Reading Avenue woods.

YARDLEY BOROUGH >> The borough council on October 15 voted to apply for a PECO Green Region grant to help beautify and cleanup the Reading Avenue Woods.

Councilman Ryan Berry, the liaison to the Reading Avenue Committee, made the motion, which was unanimously supported by council.

No sooner had the motion passed, Harper Avenue resident John Bachalis, who fought against the sale of the borough-owned property along with his neighbors, surprised the council by offering to donate $2,500 toward the borough’s match of the grant as a gesture of thanks to council for preserving the woods.

“We fought for this for so long. I feel like I should do something to step up, to help out,” said Bachalis.

Bachalis said he’s hoping others will also step forward and show their appreciation to the borough for its decision to preserve the wooded parcel located just west of the SEPTA train station on Reading Avenue.

Under the grant program, the borough can apply for up to $10,000, which requires an equal match from the borough. The council had planned to ask for $2,500 with a borough match of $2,500. With Bachalis’ donation, it will now be asking for at least $5,000 and possibly more depending upon whether other contributions are made as a result of Bachalis’ donation.

The borough has until the end of October to accept donations, finalize the grant application and submit it to PECO.

“That was a very kind thing that you just did,” Mayor Chris Harding told Bachalis. The mayor said he would post Harding’s gesture on FaceBook and encourage others to follow suit.

According to Berry, if the borough is successful in winning the grant the money would be used to clean up and beautify the wooded tract, which forms a natural barrier between the train tracks and the nearby residential neighborhoods.

Berry said that could include hiring an arborist, the removal of invasive plant species, tree plantings and a general cleanup of the property, along with anything else the committee feels is appropriate.

In March, council voted unanimously to approve a conservation easement that preserves the close to an acre property in perpetuity.

For more than a decade, prior councils had attempted to sell the land for residential development, a move strongly opposed by neighbors who fought to preserve the land, which acts as a sound and light barrier between their homes and the railroad tracks.

Brake retarders banned

In other business, council voted unanimously to amend the borough code to prohibit the use of engine brake retarders on Delaware and Afton avenues and directs the borough to install the appropriate signage informing truckers of the restriction.

Council said the operation of engine brake retarders, also known as Jake brakes, creates “an excessive noise” that “adversely affects the public health, safety and welfare of residents and constitutes a nuisance.”

The restrictions will take effect as soon as the required signage is installed at the beginning and ending of the restriction zone.

Council had also asked PennDOT for permission to institute the prohibition on Main Street, however due to the grade of the road the request was not approved.

The restriction zone on Delaware Avenue begins 110 feet south of Letchworth Avenue and extends northward to 110 feet south of Florence Avenue. The zone on Afton begins 450 feet west of Delaware Avenue and extends westward to 80 feet east of Sandy Run Road.

Zoning Board resignation

Council also voted unanimously to accept the resignation of Irene Silvius from the borough’s Zoning Hearing Board. Residents interested in serving on the board are asked to submit a letter of interest and their resume to the borough hall.

Date set for Harvest Day 2020

During her report, Councilwoman Caroline Thompson announced that next year’s Harvest Day will be held on Saturday, Sept. 26.

The street festival is typically held on the third Saturday in September. However, because the Jewish high holiday of Rosh Hashanah falls on that day next year, organizers made the decision to move the event.

Humps vs. tables

The borough’s engineer also reported that speed humps were installed by the contractor on Breece Drive instead of speed tables, which are wider and flatter than speed humps.

The work was done as part of a borough milling and repaving project in mid-September.

“We are working with the contractor to re-mobilize to get the speed tables installed,” the engineer told council.

Council President Bryon Marshall said after the meeting that the contractor didn’t follow the specs. “They are going to go back and make adjustments,” he said. “They’re a little abrupt,” he said of the humps. “We were trying to avoid that.”

Borough to oppose zoning appeals

In other business, following a brief executive session the council voted 3-1 to send its solicitor to the October 28 zoning hearing board meeting to oppose two zoning appeals.

One appeal is for a variance that would allow the construction of a deck in the floodway at a home on Delaware Avenue. The other appeal is for five variances to construct a house on a vacant parcel located in the floodplain on North Main Street.

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