns of the neighbors.

Ford said the JCC day camp will be held this summer. Despite the religious affiliation, "We welcome everybody," he said. In addition to traditional camp activities, there are programs for cooking, science and photography, among other specialties.

The zoning meeting on the ropes course will be held Monday, March 23 at 7 p.m. at Southern Lehigh Middle School to accommodate the expected crowd. There will be no meeting of the supervisors that night.

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