Lower Macungie commissioners voted Sept. 6 in favor of making a financial investment to extend water lines in the vicinity of Brookside and Indian Creek roads.
However, the vote was contentious as Commissioner Doug Brown challenged the wisdom of laying out about $55,000 for the project.
Supporters of the project questioned the safety of the hundreds of children who visit the facility every day because there currently are no fire hydrants serving the .
The safety concern extends to township workers as well since there are no fire hydrants that protect the either.
Dale Dries, owner of , approached the Board of Commissioners Thursday to enlist the township's financial help with a project that will allow him to develop the property adjacent to his store.
Commissioner Jim Lanscek led the debate by saying the township's public works committee, on which he sits, supports the project.
"This should have been done by the township when the library was built," Lanscek said, "If we had followed our own rules, it would have been."
But Commissioner Doug Brown questioned the financial wisdom of township support, saying there must have been a reason the then-township supervisors didn't do it.
Lanscek -- who was the township's zoning officer at the time the decision was made more than 10 years ago -- said the supervisors thought it was too expensive. Bill Erdman, township engineer then and now, confirmed the reason for the decision.
The project will cost approximately $300,000. The Lehigh County Authority will pay $150,000 and Dries will pay $100,000.
The remaining $54,534 is the amount Dries asked the BOC to contribute. It would become part of the 2013 budget.
Brown wanted to know what the advantage would be to the township, noting the community improvement would not generate any profit for Lower Macungie.
"Fire hydrants for public buildings," Engineer Bud Newton, who represented Dries, said.
Commissioner Roger Reis, who also sits on the Public Works Committee, agreed that it's a lot of money.
"But this should have been done. But between the number of people who use the library and township employees who work here and at the public works building, I feel an obligation to have a safe place. I like the idea of getting water there," Reis said.
Former Commissioner Joseph Pugliese approached the board. A fiscal conservative, his tenure ended in December 2011.
"For every dollar the township puts into this project it will get $5 back," Pugliese said.
"It's a great value...I'm surprised that we have a library full of children every day and a facility worth tens of millions of dollars [that is not already protected]. It is foolish not to spend $55,000 to safeguard millions. I urge the board to support this. We need to protect our investment," Pugliese said.
Commissioners Lanscek, Reis and Ryan Conrad voted in favor of funding the project.
Brown voted no.
Commissioner Ron Eichenberg abstained from discussion and voting because he is involved with the development of the Dries property.