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Federal grant will help elevate Yardley riverfront houses


Chris English

A $2 million federal grant will keep more Yardley Borough residents out of the water.

Council President David Bria announced the award from the Federal Emergency Management Agency at the April 20 virtual meeting, saying the money will be used to elevate about eight homes near the Delaware River, a move that will keep living spaces out of harm’s way when the river overflows its banks and causes flooding in the borough.

Also at the meeting, Bria announced a $312,147 grant from PennDOT that will be used to install another 1,200 feet of sidewalk on the East side of North Main Street. Council members also held a brief discussion on when in-person meetings might resume.

Bria said the borough will act as kind of a go-between on the FEMA grant, helping to faciitate details of the elevations while working with residents and the federal agency. He roughly estimated all the elevations wouldn’t be completed for two or three years.

Several home and business owners in Yardley have jacked up their structures in recent years to protect against flooding, using either their own funds, FEMA grants or a combination of both.

“We tried for this grant twice before in recent years but I guess the third time is a charm,” Bria said. “This is great news. It will not only allow the homeowners to live in their homes safely without worrying so much, but will also bring back the value of their homes if they, at some point, decide to sell.”

He said the PennDOT grant will allow the borough to complete the second phase of its planned sidewalk construction on North Main Street. The walk is being installed on the east side of the road.

The third and final phase will eventually extend the sidewalk another several hundred feet up to the borough’s border with Lower Makefield, Bria added.

“It’s been the years-long plan in Yardley that residents will be able to safely walk from any point in the borough to any other point,” he said. “This grant will help us further that goal.”

Like with many other municipalities across the state, Yardley’s council and other governmental bodies have been holding only virtual meetings since the coronavirus pandemic struck more than a year ago. Bria said that will mostly likely continue for at least the next few months.

He said his personal opinion is that borough officials more seriously consider resuming in-person meetings when everyone who wants the COVID-19 vaccine has gotten it.

“One of the concerns is that our meeting room is so physically small,” Bria said. “We’re not like some other towns who have been able to resume live meetings, at least on a limited basis, by spreading out.”

Other council members mostly agreed with Bria’s assessment, though John McCann suggested the borough could possibly hold some in-person meetings outdoors as the weather warms up

Council member Uri Feiner said borough officials should look into whether the meeting room and other parts of borough hall need ventilation work to better protect against the coronavirus and other germs and viruses.

Mayor Chris Harding complimented Bria on the way has organized and held the virtual meetings.

“You’re killing it with these Zoom meetings,” Harding said.

“Thank you, but I’m looking forward to getting back,” Bria responded.

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