Excerpted from “History of Hatfield Borough, 1898 – 1998”
Published in 1998, Hatfield Museum and History Society.
The First Year
The second meeting of the Hatfield Borough Council was held on August 18, 1898. At this meeting, the new Council adopted “Rules for the Government of and Conducting Business in the Town Council of the Borough of Hatfield,” one of which was the imposition of a 50-cent fine for any member of Council failing to appear at a Council meeting. At the November, 1898 meeting, Council passed an ordinance allowing the Keystone Telegraph & Telephone Co. to erect poles and wires through the Borough after which the Telephone Co. offered to allow Hatfield Borough to string its future electric wires on their poles free of charge. At the December 5, 1898 meeting of the fledgling Hatfield Borough Council, the Inland Traction Company (ITC) presented an ordinance requesting a right-of-way through the borough on which they could operate a trolley system. The council took no action on the request at that time. During meetings over the next two months, additional discussion was held relative to road widths, sidewalk widths and center of street locations, with everyone on Council having a different opinion. Trying to balance the needs of the Borough with the concerns of property owners was a big problem. Several residents complained that the new streets would come too close to their houses, taking away much of their front yards. The matter was referred to the Ordinance Committee. During a March, 1899 meeting, the following streets were suggested as the proper ones to begin improvements on: Beginning at the northern Borough line on New St. (Penn Ave.) to Union St., to Market St., to Main St. (at that time E. Lincoln Ave. was part of Market St.), to the railroad, to the end of the proposed trolley line (Railroad Ave. & W. Vine St. to the Borough Line). This was the same route that the ITC proposed for the trolley line through the Borough. On April 3, after much discussion, the result of a vote on street widths was a tie. The President cast the deciding vote in favor of 44-foot widths. Also in April, an ordinance was passed allowing the Inland Traction Co. to install trolley tracks through the Borough
Council approved the purchase of seventeen #2 Dietz oil lamps for the streets. Daniel Gehman was appointed to clean and light the lamps for which he was paid 14 1/2 cents per hour. By February 1903 there was a total of 25 oil lamps illuminating the Borough streets.
Council began discussions on supplying the Borough with electric power. Later that year, Council authorized a ten-year contract with the West Telford Electric Light and Power Company for the furnishing of electricity to the Borough. On December 1, 1908, electricity came to Hatfield Borough. The new electric street lights were turned on at dusk and turned off at 10:30 p.m. The lights were turned on again at 5:30 a.m. until dawn. The rate for electricity was set at 12 cents per KW, less 20% if paid before the 10th of the month.
On the recommendation of the Hatfield Borough Board of Health, Council hired a garbage hauler to remove the borough’s garbage in 1926. Also that year: Hatfield Township requested that the Borough cooperate with them in the matter of police protection; Council discussed assigning numbers to all of the houses in the Borough, but no action was taken; After many years of maintaining the streets themselves, the Borough hired Good Roads Co. to oil & chip all of the Borough streets.
Council instructed the Borough Secretary to notify representatives of the Lansdale Provision Co. to keep pigs off of private property when driving them through town or they would be liable for any damages.
The Borough hired its first police officer, Allen Roth, to work two nights a week.
The Borough began looking into the feasibility of constructing and operating its own electric generating plant. After much discussion, (and some heated controversy), it was decided to proceed with the construction of a diesel powered electric generating plant, and on July 6, 1931, the Hatfield Borough electric plant was placed in operation.
The annexation of additional Township property on W. Broad St. was discussed, but decided against. Also that year, the Borough built a new water tower on N. Wayne Ave., on ground purchased from Bethany Church.
Seven Borough residents submitted a petition to Council requesting them to prevent the opening of a slaughterhouse at 128 S. Main St. No action was taken at that time, although it started discussion of establishing a Zoning Committee to create a Zoning Ordinance for the Borough.
Hatfield Borough joined the nation in the war effort with food rationing, War Bond Drives, Victory Gardens (sponsored by the Hatfield Chamber of Commerce), Gas Stamps, Fuel Oil Stamps, Food Stamps, and bans on pleasure driving. Collections were held for old silk & nylon stockings, paper, tin cans and used cooking grease. (Advertisements in the Hatfield Times reported that 1 teaspoon of used cooking grease would make enough gunpowder to produce five machine gun bullets).
August 14, 1945
V-J Day, was indeed a day of celebration. The fire siren sounded for about 10 minutes after which the Fire Company started a parade around town that grew quickly as it proceeded through the streets of the Borough. Bells and sirens sounded for hours in celebration of the day of victory they had long been looking for.
The early 1950’s
A group of Hatfield Township residents approached Borough Council to discuss annexing properties on Cowpath Rd. up to Bergey Rd. Council conducted a survey that showed that most residents were not in favor of the annexation and the subject was dropped.
The Borough Sewer Treatment Plant was placed into operation in January, 1960, (the entire sanitary sewer system construction project was completed by September), and the Borough picked up resident’s Christmas trees, at the request of the Fire Chief, to reduce the fire hazard. Also in 1960; Council adopted a resolution stating that connecting Union St. to Forty Foot Road with a straight road had merit and should be considered by the State Highway Department.
Because of the illness of Borough Secretary Fryer, Council advertised for a new secretary with the following advertisement: “MALE – BOROUGH SECRETARY, State age, qualifications, references & salary desired.” The following month, David L. Leidy was hired as Secretary at $6500.
The Borough signed an agreement with Hatfield Township in February 1965, to jointly develop a pool & park on Chestnut Street in Hatfield Township.
The Borough solicited bids to construct a new municipal administration building on Borough owned property on Edgewood Dr. at The Circle. Two months later, Council decided not to build a new structure for the Borough offices on Edgewood Dr., but to renovate the borough garage to include office space. Ordinance #219 was adopted in 1973, prohibiting the keeping of pigs and hogs in the Borough. This ordinance was amended in May, 1976, to prohibit the keeping of any livestock or farm animals, including pigs, hogs, horses, cows, chickens, ducks and sheep, within the Borough.
The Borough discontinued generating its own electricity in 1977, and began purchasing all of its electric power from PP&L.
The sale of the Hatfield Borough Water System to the North Penn Water Authority was completed in February 1988. In June of that year, after 15 years of study and 2 years of intense negotiations, Hatfield Borough approved an agreement to tie-in with the Hatfield Township Municipal Authority’s system, for treatment of the Borough’s sewage. The Borough would, however, continue to own and maintain the sewer system.
At the June 1992 meeting of the Hatfield Borough Council, the Police Department reported that a four foot alligator was found loose in a stream in the borough. The reptile, a Borough resident’s pet, had been tied to a tree but got loose. Some discussion was held relative to adopting an Ordinance restricting such animals but no action was taken.
On January 7 & 8, 1996, the Blizzard of 1996 hit the area, dumping 30 inches of snow. Hatfield Borough used 60% of its 1996 snow removal budget on those two days!
In the fall of 1997, after many years of planning and negotiations, the Borough purchased a tract of land behind the former Hanson Textile building with open space grant funds, and a contract was awarded to develop the property into a community park.