YARDLEY BOROUGH >> The borough council has given its engineer the go ahead to pursue a grant from the state Department of Community and Economic Development for the second phase of the North Main Street sidewalk project.

Competitive grants available through the multi-modal transportation program range from $100,000 to $3 million with no match required, borough engineer Thomas Beach told council at its July 16 meeting.

If successful in applying and winning a grant, phase two would extend the North Main Street sidewalk to at least the Mary Yardley Footbridge pedestrian easement.

The footbridge, which spans the historic Delaware Canal at Fuld Avenue, links North Main Street with Rivermawr via a public easement and pedestrian bridge. The easement and bridge also provide an emergency evacuation route to and from Rivermawr during flooding events.

Resident Jim McGrath of North Delaware Avenue strongly recommended that the second phase extend the sidewalk to at least the bridge easement, arguing that the pedestrian connection would help justify the grant and give it a better shot at being successful.

The first phase of the North Main Street sidewalk project, which cost $675,000 to build in 2018 and was paid for through a grant, extended the sidewalk on the east side of North Main Street from the Grist Mill parking lot to 88 North Main Street.

The three phase sidewalk project will eventually link the town center to the borough line at McKinley Avenue. It is designed to provide safe pedestrian access to the business district for residents living north of Afton Avenue.

In other business, the council voted to appeal the rejection of the borough’s 2018 elevation and reconstruction funding application to the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

In its latest flood mitigation application, the borough is seeking between $2.8 and $3.4 million from the federal government to assist in elevating 11 homes and reconstructing one home in the borough’s floodplain.

The application, however, was rejected after a reviewer found it “technically feasible, but not cost effective” and therefore not eligible for funding. “The proposed project cost exceeds the project benefit of $1.165 million,” the reviewer concluded.

The borough, however, contends that the facts and figures “unequivocally prove the project benefit exceeds the the proposed budget.”

Although the borough has been informed there’s a “slim chance” its appeal will be successful because of the size of its request and that only two appeals will be granted across the state, council voted to spend $750 to appeal the decision.

Council also directed its engineers and administration to resubmit the application this fall.

The council’s decisions found support from at least two residents in attendance at the July 16 borough meeting.

Resident Jim McGrath, whose home is on the elevation list, said it’s important the borough “stay vigilant” in its pursuit of the full grant. “It’s in our common interest to get this done,” he said.

Meanwhile, resident Dan Mohn advocated for aggressively appealing the decision.

“When we do these types of things we send a message that we are committed to getting these homes elevated and out of the floodplain without destroying our neighborhoods down there,” he said.

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