YARDLEY BOROUGH >> In a unanimous vote, the borough council on Jan. 21 formally declared a vacancy on council and set the wheels in motion to fill the empty seat.
The vacancy was created by the decision of councilman-elect Patrick McGovern not to accept his seat on council. His decision followed a political dust-up in November over a sarcastic social media page he created.
Council announced that it will be accepting resumes and letters of interest from potential candidates through 11:59 pm on January 31. Resumes and letters received after that date won’t be considered.
Council has scheduled a special meeting on February 11 to publicly interview candidates and will either make an appointment that night or at its Feb. 18 council meeting. The public will be allowed to ask questions of the candidates during the interview process.
Only borough residents who are registered voters will be considered for the vacancy. As of Tuesday, three candidates had stepped forward to fill the seat.
To apply for the opening, send letters of interest along with a resume to Borough Manager Paula Johnson, 56 South Main Street, Yardley 19067. An application is available online at YardleyBoro.com.
In other news at the Jan. 22 meeting, council Vice President Caroline Thompson announced a new borough program entitled “Council in the Community,” where council members will be leading various service projects in the community.
The first project - a general cleanup along the Delaware Canal and around Lake Afton - will be led by Councilwoman Kim Segal-Morris on Saturday, Feb. 1 from 8 to 10 a.m. Members of the community are welcome to participate, said Thompson.
Future projects include flower beds, cleaning up signage coming into town, freshening up the tot lot and potentially a cleanup at the Reading Avenue Woods.
In other business, the borough’s engineer reported that they have submitted plans to the council for the replacement of the Mary Yardley Footbridge and expect to be formalizing bid specs in the coming weeks for the project.
Borough resident Susan Taylor, the executive Director of the Friends of the Delaware Canal, which has been working with the borough on fundraising for the project, objected to plans by the engineer to replace the bridge with a fiberglass span.
“A fiberglass bridge is not appropriate for a national historic landmark. It may be expeditious. It may be cheaper. But there are no fiberglass bridges across the Delaware Canal. It would be unprecedented,” Taylor told council.
Last replaced in the 1980s by a wooden span, the FootBridge crosses the historic Delaware Canal just north of Edgewater Avenue, linking North Main Street with Rivermawr via a public easement.
A borough-owned bridge has been at that location for 100 years and has been an important part of the walkability of Yardley, providing footpath access for residents in the northern areas of the borough to the canal and an emergency access and an evacuation route during floods impacting Rivermawr.
In 2019, an independent inspection done on the bridge by the Friends of the Delaware Canal revealed that the overall condition of the bridge is “structurally deficient” and that various components of the span are either in “fair or poor condition.”
Following that report, the Mary Yardley Footbridge Committee recommended replacement of the bridge as soon as possible with regular inspection of its condition and maintenance for safety until the bridge can be replaced. The committee also recommended that the bridge be replaced by a steel structure to prolong its life.
During public comment, Taylor asked council to lobby PennDOT to consider replacing a crumpled metal guardrail separating Lake Afton and North Main Street with one that’s more harmonious with its environment.
“First of all it would be great to fix the guardrail. I would hope that Yardley Borough could think bigger and better beyond PennDOT’s standard s-curve guardrail that’s out there now and put in a wooden guardrail or some other type of guardrail that PennDOT would approve that is more harmonious with the environment and with the lake itself.”
The idea won support from Barry Sharer who lives on the north side of the lake. He said a wooden guardrail would be much more in character with the surrounding area and the lake. The current rail, he said, has been crumpled for about two years.
Also during public comment, David Appelbaum from Experience Yardley announced plans for the next 2nd Saturday to be held on Feb. 8.
The event will feature a chocolate crawl theme in conjunction with Valentine’s Day. The day will include chocolate-themed events, a pop-up chocolate shop, a book swap with brownies at the Old Library by Lake Afton and a drawing for a chance to win $1500 worth of gifts and prizes.
Supported by Visit Bucks County, 2nd Saturday takes place every month in downtown Yardley. Visitors and residents are invited to stroll around and experience Yardley's food and beverage options, specialty retail, and wellness services. Each month a variety of businesses offer specials, entertainment, activities and events with a monthly theme.
For the latest details, check out 2nd Saturday Yardley's FaceBook page and look for the posters all over downtown the week before the event.