Yardley Borough Hall

YARDLEY BOROUGH >> Four candidates, including a former council member, have stepped forward to fill an open seat on the seven member borough council.

The vacancy was created by the sudden departure of Republican Sandi Brady, who resigned Nov. 5 over what she called a “toxic, bullying culture” on borough council and following an Election Day clash with Democrat Patrick McGovern over racist social media postings.

McGovern, who went on to win election to council, subsequently took ownership of what he called a satirical FaceBook profile and announced that he would not be taking his seat on council come January.

Stepping forward to fill Brady’s open seat are former Councilman Ryan Berry, educator Demetrius Houmas, investment banker Matthew Curtin and recent college graduate Akvile Montvilaite.

Council has scheduled a special meeting on Tuesday, Nov. 26 beginning at 7:30 p.m. to publicly interview the candidates with plans to make an appointment at its Dec. 3 meeting.

Berry, a political independent who has served on council for the past four years but lost his re-election bid on Nov. 5, resigned his seat on council in order to submit his application for Brady’s open seat.

His resignation was announced at the meeting by Council President Bryon Marshall.

During his term on council, Berry led efforts to preserve the Reading Avenue Woods and recently took on the task of updating the town’s flood plain ordinance.

His resignation was unanimously approved Tuesday night by the five remaining council members - Bryon Marshall, David Bria, Matt Ross, Caroline Thompson and Mike Ruttle, who hasn’t attended a council meeting in months following a public dust-up with former councilwoman Brady.

With McGovern’s recent announcement, come January the newly-seated council made up of five Democrats and one Republican will have another vacancy to fill.

Council is expected to announce the opening at the beginning of January and immediately begin the process of accepting applications to fill that vacancy.

According to borough solicitor Bucky Clouser, the appointee will serve for two years until the next municipal election.

In other news, the borough’s engineer announced that the state has awarded the town a $125,000 grant for phase two of the North Main Street sidewalk project.

“However, that’s not quite enough to move forward with the project so we will be applying for a storm water and sewer grant to cover the drainage cost of the project, which hopefully will get a little bit further in that endeavor.”

Phase two would extend the sidewalk northward on the east side of the street to the Mary Yardley Footbridge easement.

The engineer also announced that PennDOT has approved its plans to upgrade the traffic signal at Main and Afton Avenue. The upgrade will include timing upgrades and audible pedestrian crossing signals for the blind.

The project could go out for bid as early as the first week in December.

In other news, Michelle Sharer, the president of the Friends of Lake Afton, announced that Project Relay (Remediate the Erosion at Lake Afton in Yardley) has been completed thanks to volunteer Dave Bowker who designed and carried out a stormwater improvement project on the lakeshore between the St. Andrew’s parking lot and the Old Library.

The new runoff system will divert water while, at the same time, prevent severe ground erosion from reoccurring.

The project was paid for with private donations from concerned residents and businesses.

Next up for the Friends will be Project Shade, a much more ambitious project that will reclaim portions of the lake to provide enough ground to plant shade trees around the perimeter of the centerpiece lake.

Leanne Poffenberger, who chairs the borough’s Shade Tree Commission, offered the commission’s assistance and resources to help with the project.

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