YARDLEY BOROUGH >> Yardley Borough is a step closer to expanding its police force with little to no impact on its budget.
At its July 7 virtual meeting, council voted unanimously to advertise an ordinance that would create a voluntary auxiliary police force in the borough.
The unit, which is permitted under the borough code, would be composed of up to 12 volunteers from the borough and surrounding communities who would assist police with traffic and crowd control, special details and augmenting the borough’s police force.
“It’s desperately needed,” said Chief Joseph Kelly, noting that the department has informally used volunteers in the past. “We’d like to codify it and have them under the umbrella of the police department,” he said.
Kelly proposed the creation of the auxiliary as a way of supplementing the borough’s paid officers and providing increased manpower in the borough.
For example, the chief said the borough doesn’t have enough personnel
for major parades. “We use a lot of police line tape in a lot of areas. The auxiliary police would allow us to cover a lot more of those posts,” said Kelly.
“It’s a low cost, free labor force multiplier where we’ll have labor consistent with our core values, our vision and our mission statement under the supervision of Yardley Borough,” added the Chief.
Kelly noted that the department and the borough could also benefit from the specialized skills that each member of the auxiliary would bring to the table, from carpentry skills to vehicle repair.
In addition, it would add a new level of transparency to the police department at a time where transparency has never been more important.
“This would allow us to bring some of our citizens in as volunteers and increase our transparency to the public,” he said.
According to Kelly, auxiliary members would not be sworn, would not carry weapons and would not be issued badges. They would take an oath, be trained and be provided with safety vests to be worn while on duty.
“I think it’s a great idea,” said Councilman Uri Feiner. “I appreciate the chief for coming up with creative ways to make better use of our limited resources. I can’t think of a better community in which to incorporate this where people want to be active and involved.”
Council plans to vote on the ordinance at its second meeting in July or at its first meeting in August.
Line of Credit
Under the solicitor’s report, council voted to advertise an ordinance that would establish a line of credit with the First National Bank of Newtown for up to $500,000 at an historically low interest rate of 1.7 percent.
The money would be available to potentially finance various capital projects, including renovations to borough hall; repairs to the annex building at Delaware and East Afton avenues; the Mary Yardley Bridge replacement project; the North Main Street Phase Two sidewalk project that would extend the sidewalk to the Mary Yardley Footbridge access path; and the potential acquisition of the former PECO substation lot in Rivermawr.
The line of credit would be available for up to a year with payments beginning in August 2022. The first payment would include a $10,000 principal payment.
The borough would be required to take out an initial draw of $50,000. After that, it would be up to Council to authorize additional draws for borough projects.
“This does not commit us to incurring the full amount of the note,” noted Council President David Bria.
“It makes a lot of sense. $50,000 is probably something we will use this year. It’s a reasonable amount,” said Councilman Ryan Berry. “And any further amount as you stated will need to be voted on so the risk is low that we’re going to spend wildly or get into too much debt without thinking it through with these projects we all care about.”
Bria added that the line of credit also gives the borough the flexibility to match any type of grant the borough might receive for a project such as the North Main Street sidewalk project.
“This is definitely a case of making lemons into lemonade,” added Councilwoman Caroline Thompson. “We are currently making a payment of between $100,000 and $150,000 a year on our last sidewalk line of credit so it will be very comfortable for us to continue making that payment when we start paying this off. It’s well within our means and it’s going to enable us to finish off some projects that have been waiting.”
Loosening of parking restrictions extended
In other action, council voted 7-0 to extend for another month the loosening of parking restrictions to benefit borough restaurants during the COVID-19 emergency.
About five borough restaurants, including the Continental, Pretty Bird, the Vault, Yardley Inn and the Tap Room have taken advantage of the waiver allowing them to place tents in their parking lots for outdoor dining.
In a related move, council voted unanimously to extend its approval of reduced permit fees for outdoor tent usage for another month.
In response to the passage of the two motions, resident David Appelbaum from Experience Yardley announced that “it’s mostly likely we will continue with Yardley Restaurant Week” in August.
He also thanked council for extending the outdoor dining motions “because it will be critical to the success of not only Restaurant Week, but also in helping our restaurants recover.”
In other business, council voted to oppose two applications for zoning relief for projects in the borough’s floodplain. Both are scheduled to be heard by the borough’s zoning hearing board.