Supervisors chairman lays out Northampton’s 2017 initiatives

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Times file photo – Construction underway work at the Davis-Pontiac site early last year.

In Northampton, the biggest plans for this year revolve around development in Richboro.

The centerpiece is the former Davis Pontiac site, where the multi-million-dollar redevelopment is beginning to take shape in the Addisville Commons at Second Street and Bustleton Pike.

“You’ll start seeing businesses as early as this summer,” said Larry Weinstein, chairman of the township’s board of supervisors.

The plans, taken on by The Dreher Group, include up to 17 spots, with some already designated for certain businesses. One of them will belong to E’s Irish Pub, which already has a location in Warminster. There will also be a Holy Redeemer medical office building, an Italian restaurant and Univest Bank.

Weinstein also said that a Rite Aid is likely, as well as an eat-in Dairy Queen, women’s clothing boutique, barber shop and nail salon.

“There’s a few other places I can’t confirm yet, potentially more retail, definitely more restaurants,” Weinstein said. “I think it’s going to be a really nice development once it’s done.”

The township will continue an aggressive road-paving program, with improvements to portions of Buck Road near Newtown, in conjunction with PennDOT.

In addition to the roads, supervisors are looking at improving pedestrian infrastructure, especially with new sidewalks in downtown Richboro. The supervisors already passed a motion to apply for grant money for engineering studies for sidewalks there, but implementation is not going to happen overnight.

“By the end of the year, there will be some additional sidewalks. I can’t say how many, but the plans will certainly be laid,” Weinstein said, predicting that by 2018 and 2019, downtown Richboro will be much more walkable.

Those improvements will dovetail plans for a crosswalk program. That was on the agenda in late 2016, but ended up being tabled after the bids that came in seemed too costly. The supervisors are looking at more affordable options.

All of these improvements will not make Richboro a “faceless community,” Weinstein noted. The township has been working closely on the architectural design.

“We definitely want a more classic look,” Weinstein said.

There are also plans to expand the public works building, and finalizing plans for a new building for the police department. That is expected to go out to bid in early 2017, with police input. The plans are not etched in stone, but officials are hoping it will be located where the current municipal authority building is.

“We’re going to use the existing building there for front lobby and office space,” Weinstein said.

The current police station was built about 40 years ago, and was meant for half the officers the force has now. Weinstein is hopeful that construction will begin by spring.

Along with the improvements to municipal facilities are plans to improve recreational areas. Supervisors decided long before the Rails to Trails initiative fell flat that there will be a trail connection near Welsh Elementary that leads to the municipal park.

The new baseball field will open at the Civic Center by opening day of little league this year. The field had already been completed, but there wasn’t time to make sure the sod was laying properly. Weinstein also hopes that the supervisors can initiate new bathrooms at the Civic Center this year.

As for other recreational improvements, Weinstein said the Northampton Library is doing independent fundraising to cut costs for the township. Residents and businesses are encouraged to contribute either by donating at northamptontownshiplibrary.org or in person at the library.

Finally, representatives from the EPA and the U.S. Navy will be attending the supervisors meeting, scheduled for Jan. 25. There, they will discuss issues surrounding the PFOS/PFOA water contamination believed to come from the former Naval Air Warfare Center in Warminster and Naval Air Station Joint Reserve Base in Horsham.

All of the public wells in Northampton have been tested quarterly and have stayed below the designated contamination threshold.

“We want to hear more from them, as for what they anticipate, whether there could be an issue in the future,” Weinstein said. “We’ll see what they have to say and if any further steps need to made.” ••

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