Hellertown Area Library Recipient of $50,000 Grant

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Library Lower Saucon Council

Yard signs urging Lower Saucon Township Council to “fully fund our Hellertown Area Library” are displayed throughout the township and Hellertown borough. The signs are sold as a fundraiser by the Friends of the Hellertown Area Library, who began selling them in the wake of dispute over a library services agreement. (FILE PHOTO)

Community funding issues the Hellertown Area Library has faced since the start of this year are being addressed with help from a state official.

State Sen. Lisa Boscola (D-18) announced Tuesday that she has secured $50,000 in state funding for the library to help address the unresolved funding issues between the Borough of Hellertown and Lower Saucon Township.

In January, township council voted 4-1 not to adopt a new five-year funding agreement with the Hellertown Area Library, instead offering the organization a $50,000 one-time donation, which its board of trustees later declined to accept. Since then, many township residents have implored council to reinstate funding for the library, which continues to serve both borough and township residents.

“The Hellertown Area Library has provided terrific services and programs to the residents of Hellertown and Lower Saucon,” Boscola said in a news release about the grant funding that was announced. “Unresolved funding issues put those services and programs at risk for both the adults and children who rely upon them.”

“Hopefully, this grant will allow the two communities the time to come together, which will be a positive for all of their residents,” Boscola added.

Hellertown Library

The Hellertown Area Library is located at 409 Constitution Avenue in Hellertown, Pa. (FILE PHOTO)

“Hellertown Area Library is beyond grateful for this generous grant and the selfless support of Sen. Boscola,” said Hellertown Area Library Director Noelle Kramer. “We are also thankful to the Mayor, Council and Manager of Hellertown Borough for supporting HAL in applying for this grant.”

“HAL is proud to offer a thriving materials collection as well as educational and social programs to our community,” Kramer added. “The staff and Board of Hellertown Area Library are thrilled to work with Sen. Boscola and Hellertown Borough to continue the rich offerings that patrons have come to love and depend upon.”

“Hellertown Borough is grateful for the continued partnership with Senator Boscola and her tireless efforts on behalf of the Hellertown Area Library,” added Tom Rieger, Hellertown Borough Council President. “This $50,000 grant award along with the $75,000 supplemental emergency appropriation from the Borough’s American Rescue funding will ensure this valuable community resource continues without interruption for the residents of the Borough. This is shining example of good government and how it can work together to make sure tomorrow is better than today.”

In the spring, borough and township officials met to discuss a preference for a more regionalized approach to library services some township council members had previously highlighted, however there has been no introduction of a proposal for such an approach.

In a recent post on her Saucon Shenanigans blog, Lower Saucon Township resident Andrea Wittchen reported that while the Hellertown Area Library’s funding issues continue, the nearby Southern Lehigh Public Library in Upper Saucon Township is once again the recipient of a $50,000 donation from Lower Saucon Township.

Wittchen said the donation–which she said had not been accepted as of June 15–was mentioned within the context of a discussion about funding for the Southern Lehigh Public Library that took place during a June 13 Southern Lehigh School Board meeting.

In January, Lower Saucon Township Council voted 4-1 to donate $50,000 to the SLPL, whose board of directors later said in a statement that “it is not SLPL’s intention to ‘shop’ our services to additional municipalities and organizations.”

“We currently serve Upper Saucon Township, Lower Milford Township, Coopersburg borough and the Southern Lehigh School District,” the statement said. “That service area has worked very well for many years and our plans are to continue that relationship for the foreseeable future.”

Boscola represents parts of Northampton County in the state Senate, while the three municipalities that are part of the Southern Lehigh School District are located in Lehigh County, where they are represented in Harrisburg by state Sen. Pat Browne (R-16).

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