Community leaders discuss outreach in borough
Every quarter, Catasauqua community leaders get together to better understand how they can coordinate their community outreach programs. Blocker’s Coffeehouse hosted the community meeting Jan. 14.
Catasauqua Area School District Superintendent Robert Spengler expressed his concern over anticipated growth in the district. North Catasauqua is adding 150 households at the former Willowbrook Golf course. The Iron Works project can bring in as many as 200 apartments, although tenants there are expected to be professional couples without children. Hanover Township is looking at a project on Airport Road and American Parkway to develop residential apartments along with commercial space. Additionally, a minor residential development is proposed across from Sheckler Elementary School.
According to Spengler, the school district can absorb some growth. The constrained facility at this point is Sheckler Elementary.
Bishop James McIver reported his church, Revolution Church, will be taken by Pennsylvania Department of Transportation as the intersection at Race and Lehigh streets is improved. He is in the market for a new church with ample parking and would like to stay in Catasauqua.
The Rev. Brian Riedy, pastor of Holy Trinity Memorial Lutheran Church, mentioned parishioners held a lunch program over the summer that was well attended. Melissa Brown, executive director of the Suburban North Family YMCA, reported the facility has programs for families that include more than just exercise classes. Brown also hires the staff to manage the Catasauqua pool.
As the group realized, coordinating activities would make a bigger impact on the community. A quick assessment has summer lunch programs at the YMCA and Holy Trinity Memorial Lutheran Church. The school district has funded programs as well.
Holy Trinity’s summer program fed lunch to 70 kids over the summer. Can the program grow? Yes, but there is a need for more volunteers. McIver stepped up to volunteer members of his congregation. United Way and the Lehigh Valley Food Council have nutrition programs that can be available.
Police Chief Douglas Kish wants to involve the school resource officer in these events.
“When school is out, we will have our resource officer available. We don’t want to lose the contacts and continuity that were developed during the school year,” he said.
Senior services were discussed, and there is a need to coordinate with Meals on Wheels to provide some guidance.
Getting information out to families was identified as a problem. Spengler suggested using Leslie Estrada, the school’s community liaison, as a resource.
One suggestion was to have some of the summer gatherings at the fire station on Bridge Street. The venue is large enough to hold a crowd, and there might be interest among students in future careers as volunteer firefighters.
The array of options needs to be distilled to a workable program that Catasauqua can build on. The leaders will go back to their respective organizations and develop plans and needs assessments. The group plans to meet again May 13 to lay out a plan for Catasauqua’s summer programs.