The Falls Township board of supervisors recently advanced plans for a new Wawa in the Lincoln Highway shopping center.
During their April 19 meeting, the supervisors unanimously granted conditional use approval of the 5,585-square-foot space, which is slated to feature a convenience store, 16 gas pumps, 44 parking spaces and a drive-thru window.
Engineer Justin Geonnotti, of Dynamic Engineering, said the drive-thru will include a right-in entrance off Lincoln Highway and Arleans Avenue. Two lanes of stacking will allow a full bypass for vehicles wishing to leave the drive-thru area. Geonnotti added that the developer is taking “great care” to ensure safe access for motorists and pedestrians alike.
Additional site improvements will include a 6-foot-wide sidewalk along Lincoln Highway and upgrades to existing push buttons for walk signals. Designated crossing to the front and back of the store will also be added. Supervisor John Palmer said that adding a sidewalk is a “must.”
As the shopping center prepares for its newest addition, the existing 5,200-square-foot Arosso, A Touch of Sicily restaurant will be demolished. According to Arosso owner Dave Monterosso, a 3,000-square-foot eatery will be opened inside the shopping center, adjacent to Big Lots and in a portion of the former Family Dollar Store.
“I needed the smaller spaces,” he said of his decision to downsize his business. “It’s more moderate. It’s more functional.”
When a resident expressed concern about the possibility of a fuel leak impacting waterways, Wawa real estate project engineer Mike Redel outlined safety protocols in place at every Wawa convenience store that operates with gas pumps. State-of-the-art equipment includes double-walled tanks, double-walled piping and sensors in tanks with piping.
“We’re very conscious of the environment,” Redel said. “We definitely do not want to impact the environment around us. I’m not concerned that’s going to happen here.”
Redel explained that, if a joint breaks in the containment unit, store associates and Wawa headquarters officials are notified immediately. If the hose connected to a customer’s car gets ripped off, a valve closes off instantly.
If less than five gallons of fuel is spilled on the ground, store personnel use equipment located at each of the islands to surround the spill, soak it up and store spilled fuel safely. For larger spills, Redel said Wawa uses a hazardous waste removal company to “chase it down for as far as they need to.” He stressed that these are “extremely rare instances” and said he is “not even aware of one.”
This traditional Wawa comes several months after Bucks County’s first drive-thru-only Wawa opened in Falls Township in January.
In other Falls news, police chief Nelson Whitney provided the supervisors with an update on the Falls Township Supporting Recovery Program, which pairs local police with a certified recovery specialist. Since the program’s launch two months ago, personnel have answered 30 substance abuse calls. Of those 30 people, Whitney said 10 are in the process of being placed into treatment or evaluated to determine the level of care needed.
So far in 2021, Falls has had 18 overdoses. Two were in early April, just 45 minutes apart. Both resulted in death. According to the American Addiction Centers, drug overdoses are the No. 1 cause of injury-related death in the U.S., killing an average of 44,000 people annually.
Even with the concerted effort among the township, police and recovery specialists, Whitney said that the opioid epidemic will take time to mitigate.
“It doesn’t seem like we’re getting ahead of it,” said Palmer.
“It does feel like this uphill battle because it is,” responded Whitney.
Also during the meeting, the supervisors unanimously approved a maintenance services litter collection agreement with PennDOT to allow the Falls Township Public Works Department to rid state-owned roadways of trash. Without this agreement, Falls crews would not be permitted to pick up garbage on any state roads.
In March, Falls kicked off an extensive litter cleanup effort and asked the police department to ramp up enforcement of littering and dumping. Since then, residents have commented on social media about problem areas, including Route 1, Route 13, Old Bristol Pike and Tyburn Road, all of which are owned by the state. In addition to clearing the garbage, staff is permitted to cut back bushes along the entrance to Route 1 to help police with speeding.
The supervisors urged residents to leave the cleanup of major roadways to township staff, though they’re invited to plan a cleanup in their neighborhood or development. They can request trash bags, rubber gloves and safety vests by emailing Public Works director Jason Lawson at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Samantha Bambino can be reached at email@example.com