Wednesday, December 21, 2005

Yes Virginia, there is a Sanity Clause

Lower Mount Bethel Township is out in front when it comes to solving traffic and school tax woes! They applied for and received a grant for a Park & Ride and at least one of their residents is asking that developers be charged impact fees to fund additional school construction costs. Kudos.

The Park & Ride may help Forks and College Hill residents by giving them a place to park and ride and thus cut down some of the traffic passing through to get to the bridges. This is good news indeed.

As to the school tax impact fee, Representative Grucela (also from LMBT) has drafted a bill that will allow local municipalities to determine the real effects of development on their school systems and charge appropriate impact fees to the developers - which will lessen needed new school construction costs now imposed on existing property owners. Read Grucela's bill, HB-102.

Sunday, December 18, 2005

BoS Meeting 12/15/05

The Board of Supervisors December 15, 2005 went on in spite of the ice storm. The bad weather did not prevent Joe Nixon, Morning Call, from attending. Please read his article for details on the budget discussion. The planned 6:30 PM workshop session to discuss Supervisor-elect David Howell’s proposal (for standing committees to replace the current liaison structure) was cancelled due to the scheduled absence of the two of the Supervisors. It will be rescheduled in January 2006. Supervisor Bonnie Nicholas noted that Mr. Howell will be present (as a Supervisor) then.

REPORTS: SUPERVISORS, MANAGER, ENGINEER & SOLICITOR
  • Supervisor Nicholas said that she had the Sewer Authority minutes available.
  • Supervisor Henning Holmgaard noted that the Police Department is now accredited. Holmgaard, Township Manager Kathy Kichline and Officer Jim Rowden attended the ceremony. Chief Greg Dorney was absent due to a family emergency. The Commission consisted of 16 members representing 1204 individual police departments in the State. Thirty-three are accredited – Forks Township is one of them. One department was decertified because of non-compliance. The Borough of Jenkinstown became 32 and Forks Township was 33 in the accreditation process. Greg Dorney and his department accomplished this feat in 18 months. Of the 125 standards, Forks met and passed 118 – the remaining 7 were non-applicable. All of the police peers sitting at the table voted yes for Forks to be accredited. If the department does not keep the standards up, they can be decertified. Dorney said that the department will be reassessed every three years by three assessors . Two proofs of compliance will be necessary for each standard. Holmgaard said that new seals will be placed on Township police cars. Rowden is our accreditation manager. He is eligible to be part of an assessment team in the future. Dorney is also eligible to become a member of the commission.
  • Holmgaard said that a blue spruce has been acquired from Wayne and Nancy Docker (Forks Elected Auditors) and Jennifer Long. It is 28 feet tall. The township will replace it with an 8-10 foot tree. The blue spruce tree ball will weigh 25-30 tons. John Ackerman asked how much it would cost to move it to its new home. Holmgaard said that the cost was unimportant.
  • Supervisor Don Miller presented his Parks Department report. The recreation season is in full progress. Wrestling matches have been scheduled and basketball/volleyball play will continue until March. There are 30 teams from Forks Township this winter.
  • Director of Public Works Gary Sandt said that they are still working on leaves, using the vacuum and/or a bucket to pick them up. Sandt mentioned that they were still working on the roads, both leaves and snow. They are picking up 18 loads per day. Some people were happy with their progress – some were not.
  • Township Manager Cathy Kichline noted that seven letters had been received for the Planning Commission vacancies. Also received were applications for the Vacancy Board and for the Recreation Board. Holmgaard said that the Board needs to appoint Planning Commission members as soon as possible – or January 3rd at the latest. Kichline mentioned that it was necessary to review the letters and interview the candidates. Copies of the letters of interest were already in the Board members packets (except for Ackerman’s which were handed to him directly.) Ackerman suggested that a workshop be scheduled to discuss and interview candidates. This is now scheduled for 5:30 PM on January 03, 2006.
  • Nicholas questioned Kichline regarding a web-site meeting. Holmgaard said that he had called the meeting, not Kichline. Bonnie said she had difficulty locating the members of Planning and Zoning on the web-site. Every time she clicked on them, she ended up with an entire listing of township staff.
  • Nicholas said that she would like to see a checklist of all maintenance schedules for each building. She wants to make sure that all buildings are checked on a regular basis so that "we don’t end up with any leaky roofs." She recommended establishing a maintenance schedule for each building and said she would like to see them.
  • Police Chief Dorney had nothing to report on other than the accreditation (see above).
  • Finance Manager Jim Farley said that he met with the (hired) auditors this week.
CORRESPONDENCE - Holmgaard noted that Supervisor David Hoff sent a letter with his comments on the new committee structure (proposal) and that he approves the concept.

NEW BUSINESS

PERMANENT STANDING COMMITTEES PROPOSAL - This item was tabled for further review in January. Nicholas suggested the continuation of the liaison relationships until a workshop could be re-scheduled.


GODDARD SCHOOL/LAND DEVELOPMENT PLAN - Plans were presented by Hanover Engineering for the 8,000 sq. ft. Goddard School (previously approved) as part of Sullivan Trail I. It is on the last parcel of land in the development. The Planning Commission gave conditional approval for 30 parking spaces, a reduction in the number required. Subject to Engineer Fred Hay’s letter, it is not necessary for it to go before the Zoning Hearing Board. Additional parking spaces can be provided if necessary at a later date. It was also noted that ingress and egress driveways were being provided per the Planning Commission’s recommendation. Hay said that it was a clean plan and recommended approval. The motion passed 4-0.


ELSIE BROWN/MINOR SUBDIVISION - This plan for a two-acre lot off Klein Road was presented by East Penn Engineering. John Daub, Elsie Louise Brown’s nephew and power-of-attorney, said that Elsie Louise Brown wishes to put the remaining farm in the "conservation district." He met with the Planning Commission last week. He has received an easement from Mrs. Brown for the septic system for the subdivision. Brown will turn the rest of the farm over to the County for "farmland preservation." Ackerman explained that the development rights were given to the County. Ackerman said that he helped to write the law, Act 515. Act 319 allows building of one house on two acres per year during 10 year period. One house is being presented now and one will come in next year in January. This needs to be done before the farm can be accepted into "farmland preservation." Ackerman said he had farmed this land for many years. Bonnie Nicholas thanked Daub (and his family) for their generosity.


KNOLLWOOD ESTATES SUBDIVISION - AMENDMENT TO PHASE I/IMPROVEMENT AGREEMENT - Ben Jon Road will be rebuilt by the developer, Nic Zawarski. An agreement has been signed and the Township will return the $28,000 deposit.


HOWARD HOMES LITIGATION SETTLEMENT - Two homeowners had a problem with storm water in their backyards and brought suit against the developer because they were not satisfied with developer’s response to their problem. Howard Homes then sued Forks Township. Solicitor Karl Kline recommended paying a $1,000 nuisance fee to settle the case, with the inclusion of a "no guilt" clause. The motion was approved.


FINAL ADOPTION OF THE 2006 OPERATING BUDGET GENERAL FUND AND UTILITY FUND - The proposed budget includes 4% raises and not the 3% as recommended at the last meeting. Since there is no (employee) review process in place, it was suggested that the Board go with the 4%. Supervisor Miller did not object to 4% raises and added that all managers were doing a good job and deserved 4%. He said it was just keeping up with inflation. The motion to accept the budget ended in tie vote, 2:2. Ackerman and Nicholas voted nay and Holmgaard and Miller voted for it.


Holmgaard said that a budget was needed before year-end and suggested meeting on December 29th to review it as well as agenda items 07, 08, and 09. At that time, the budget will be re-visited and all remaining issues will be dealt with.

There was no EXECUTIVE SESSION and the meeting was adjourned.


Our objective is to relate what is experienced at Forks Township meetings for those who cannot attend. We are attempting to be as factual as we can. If we make a mistake,
tell us via email or COMMENT here in the blog, and we will do our best to correct it. We are not perfect. We want to get it right.

Sunday, December 11, 2005

What do you think about... ? - F.A.C.'s Weekly Survey

F.A.C.'s 14th weekly survey question is up and waiting for you. CLICK HERE!

For previous weekly results, click on the links below:

Week #1 - Results

Q1. How long before the Board of Supervisors caves to developers' whims and changes Farmland Preservation requirements?
Week #2 - Results

Q2. Is Forks Township heading in the right direction?

Week #3 - Results

Q3. Will the fact that Board of Supervisors Candidate Leon (Lee) Fisher has thus far refused all public debate with his opponent affect your vote?
Week #4 - Results

Q4. Currently none of the township department heads live in Forks Township. Should there be a residency requirement for future hires of management personnel?

Week #5 - Results

Q5. If a developer builds a detention pond to a specification which later proves to be inadequately sized, should that developer be required to expand the detention ponds capacity?

Week #6 - Results


Q6. A - Did you know that an elected member of the Board of Supervisors serves a 6 year term?
B - Do you find yourself voting against a candidate rather than FOR a candidate in local elections?

Week #7 - Results

Q7. Forks is at a important crossroad in its growth. An election for Supervisor is just around the corner. How important is it to you to KNOW how a candidate thinks about Township issues before you cast your vote?

Week #8 - Results

Q8. The election is November 8, 2005. You are going to the polls. You feel fully informed of the issues facing the Township. You are confident in your choice because:
(select as many as apply)

Week #9 - Results

Q9. By now most of you know that some thief in the night has been stealing Howell For Forks Supervisor signs. This is your chance to rate the sign thieves.

Week #10 - Results

Q 10. David Howell is very aware of what is important to us, open space, open roads, open overnment, and sound financial planning. Let's help him to get started. Which is most important to you right now? Rate them 1-5 with 1 being the most important.

Week #11 - Results

Q 11. Our website visitors have spoken! The most important issue (of the most important issues that is) to them is Open Government! Here are some choices for how that can come about. Which do you think will be the most effective course of action in the short run? - And, which in the long run?

Week #12 - Results

Q12. We saw from last week's survey responses that both short term and long term suggestions for improving open government in Forks included a "citizens advisory committee." This is a great idea. We also saw that one individual suggested a "resident observer in meetings with developers." Another great idea for sure. Not on the list of things to select from however, was televised public meetings. This was an oversight. So what do you think... Should Forks Township meetings be televised?

Week #13 - Results
Q13. The Township is growing. Open fields are sprouting houses and offices and businesses. The CVS proposal and the developer of the business park are hoping to put in a drug store, a drive-thru fast food
restaurant and possibly a food store or strip mall near the Uhler Rd and Sullivan Trail intersection. To think about too are the proposed new interchange on Rt. 33 at Tatamy and RACINO, the proposed horse track/slot parlor in Palmer Township on the other side of Tatamy.

Rank some of these possible reasons for liking it on a scale of 1- 5 with 1 being your most important.


Rank some of these possible reasons for not liking it on a scale of 1-5 with 1 being your most important.

Thursday, December 08, 2005

A Farm Forever - Thank You Elsie Louise Brown!

At the PC meeting on 12/8/05, John Daub, nephew of Elsie Louise Brown, spoke to the ELSIE LOUISE BROWN MINOR SUBDIVISION agenda item. A 2 acre subdivision was requested for a family home. He said that another less-than-2-acre homesite will need a lot line adjustment early next year and that 4 acres (in Plainfield Township) of the farm will also be subdivided for another family home. And guess what else!

The rest of the 129.9 acre farm will go into farmland preservation forever! Yes, Ms. Brown's proposal to sell her land's development rights to Northampton County via the farmland preservation program has been accepted. This is the first for Forks.

The land is in the northern end of the Township off of Klein Road. It will remain in the family and can be farmed and even sold, but never developed.

Kudos and thank you to Elsie Louise Brown and her family.

Sunday, December 04, 2005

Kudos to the BoS

As you know, the Board voted at their meeting on November 17th to tentatively accept the proposed budget so that it could be properly advertised and made available to the public for comment for 21 days. They will vote to accept it at their meeting on December 15, 2005.

For most of us, viewing the budget at the Municipal Building is not a possibility since we are working the very same hours that the building is open. The Board took care of that for us and the budget can be found on the Township website. Kudos to our forward thinking Board and thank you.

BoS Meeting 12/1/2005

The short agenda for the December 1, 2005 did not produce a short meeting at all. Read Sarah Mausolf’s (Express Times) and Joe Nixon’s (Morning Call) newspaper reports for a good idea of what happened at the meeting. We will try to fill in the blanks.

REPORTS: SUPERVISORS, MANAGER, ENGINEER & SOLICITOR
  • Supervisor Bonnie Nicholas asked if Hornstein’s Penn’s Ridge lighting is not standard. Zoning Officer Tim Weis replied that he is not aware of that and as far as he knows, it is standard. He said that the Township does not accept them if they are not and that Gary (Sandt) goes to check them to be sure they are right.
  • Weis reported that he attended a meeting yesterday between the Lehigh County and Northampton County emergency management agencies on their Hazard Mitigation Identification effort. He said that they appear to be the only two counties working together and they are taking the lead. They are asking municipalities to participate in the program and if they don’t, the municipalities could lose out on federal funds. The program is to deal with storms, hurricanes, floods and whatever else there is. Forks is going to participate.
  • DPW Director Gary Sandt reported that they are behind in leaf collection but that people shouldn’t worry, they will get there.
  • Finance Manager Jim Farley noted that the paid auditors are due in this week to look at the preliminary numbers in preparation for the year end close.

COMMENTS FROM THE FLOOR (NOT AGENDA ITEMS) - Supervisor Elect C. David Howell announced that the Northampton County Voter Registration Office certified the election today. He thanked all the members of the Board and Staff who he had spoken with during the campaign. He said that each of them had treated him with respect and courtesy and that it has helped him to understand Forks Township government better. He added that he looks forward to working with them.

UNFINISHED BUSINESS

STATUS UPDATE BY ALEX GALE/MUNICIPAL COMPLEX - There were no questions of Gale on the written financial status report that he submitted to the Board. He noted that this will be his last "presented" report to the Board unless he is requested to do so in writing. Some of the items he reported on include:

  • The Municipal Building is about 1 month away from completion and two of the big holdups have been the custom ceilings which set everything else back.
  • The wood ceiling, coming from Sweden, is still on the boat. The installation time for the wood ceiling is 4-5 days and it goes over the dias in the meeting room and two other places.
  • The arced Rulon ceiling is due in 1-2 weeks. It ran late.
  • The demolition, environmental cleanup, and underground tank removal will not be problems and will probably be done in February.

Nicholas asked about the storage for the chairs and Gale said that he doesn’t want to bring them on the site yet. He said he’d pay for any storage charges if there are any.

Holmgaard noted that a blue spruce has been donated. It will go in front of the Municipal Building on the east side of the main entrance. Gale replied that a 28' one has indeed been donated and that he has only a 10 day window in which to retrieve it. He said too that the donor’s lawn will have to be repaired after the heavy equipment is on it and that in exchange the donor wants an 8' blue spruce planted in a slightly different location in his yard.

NEW BUSINESS

AWARD BID/FIRE TRUCK - Supervisor Hoff noted that 6 bid packages were sent out and only one bid was received. It was reviewed by the truck committee and it meets all the specs. The monies will come from:

  1. The Replacement Fund (from capital improvement fees) as per the agreement between the fire company and the Township = $267,678
  2. A $100,000 low interest PEMA loan
  3. And, $45,000 in the fire company agreement

This totals $412K and is more than the $392,201 bid by Pierce Mfg. Inc. Chairman Ackerman asked why there was only one bid? Hoff said he didn’t know but for each of the 4 fire company truck purchases he’s been involved in over the years, only one bid has come back. Nicholas asked how the 30% of zoning fees going to the fund was arrived at and Hoff explained that it was done in 2001 as part of the Fire Department’s Five Year Plan. Holmgaard asked if they will keep or sell the old truck, and was told that they will likely sell it. The last time, they got $5K for one and put that money back into the fund. The bid was accepted in a 5:0 vote.

AWARD BID/LED OUTDOOR MARQUEE - Also accepted in a 5:0 vote was the low bid from JHM Communications of Phillipsburg, NJ for the new electronic sign at the Zucksville Road entrance to the Community Center. Supervisor Miller said that it took the Recreation Board 8 years to put the money aside for this big ticket item. He said that 3 bids were received and all were within $500 of each other. Nicholas asked how big the sign is and was told 2'9" X 12'. She was also told that its size complies with the Zoning Ordinance. It will cost $30,939. Miller said that future plans include putting in park lights like the ones for the Municipal Complex only not as high.

AWARD BID/INFRARED HEATERS - PARKS GARAGE - Ackerman said that he was surprised that only one bid was received for this. It was from KC Mechanical Services in the amount of $17,910. Township Manager Cathy Kichline said that the bid is lower than the two original proposals received by Sandt and Kleppinger. The contract was awarded in a 5:0 vote.

LIAISON STRUCTURE - Nicholas said that the reason she wants to redo the liaison structure is because there is no Sewer Department. Her list included: (1) The Secretary/Treasurer (who would be in charge of the office and zoning staff), (2) Public works liaison, (3) Police liaison, (4) Recreation liaison, and (5) Fire liaison. Ackerman said that it’s a good idea, giving everyone a department. Hoff asked Nicholas what she meant be giving the employees more direction. Nicholas said that new job descriptions are needed because the jobs in the office are changing and in order to do reviews, the descriptions should fit the jobs.

Holmgaard asked if she was dismissing Howell’s proposal (click here to read Howell’s proposal to the Board) out of hand. Nicholas said that she was simply introducing her plan. Holmgaard said that Howell’s plan makes sense since it includes two Supervisors on each committee with them rotating through every two years. He added that it is not the job of the Supervisors to get involved in the day to day operation of the Township but it was their job to set the policy and to make sure that it is carried out. Ackerman said that there is no difference between what Mr. Howell gave them than what they’ve been doing. Hoff said that he’s been "fire commissioner" for 10 years and couldn’t put out a fire any better now than when he started and that what has happened in the past is that you get in that position and just stay there. He said that rotating through has been talked about in the past and what’s a bit different about Mr. Howell’s plan is that someone will always be serving a second year when a new Supervisor comes on so that there is continuity.

Hoff then asked Ackerman if Mr. Howell could be allowed to speak to his plan. Ackerman asked Howell if he worked with Kichline to prepare this. Howell explained that Kichline did her own independent and different plan and that she could present hers as well.

Howell explained that the Township is faced with a decision to maintain a decades old liaison structure or move to permanent standing committees of the Board. He feels that his proposed organization structure is more able to address the more complex issues now facing the Township. He stated that this would better enable the Board to carry out its legislative, executive, policy making, and oversight functions. The committees will report directly to the Board and will be able to address tasks that are submitted directly to the them by the Board. What will result will be a flow of information and suggestions back and forth which will be a very effective tool for problem solving and policy making.

Howell described the composition and function of each of the six committees. (Please read his attached proposal for the fine points.) The committees he proposed are (1) Finance & Administration, (2) Public Safety, (3) Public Works & Facilities, (4) Parks & Recreation, (5) Economic Development, and (6) Community Relations. The new Economic Development Committee’s purpose would be to set policy and institute initiatives to increase the tax base. The other new one, the Community Relations Committee, would have only one Supervisor (appointed by the Board) on it and its mission would be to oversee the Township website, conduct surveys of residents, represent the Township at regional meetings and scope out other public meetings of interest to the Township. Howell said that we should look to our neighbors for solutions too - that we cannot solve all of our problems ourselves.

Howell said that the committee structure promotes transparency and thus, open government. He explained that the committees will deal with "macro" and not "micro" issues. He also explained that the committees are not designed by departments but by functions.

When questioned by Nicholas about the number of meetings required since in the Howell plan each Supervisor would serve on two committees, Howell replied that the committees would meet "as needed." Nicholas also remarked that there would be overtime involved if the employees must meet after hours to accommodate the Supervisors’ available hours. Again, Howell stressed that the meetings will be held as needed and that the committee work will be part of the employees' jobs. He added that with two Board members on a committee, both need not be at a meeting.

Hoff said that the success of the Fire Department plan was due to the committee structure. The other committee that he is on, the Emergency Management Committee, started out with meetings every two weeks and now they only need to met every two months because problems were solved and a five-year plan was developed. From his standpoint, he said, committees are very successful and he supports the committee idea.

Holmgaard noted that with committees there are no decisions made. Everything is brought back to the full Board for decisions.

Ackerman thought this all too complicated. Nicholas said that every department should have a 5-year plan. Hoff agreed with her and said that it was a committee that developed the Fire Department 5-year plan and that a committee is needed for long-term planning. Miller said that the Board needs to discuss the "wealth of information" before them and Nicholas then suggested that the Board meet in a 6:30 PM workshop session before their next meeting on the 15th. Hoff said that his job will have him out of town that night but that he will write his thoughts down for their consideration. He said that the if the Board does not vote on it that night, there can be a special meeting before the year end.

BUDGET REVIEW (OCTOBER) - The Board had no questions regarding the October budget figures and asked Farley if he had anything to add. He replied that "We are in good shape for the shape we’re in."

EXECUTIVE SESSION - After some discussion, the Board decided that since the election results were officially certified on December 1st and because the real estate acquisition under discussion would not take place until 2006, to include Supervisor Elect C. David Howell in this night’s Executive Session.

The purpose of the Executive Session was to discuss a real estate matter. No action was taken and the meeting was adjourned.

Our objective is to relate what is experienced at Forks Township meetings for those who cannot attend. We are attempting to be as factual as we can. If we make a mistake, tell us via email or COMMENT here in the blog, and we will do our best to correct it. We are not perfect. We want to get it right.

Wednesday, November 30, 2005

Eyes Wide Shut (apologies to Stanley Kubrick)

Like many of you, this blogger was surprised to read about the CVS project detailed by Sarah Mausolf in the Express Times on 11/29/05. Commercial development is encouraged in Forks. It's a good way to increase our tax base without causing excess stress on our infrastructure and our schools.

Forks also has a Comprehensive Plan adopted a number of years ago which was intended to guide development of a real and vibrant Town Center. Industrial development does not belong in Town Center, that's where retail is encouraged. Now our Township officials are going to be put to the test since this project is not industrial but retail and includes both a drug store and a drive-through fast food restaurant at one of our already most congested intersections, Uhler Road and Sullivan Trail, in the Employment Center district.

In addition, the project will need zoning variances, one to put two buildings on one lot and the second to erect a (currently not permitted in EC) drive-through restaurant. There is no Zoning Hearing Board meeting scheduled for December at this time, at least there is none listed on the Township website, nor has one been advertised in the Express Times. As to the December Planning Commission agenda, it's way too early for that to be online.

The issue facing our Township officials is whether to disregard its master plan and allow the project because it's offered or to more rigorously defend the spirit of the Town Center design. It's a conundrum for sure. And, on top of that, according to Mausolf's article, CVS has an additional adjacent 6 acres. If this project is allowed, will CVS-Forks then expect to do more retail development there? Would that then give us a strip mall where industry and offices were intended? Economically, which would be better for Forks taxpayers?

There's so much to think about! I wonder if the Zoning Hearing Board takes the Comprehensive Plan into account when making decisions? I wonder if they will be told about the additional 6 acres? Heck, I wonder how the newspaper got this story before any of them?

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

Advertised Vacancies

This legal notice appeared in the 11/19/05 edition of the Express Times. Please get your letter of interest to the Board of Supervisors now. The deadline is 12/2/05!

Legal-Public Notices
LEGAL NOTICE FORKS TOWNSHIP Letters of interest are now being accepted by the Forks Township Board of Supervisors for the following vacancies: Two seats: Planning Commission - Terms to expire December 31, 2009 One seat: Zoning Hearing Board - Unexpired Term to expire December 31, 2007. One seat: Recreation Board - Term to expire December 31, 2010. One seat: Vacancy Board - Term to expire December 31, 2006. Interested persons should submit a letter addressed to the Township Manager by December 02, 2005 at the Forks Township Municipal Building, 1606 Sullivan Trail, Easton, PA 18040. Forks Township Board of Supervisors
Published in The Express-Times on 11/19

Sunday, November 20, 2005

BoS Meeting 11/17/05

On November 17, 2005 the Board of Supervisors tentatively passed the 2006 budget. Sarah Mausolf (Express Times) and Joe Nixon (Morning Call) wrote all about it. Please read their informative articles as they included more from interviews with the Supervisors than happened in the public meeting.

REPORTS: SUPERVISORS, MANAGER, ENGINEER & SOLICITOR
  • Chairman John Ackerman said that he received reports from every department and was pleased.
  • Supervisor Henning Holmgaard gave kudos to the Police Department for what they just went through in the accreditation process.
  • Supervisor Don Miller reported that of the three Township football teams to go on the finals, two of them made it, the midgets and the peewees. He added that sign-up for the winter sports is over and that 425 kids have signed up for basketball and 70 for wrestling. Of the 425 there are 150 who signed up for the instructional league (6-8 year olds).
  • Township Manager Cathy Kichline said that she submitted a written report to the Board and that much time is now being spent on coordinating the move into the new building.
  • Kichline also reported that there is a committee resurrecting the Two Rivers Council of Governments and that they will focus on yard waste, composting and recycling programs.
  • Kichline requested that the Board okay payment of the $3500 that it promised to the Greenway Plan development in February 2001 and never paid. Ackerman asked if it was a one time payment and when told that it was, said "okay."
  • Police Chief Greg Dorney said that the 2 day onsite assessment by the accreditation staff went well. They spent 1-1/2 days reviewing policy and ½ day riding with officers. Dorney said that they had a debriefing with him before they left. He stated that their comments were positive and he is confident that he’ll have an invitation for December 13th to be in Harrisburg to accept the department’s accreditation.
  • Fire Chief (and Zoning Officer) Tim Weis related that the fire department appreciates the new building and that it is giving them a great sense of pride.
  • DPW Director Gary Sandt said that "Public Works is still waiting for its new facility." He also said that they have been very busy and have collected 10 loads of leaves a day.
  • Finance Manager Jim Farley related that they are adding modules to the accounting system software as well as planning and preparing for the move. Supervisor Bonnie Nicholas asked why the software is still being worked on since it was supposed to have been completely implemented (the conversion) in 3 months? Kichline explained that the interim data coming on disk from the EASD is not working and that manual entries are required. Supervisor David Hoff added that the EIT will be ready in January and that the delay was agreed to. Holmgaard explained it as a problem because they didn’t start on the the 1st of the year. Ackerman asked if the extra time was costing the Township more and was told by Kichline, "Not a cent."
  • Solicitor Karl Kline reported that the Knox Avenue Senior Associates filed a tax assessment appeal for their building and that the Crivellaro sewer capacity purchase (21K/gals/day) is coming along. Williams Township is the holdup. It should be resolved by their next meeting. He also said that the citizens suing Howard Construction are withdrawing their lawsuit. Engineer Fred Hay confirmed this.

CORRESPONDENCE

Hoff said that the Board received an email from Vito Tamborrino, Planning Commission Chairman, requesting reimbursement of half of his expenses to attend a seminar in Philadelphia that his company had him attend. In the email Tamborrino said that ½ was directly related to his architectural work and ½ would benefit the Township as it had to do with planning. Nicholas objected to reimbursing him since his company sent him. Ackerman said that no bills should come for payment if the Board did not give its permission. Ackerman asked if Tamborrino turned in a report about the seminar? Hoff said that he felt that the seminar was fully paid for by his company. A resident suggested that the Board have Tamborrino come before it to explain. A motion to NOT pay was passed 5:0.

COMMENTS FROM THE FLOOR (NOT AGENDA ITEMS)

  1. Roy White from the Easton Suburban Water Authority addressed the Board in the Comments section instead of as an agenda item (his choice) about the merger between the ESWA and the City of Easton (water department). He described the history of the ESWA as being created by the City of Easton in 1958 and incorporated in the State as a non-profit entity. The ESWA serves 21,000 customers and 8 municipalities. Its board of directors (9 members) is chosen by the Easton mayor, voted on by council, and under state law must be comprised of a majority (5) of Easton residents. The ESWA began talking to Easton about the merger in order to fulfill its mission statement to provide the best quality water to their customers. In 1988 the ESWA started taking over the facilities that serve its customers. He added that the water treatment plant is in need of $17-20 million in capital improvements and under the current agreement (from 1958), the ESWA would be responsible of 80% of it (since their customers use 80% of it). This would mean that the Authority would have to come up with $16 million for the improvements and have no control over the operation and maintenance of it. About three years ago the Authority and the City of Easton entered into a memorandum of understanding in which the Authority became the controlling interest in managing the project. The Authority then approached the City to take over the operation of the water treatment plant. The ESWA, as a concession to the city, agreed to take over distribution with the condition that they take some of the city’s employees. The Authority will no longer have to pay a water bill to the City and will be the one taking the initiative to get the financing. Holmgaard commented that there are reports of water bills never paid. White said that they amount to $175K. Ackerman asked when the deal will be finalized? White replied that the city hopes to have it done in the next couple of months. There was discussion of a PennVest low interest loan as the source of funds for the capital improvements. PennVest requires that the applicant be the owner or the operator. Kline asked if the ownership of the plant was going to be turned over to the Authority or if the City would remain the owner. White said that the City will retain ownership and the Authority will have a very tight lease agreement for 25 years, the same term as the loans. By becoming the operator of the entire system, a "water district" will be created and the City rates and the local rates will be maintained. The rates of course, will increase to pay the debt.
  2. Resident Richard Couch proposed reinstating Forks Township Day as a way for non-profit groups like the Boy Scouts, churches, & Kiwanis to raise money. Nicholas said that he ran similar events like this where he lived before (Allamuchy Day in Allamuchy, NJ) and would be happy to run one for Forks. Ackerman asked that he make up a plan and present it to the Board. Miller remarked that it’s a lot of work.
  3. Resident Ken Nagy expressed his thanks to Mr. White (ESWA) for coming to the meeting. He remarked that the ESWA will be leasing the equipment from the City of Easton. He said that the City was told by the courts recently that it can’t take its water funds and put them into the general fund. Nagy said that this does exactly that and that the potential for litigation is there. He said that to break even $175/yr will be needed from each Easton water user. Nagy mentioned the existing pension and health plans and said that they were underfunded. He then asked White if the 20 employees will be coming over as union employees and White said no and added that the Authority does not have a union. Nagy expressed his opinion that the townships are being raped by the cities and boroughs. He would like to see more restrictions on this plan before it goes further to insure that "we have a little control over what’s going on and that we have some ownership in the facilities." Holmgaard asked if a copy of the agreement will be shown to the municipalities? White said that it will be public record. Ackerman stated that the authority should have no restrictions on who the directors are. White explained that the City of Easton is the incorporating entity and by law, that is the way it must be done. Kline noted that the water authority is apolitical.

UNFINISHED BUSINESS

STATUS UPDATE BY ALEX GALE/MUNICIPAL COMPLEX - Gale reported first on the site work. He told of a mystery at the front entrance since the new traffic light was moved, the internal controller for it has vanished. He will be in "hot pursuit" of this (which he just learned about today.) Some of the other items he discussed include the following:

  • There were rumors today that the roofer may "walk." A new roofer will have to accept a warrantee on the existing roof.
  • The generator is to arrive early next week.
  • The Municipal Building roof still has leaks below the skylight and the flashing must be examined.
  • L&I (Labor & Industry) made a preliminary assessment yesterday and found nothing major.

Nicholas asked about the leaking roof affecting the stuff put inside and Gale said he was the last person who would do that. Jim Wideman (Planning Commission) asked if the Township has a performance bond on the roofer and Gale said yes and that he is withholding $236K from the general contractor.

GOLLUB PARK - The motion to go ahead with the plan as shown was approved 5:0. Before the vote Hay discussed a map with pink and blue highlighting to show the location of the old trolley line and the proposed new walking path. Holmgaard asked if all the easements have been obtained and was told by Kline that the easements could not be obtained until the Township knows what it was going to do. Kline explained that plats must be prepared for recorded easements. Hay said that the proposed walking path should be kept natural and will have a minimum cost to the Township.

Wideman asked how Metropolitan Edison and Mr. Rossi will be able to get back to their property? He was told that the 30' right-of-way still exists. Nicholas asked if the Township will be maintaining the blue part over the trolley bed? Hay said that vehicles will only be using it 3 or 4 times a year. Rossi asked if the easement will be a general easement or if it is specific to Rossi and MetEd. He also asked if the easements are granted will the Township vacate the right-of-way and was told that the right-of-way will continue to exist. Kline stated that all the private owners have private rights over the paper street. He said that the easement with Mr. Arcury allows access to Township vehicles for emergency access only and it is not for the general public.

NEW BUSINESS

EAJSA/VACANT SEAT (2006-2009) - Ackerman noted that two candidates were interviewed for this vacancy. Nicholas made a motion to appoint Henning Holmgaard. It was passed in a 4:0 vote.

ORDINANCE NO. 294/PARKING ALONG PORTIONS OF OLD MILL ROAD - Kline stated that this ordinance was properly advertised and that it creates a no-parking area on Old Mill Road from Marigold to Knox Avenue in order to create a bike lane on the north side. It was adopted in a 5:0 vote.

2006 GENERAL FUND BUDGET/FORKS TOWNSHIP EMERGENCY SQUAD - Jeff Fehr gave a copy of the Forks Township Emergency Squad’s tax return to Ackerman. He also said that they prepared an updated copy of the squad’s income and expenses for the Board’s review. He said that squad is in the process of executing an affiliating arrangement with the Cetronia Amublance Corps and that Cetronia will be doing the billing operation as well as assisting with other operational duties. He said that Cetronia is a model ambulance corps and that they have some of the most advanced technology. He noted that the Township has collected EMS tax revenues and that there is $350K in an account for emergency services. He requested that 1/3 of it be given to the emergency squad (with another third to the police department and 1/3 to the fire department). He also said that they are not in favor of the fire department’s training facility. Hoff said he was not sure where this $350K is as it is part of the general fund and the squad has a line item of $20K in next year’s budget. Nicholas asked why he was not in favor of the FD training facility. Fehr responded that it’s not that they are not in favor of the facility but that they want the money dispersed equally. Their squad’s training is extensive and a lot of it is done at the hospital so they do not need a dedicated facility. Holmgaard said that he thought the Board should look over the statements and revisit the issue at the next meeting. Ackerman asked that he return at the next meeting since the Board may have questions of him.

2006 GENERAL FUND & UTILITY FUND BUDGET/TENTATIVE ADOPTION - Kichline noted that the budget’s development has been in process for the last few months. She said too that she gave the Board a copy of the Community Action Committee of the Lehigh Valley’s budget and that it shows their $6.5 million operating budget which is allocated to various agencies throughout the LV. Holmgaard noted that the CACLV salaries and wages are lumped together and that the questions were still not answered.

Kichline reminded the Board that if they table this it will require a special meeting at year end to adopt the 2006 budget since the 21 day advertising and display requirement would take them past their last scheduled meeting date of the year. Hoff said that it can be "tentatively" adopted and some "limited" changes can still be made. Nicholas noted that this means that her objection to the 4% raises for everyone can not be changed after the tentative adoption. Kichline said that she included performance reviews in the Board’s packets.

The Board voted to tentatively adopt the 2006 budget so that it can be properly advertised in a 4:1 vote with Nicholas voting "nay."

BOARD OPENINGS/AUTHORIZATION TO ADVERTISE - Kichline announced that there are terms expiring on the Planning Commission, the Recreation Board, the Vacancy Board and that Howell’s election win leaves an unfilled term on the Zoning Hearing Board. After a resident asked why they are doing this so late, Kichline was given permission to advertise the vacancies.

An EXECUTIVE SESSION was held to discuss a personnel matter and a real estate matter. No action was taken and the meeting was adjourned.

Our objective is to relate what is experienced at Forks Township meetings for those who cannot attend. We are attempting to be as factual as we can. If we make a mistake, tell us via email or COMMENT here in the blog, and we will do our best to correct it. We are not perfect.

Saturday, November 12, 2005

Wait! There's More!

Now that the election is over, there are more things you can do for your township. David Howell's new position as Forks Supervisor leaves a void on the Zoning Hearing Board. His term was due to expire December 31, 2007. If you are interested, please send a letter of interest to the Supervisors. We suggest sending a copy to EACH of the Board members so that it doesn't get lost or forgotten. They must appoint someone for the January term in December.

Also, there are two terms expiring on the Planning Commission on December 31st. Again, send a letter of interest to the Board (copies to each of them please) and cross your fingers. The new terms start at the beginning of January 2006 and must be filled by the last BoS meeting in December (the 15th).

Most of our Supervisors home addresses are in the phone book or, if you prefer, the Municipal Building address is 1606 Sullivan Trail, Easton, PA 18040.

Don't procrastinate. Step up and be part of the solution! They need to hear from you now.

Tuesday, November 08, 2005

Howell Won!


Thank you to each and every one of you who came out to vote today. Wow!

We are so excited! YOU made this happen. We are so proud of you all.


(For a larger image, just click once on the graphic.)


VOTE TODAY!

Be part of the solution.

Sunday, November 06, 2005

To All Of Us - A Letter From David Howell

C. David Howell, F.A.C.'s endorsed candidate for Supervisor has written a letter to all Forks residents. It is posted on the F.A.C. website. Please don't miss it.

BoS Meeting 11/3/05

The November 3, 2005 Board of Supervisors regular meeting was preceded by a 6:30 PM budget workshop and, at 7:15 PM, by candidate interviews for Forks’ open slot on the Easton Area Joint Sewer Authority.

The BUDGET SESSION focused on three main topics:
  1. Whether or not to contribute $5600 to the Community Action Committee of the Lehigh Valley, the group that runs shelters in Easton (Safe Harbor), Allentown, and Bethlehem - The Township has not contributed since 2001. (In 2001, the group was promised that contributions would be an annual budget line item.) A resident noted that the director of Safe Harbor gets a salary of between $50K-$100K. Chairman John Ackerman weighed in against the contribution stating that he felt that the money should stay in the Township since the Township does not benefit from the shelters. Supervisor Henning Holmgaard said that he is for it but would like to see the CACLV budget first.
  2. Wage increases for salaried Township employees - It was decided after discussion to give the salaried workers the same 4% raises that the collective bargaining unit got. Supervisor Bonnie Nicholas thought that raises should be granted based on evaluation criteria and she objected to a 4% across-the-board-increase. There were no employee evaluations performed in time for budget planning. Township Manager Cathy Kichline will prepare a form and do evaluations prior to next year’s budget meetings.
  3. The police department budget - It was decided to hire another full time office and promote one to corporal so that the department will have supervisory coverage 24/7.

Please read Sarah Mausolf's Express Times (11/4/05) artical for more details. (Note: A Morning Call reporter was there but did not write up the meeting.)

Two candidates, (Supervisor) Henning Holmgaard and Carl Dicker, were interviewed for the Forks vacancy on the EAJSA. Both gentlemen have excellent qualifications for the job and both are willing to report to the Board at meetings. There is no compensation for this position.

REPORTS: SUPERVISORS, MANAGER, ENGINEER & SOLICITOR

  • Nicholas had the report of the Easton Area Joint Sewer Authority stating the sewer capacity of the businesses in the Township.
  • Holmgaard said that the Police Department is proceeding with the accreditation process. The final walk through should be on the 14th or 15th of November.
  • Supervisor Don Miller said that this weekend all three of the Township’s football teams are in semi-final playoffs. The finals will be next week. That will end the fall season and then the winter season will begin with basketball and wrestling.
  • Ackerman reported that residents of Heather Lane called after the recent heavy rain about sewers backing up into their houses. Engineer Fred Hay said that this was the first he’d heard about it.
  • Ackerman said that he’s received two calls from residents wanting to know what happened to the Township’s newsletter. There was discussion about it now being absorbed by the news section on the Township’s official website. Holmgaard said that the Township was going to print out and mail the news page to residents who have no online access (and request copies). Kichline said that she will.
  • Kichline asked that two items be added to the meeting’s agenda, heat for the new parks building and whether or not bids are needed to remove the old fuel oil tanks. Both were added.
  • Fire Chief Tim Weis said that the Fire Department’s furniture move is almost completed.

CORRESPONDENCE
Holmgaard mentioned a letter written by Solicitor Karl Kline to the EASD. There was no discussion and the letter was not read.

COMMENTS FROM THE FLOOR (NOT AGENDA ITEMS)

  1. Resident Ken Nagy raised two issues. The first was a comment that the 2006 budget was much like his in that there is "more demand than cash." And that the Community Action League’s $5K request may not pave a road but it will go far to provide some service/assistance in the Township. His other point concerned the consolidation of the Easton Water Authority and the Easton Suburban Water Authority. He asked the Board to invite them to speak to us about it and what its impact will be on Forks residents. Kichline will invite them.
  2. Dan Secorak (sic) of Newlins Road West asked the Board for help to slow down the traffic on his road. He said that the speed limit is 25 mph and that the police have been ineffective in enforcing it. He suggested speed bumps. He said that he must back out of his driveway and it’s very difficult now that the road has been resurfaced. He said that he has been living there since 1961 and will sue the Township if he gets hit. Holmgaard told him that the Township has a "zero tolerance" policy for speeders and there are no warnings given, only tickets. Ackerman said that there is nothing they can do except ask the police to "set up speed traps and what have you." Holmgaard said that all Township roads have 25 mph speed limits.

UNFINISHED BUSINESS

STATUS UPDATE BY ALEX GALE/MUNICIPAL COMPLEX - There were no questions from the Board regarding Gale’s financial report (written and not orally presented). Some of the progress items that Gale listed include:

  • The old firehouse will be demolished on Saturday and should be reduced to a pile of rubble by Monday.
  • Schoor DiPalma’s recommended HVAC revisions to fix their mistake are being undertaken by the mechanical contractor. If it doesn’t work, they will have to go back to the drawing board. Nicholas asked if the engineer will be back-charged. Gale said that there are quite a few items that have to be looked at to see what can be recouped from the engineer. He said that it’s a sizable number and that he can indicate those that added additional costs to the project and are directly attributable to the lack of good engineering.
  • The Police Department will get a bike rack pad.
  • The reworking of the landscaping at the PD will be done in the spring and the contractor knows that it is his responsibility.
  • The paneling for the Municipal Building is two weeks away.
  • Because local contractors have been unable to bend the aluminum arches for the Municipal Building main lobby windows without breaking them, a California company is doing it. They should be here in another week. Nicholas asked how much extra this will cost and Gale said there will be no extra cost.
  • The second Board of Supervisors meeting in December (the 15th) will be held in the new meeting room.
  • The new fuel system is ready for use but the paperwork is not yet complete. They are awaiting a visit from L&I.

Nicholas noted that the project schedule now extends from December to May. Gale said that the project has phases and that taking down the old building (phase 3) was not in the original schedule. She noted that the budget for one part of the project is at 92% and the other is a 76%. Gale said, "We’re right there." Nicholas remarked, "You got it. You spend it."

GOLLUB PARK - At Holmgaard’s suggestion, this item was tabled until all the easements needed are in hand. The discussion began with Hay’s report that he was at the park site with Mr. Arcury who said that he would consider granting access for emergency and maintenance vehicles over the old trolley line on his property. This would be a "limited easement." Hay said that with this easement only a 4' wide footpath would be needed for people walking to the park and that the path could meander and not involve cutting trees.

Kline explained that in the past Arcury was willing to give a "license" to the Township for emergency/maintenance access but that a "license" could be cancelled. Now Arcury is offering a limited easement. Kline further said that a limited agreement from the Krauses would also be necessary. Kenneth Krause said that he will also give an easement for the path (over a corner of his property.)

Pete Rossi said that the hoped the Board and Arcury would come up with a solution or he WILL be taking down trees and putting in a wide roadway. He said that if a footpath goes in, he will have to do just that. He also said that there is a little sliver of land up there that could solve the whole problem if they got an easement from Met-Ed and filled it with a truckload of dirt so that they could get down to the paper road, Valley View. He could then put in his own driveway without taking down trees.

NEW BUSINESS

COUNTRYSIDE ESTATES SUBDIVISION, PHASE 2/DEVELOPER’S AGREEMENTS - Kline stated that all was in order for this Pannucio development. Passed in a 4:0 vote.

RESOLUTION 051103-1/USE OF LOT #41/FORKS FARM - Kline explained this as a 40 year old issue that now needs to be resolved. The development was laid out in the 1960s for single family detached houses and there was a disagreement between the Supervisors and the developer about a barn that was to be torn down after three years of use as an office. The developer recently went to sell the lot with the barn and the title searcher found this old agreement saying that the barn was to have been torn down. This resolution will waive the requirement that the that the barn be demolished and subject any improvements made to it to the current SALDO and Zoning Ordinance. Miller asked about anything requiring maintenance of the barn. The resolution was approved in a 5:0 vote.

FORT JAMES III - RR CROSSING & EAST/WEST EXTENSION OF BRADEN BOULEVARD - Ackerman "excused" himself from discussion since 19 acres of the land involved is his. J.G. Petrucci, developer for this proposed industrial park (124 acres north of Fort James and extending to Uhler Road) asked the Board to petition the P.U.C. to get a grade crossing over the railroad tracks so that Braden Boulevard can be extended through the site. He said that the Board's help is crucial as there is no public agreement with Norfolk Southern to allow a crossing. Norfolk Southern told the developer that their policy is to NOT grant such an agreement unless two other crossings (in the Township) are vacated. Kline said that it is appropriate for the Township to help.

The developer indicated that he will provide a link to an area reserved for a right-of-way which is part of the Modern Concrete project and goes through a residential lot to Glover Road. Nicholas suggested that the developer get a right-of-way agreement from the Yautz Farm (at the lower end of their property) or from the residential lot now. Ackerman said that he has another road alignment possibility and does not want the developer to bind themselves at this time. He did not want to discuss it yet. The Board agreed to petition the P.U.C. in a 4:0 (?) vote.

PURCHASE OF SEWER CAPACITY - CRIVELLARO - Kline explained that the sewage treatment plant allots usage capacity to municipalities. Some time ago, the Crivellaro family bought some of Easton’s unusable capacity (Easton had more than it could use given that it is "built out"). Crivellaro took what he needed and is now trying to sell his extra capacity. The EAJSA restricted Crivellaro to sell his excess capacity only to Williams Township where the Crivellaro farm is located. Williams Township is not part of the EAJSA and was told by the EAJSA that it could buy the capacity and sell it to any other municipality within the EAJSA. Williams Township is willing to buy it from Crivellaro, keep the 9K/gals/day that they need, and sell the remaining 21K/gals/day to Forks Township at $6.80/gal. The purchase was authorized in a 5:0 vote.

FIRE DEPARTMENT/FIVE YEAR PLAN - Supervisor David Hoff (liaison to the Fire Department) recommended that this be adopted. Ackerman asked about the funding for the tower and Hoff said that they are counting on the EMS Tax for the five year plan and for the tower itself, the fire company volunteers are willing to commit $175K (50%). Hoff thanked all the people who put time into preparing the 5 year plan. The plan was passed in a 5:0 vote.

BUDGET ADJUSTMENT: $393,000. FROM CARRYOVER TO 436.300 STORMWATER IMPROVEMENTS - This adjustment was necessary because the Frost Hollow Swale improvement bids came to $790K and there was not enough in the capital improvements fund. It passed 5:0.

SIGN MACHINE - Ackerman suggested holding this purchase over until next year even though it is in this year’s budget ($20K). Holmgaard said that many of the Township signs (those abutting State roads) are not in compliance. Kichline said that there is no place to keep the machine at this time. Ackerman changed his mind after it was pointed out to him that the machine will get more expensive if they wait to buy it. The purchase was authorized in a 5:0 vote.

ORDINANCE NO. 294/NO PARKING ALONG PORTIONS OF OLD MILL ROAD (AUTHORIZATION TO ADVERTISE) - The authorization to advertise this ordinance was granted in a 5:0 vote. It will establish "no parking" and create a bike lane on the north side of Old Mill Road from Knox Avenue to Marigold Drive. This was done to avoid the construction of a sidewalk for the residents of Lockwood Congress.

BUDGET REVIEW/SEPTEMBER - Finance Manager Jim Farley said that the main over-budget items can be explained. He stated that there was additional audit work in 2005, that the price of fuel is up, and that the Township chose to fill the new tanks. Nicholas asked about the unemployment compensation over budget item and was told by Kichline that one person will be coming off unemployment in 2006 and that it’s a "guessing game" since they don’t know in advance if someone will be laid off.

PARKS GARAGE HEATING - Kichline explained that the proposals are higher than expected and therefore heating the new parks garage needs to go out to bid. She has the advertizement prepared. This was authorized in a 5:0 vote.

TANK REMOVAL - Centerpoint Tank’s proposal to remove the old fuel storage tanks came in at $10,495. Ackerman reminded the Board that if there is any contamination in the tank, cleaning it is not included in the proposal. It was decided in 5:0 vote to add the tank removal to Centerpoint’s existing contract. They will be asked to reduce the price by $496.

An EXECUTIVE SESSION was held to discuss several personnel matters and one real estate matter. No action was taken and the meeting was adjourned.

Our objective is to relate what is experienced at Forks Township meetings for those who cannot attend. We are attempting to be as factual as we can. If we make a mistake, tell us via email or COMMENT here in the blog, and we will do our best to correct it. We are not perfect.

Saturday, November 05, 2005

Signs Signs Everywhere A Sign... NOT!



They just keep taking and taking and taking... This latest rash of sign thefts occurred last night. And this victim is fighting back with their own homemade sign. Kudos!

Even the Express Times has condemned this loathsome action. See the Express Times Editorial from October 29th. The sign thieves were awarded a TURKEY!

Sunday, October 23, 2005

BoS Meeting 10/20/05

The October 20th Board of Supervisors meeting was lengthy but not filled with developers' projects as the agendas normally are. Both Sarah Mausolf (Express Times) and Fred Walter (Morning Call) were there. The meeting was preceded by a FIRE DEPARTMENT/5 YEAR PLAN: QUESTIONS & ANSWER WORKSHOP and by a Conditional Use Hearing for STRAUSSER ENTERPRISES/RIVERVIEW - PROPOSED RECREATION CENTER. Both topics were discussed later as agenda items during the regular session. Supervisor David Hoff was not in attendance.

REPORTS: SUPERVISORS, MANAGER, ENGINEER & SOLICITOR
  • Supervisor Don Miller said that the fall season at the Community Center is "finishing up" and this weekend will be the "clash of the Titans" when Forks plays Palmer. Winter sign-up is underway at the Community Center. He said too that the Recreation Board has been putting money aside for the last eight years for a sign at the Zucksville Road entrance to the park and would like to put that out for bids. They are now working on putting money aside for lights along the park entrance road (from Zucksville) to the recreation path and then down to the second parking lot.
  • Chairman John Ackerman said that he and Township Manager Kichline received a letter from Alice Bartholomew (sic) regarding the bike path near her home. They will discuss it and get back to her. He complemented DPW Director Gary Sandt on the Public Works Report and suggested that all departments use it as a model.
  • Township Manager Cathy Kichline said that she made inquiries about dog parks to other communities and put her findings together for the Board to review. She said too, that, working with Keystone (Engineering) who provided her with a number of plans, she compiled a Sewer Management Program recommendation which she put in the Board's packets. She said that "we" will be meeting with PennDot on the 27th regarding a traffic control device at Arndt and Bushkill Roads. She reminded the Board that there are a few slots left for the Township employees Halloween Blood Drive on the 28th. And, she reported that there were about 60 participants in the first Family Bike Day and that it was a great success and raised money for breast cancer awareness. She said too, that the Township received a $126K dividend from its health care provider because of the Township's employees had few claims in 2004.
  • Zoning Officer Tim Weis noted that Matt Miller spent the last few days at Kutztown University taking the final installment of planning (?) certification. (We apologize but we could not hear what Mr. Weis said about the curriculum.)
  • DPW Director Gary Sandt said that the DPW has been busy the last 2 weeks because of the storms and that they expect to begin leaf pick-ups by 10/24. Ackerman noted that the leaves are falling later this year.
  • Finance Manager Jim Farley said that he is continuing to work on the budget process.
  • Engineer Fred Hay said that he recommends a 7' wide bike path on Old Mill Road, two 13' wide travel lanes and no parking on the north side from Sullivan Trail to Marigold (to address the request made by Lockwood Congress residents for a sidewalk.) Nicholas asked how much that will cost and Hay replied that it will be a lot cheaper than sidewalks. Kline said that this will require an ordinance as parking is currently allowed on the north side. He will draft it before the 11/3/05 meeting.

CORRESPONDENCE - Supervisor Henning Holmgaard said that he had a sinkhole letter (from a resident) that was to be included in the Minutes. Ackerman said that it will be discussed next meeting as they have not had time to read it yet.

COMMENTS FROM THE FLOOR (NOT AGENDA ITEMS)

  1. Resident Bill Carter (sic) cited the EMS subscription letter that he received and asked how the Township could do business with an agency that is 3/4 of million dollars in debt. Ackerman said he appreciated his comments and that Board will talk about this when they are preparing the budget. Nicholas asked where he got the information and Carter said that it was from the subscription insert.
  2. Gretchen Gerstel stated that the Easton Suburban Water Authority is taking over the City of Easton Water Department. She requested that they be invited to address a Supervisors' meeting to explain to Forks residents the advantages and disadvantages of this arrangement. She said that she heard that the Easton Water Department is in financial difficulty and wondered why the Suburban Water Authority would want to take it over. She specifically asked, "What's it going to cost the residents of Forks?" Ackerman said that the Board will try to get them to come to the next meeting if possible.

UNFINISHED BUSINESS

STATUS UPDATE BY ALEX GALE/MUNICIPAL COMPLEX - Alex Gale's fact filled report included the following:

  • The communications conduit (for both copper and fiber optics) run is completed and will improve the reliability of communications between the new buildings.
  • UGI missed two dates to hook up the permanent gas at the Municipal Building and showed up this afternoon with a new guy. He called UGI and was assured that his data would be checked thoroughly. The site is totally prepared for them. (The woodwork is due in a week and the new Municipal Building must be heated.)
  • There have been no viable offers for a free Christmas Tree and he suggests relocating an existing blue spruce which has a double leader but which can corrected by pruning to look more like a Christmas tree. To this, Supervisor Bonnie Nicholas said that she has a nice blue spruce on her property and that it will soon be too near the overhead wires and will have to be cut down. She offered it to the Township. Gale will check it out. If it isn't suitable, Holmgaard suggested that Gale go ahead with the move of the other tree.
  • Gale was on the verge of looking for a new contractor for the network cabling between the buildings but the one under contract called today and said they would be here tomorrow.
  • In discussion of the revised schedule for the Municipal Building Gale said that the roofer has pushed the schedule back as he has only worked one week in the last 4 weeks. This is because of a payment problem with the general contractor. Apparently through a paperwork error, the GC neglected to pay the roofer. ($180K+)
  • There was water damage because of a missing skylight in the atrium area. It is being replaced.
  • There are major problems caused by the roofer on the Police Department. Two hundred square feet of the roof must be removed to find the leak there. Nicholas asked how much damage occurred inside of the PD building? She was told that only about 5 ceiling tiles were damaged. There were substantial leaks in the firehouse and all but one is fixed. Nicholas suggested that the roofer be backcharged for Gale's extra time also since the roofer is delaying the entire project.

Gale brought up the subject of his compensation and said that Kichline told him that it was discussed in Executive Session and that he was to be restricted to 40 hours per week. He said that he can "live with that" but will stay longer if he needs to whether he is paid for the extra time or not. Ackerman said that Gale must confer with Kichline if he needs to stay longer and she will report back to the Board. Nicholas added that Hoff said (in the Executive Session), "He can work 50 hours but we are only paying for 40." Gale said that going back to October 2003 he put in over 1100 hours over his estimated hours (in his proposal) in the early stages of the project. He said that the extension of the time and the additional reviews early in the project were created by the Township. The PD was completely redesigned, including a total redesign of its roof structure. He spent Thanksgiving Day last year there because the roof collapsed at the firehouse. He had thought he could now bill the Township for the extra hours. Ackerman said that his time should have been handed over to the insurance company. Gale said that it wasn't and that none of that time was paid for. Gale said that he has given a helluva lot back to the Township and he gets paid $48/hr while the electricians on the job are getting $88. He said he's the guy with all the "crap on his back."

GOLLUB PARK - Ackerman reported that he Miller went to the park. Hay stated that he and Sandt believe that they can put in an 8' wide path. Ackerman recommended taking the big tulip poplar down because putting in the path will damage the roots of the tree. He also recommended using stone on the path instead of mulch (which will rot). Hay said that the path should go on the upper side of the right-of-way. Miller suggested starting the path beyond the poplar tree. Kline suggested that one of the property owners near the park, (Krause) be asked if they will grant an easement where the trolley line is before the path goes down to the right of way.

To this, Paul Harrison (another near-park resident) said that Ken & Bonnie Krause (who could not be at the meeting) will grant an easement so that the path can go around the 80 year old poplar tree. He said that this is what the 4 homeowners who live there would prefer, minimal impact. Nicholas said that the 2 other property owners may take the trees down anyway because they still have the use of the right-of-way. Pete Rossi, one of those two other property owners near the park, addressed the Board with an "update" saying that he got the results of surveys since 2004 and that the Township has spent over $40K on park surveys (since 2004). He added that the Township is the largest landowner up there and that the park is available to the public. He thought that the Township should put the path in on the full length of the right-of-way down its center. He said that he has the right to drive on it to have access to his property. He asked that the Township not force him "to do something he doesn't want to do." (Cut the trees?)

Harrison said that he understands that the path will resemble a driveway and can support a vehicle. Hay clarified that the path will be designed for very occasional traffic and said that he is in favor of the easement. This was tabled until 11/3/05 in a 4:0 vote after Hay goes out to look at it another time.

NEW BUSINESS

COMMUNITY ACTION COMMITTEE OF THE LEHIGH VALLEY - Katherine Watt (sic), a senior planner for the CACLV described her group as the parent organization of the Lehigh Valley Coalition For Affordable Housing that every year sponsors a municipal fund appeal. This appeal functions to even out the funding for their shelters, all of which are in Allentown, Bethlehem and Easton. They are supported in part by those cites. Her group believes that the other municipalities in the LV share some responsibility to help support those shelters. She said that 25% of the people using the shelters are working people and that 45.8% of the people in those shelters in 2004 were from outside of those cites - 1137 people were from the suburban municipalities. The shelters are places where people find self-sufficiency. Watt said that Safe Harbor (in Easton) was hit very hard by the flood. She was there to ask the Township for $5663, an amount based on a formula using per capita income from the 2000 census. Forks has not contributed to the program since 2001, when it promised that they would be a budget line item every year. Ackerman asked how many Forks residents have used the shelters and was told 10 in 2004. The Board will discuss this at its budget meetings.

CONDITIONAL USE/RIVERVIEW - PROPOSED RECREATION CENTER - Conditional Use was granted in a 4:0 vote with the Keystone Engineering review letter included. Hay added that the Township is also asking for a snow easement on the cul de sac. This private recreation center will be owned by the Riverview Homeowners Association.

RESOLUTION 051020-1/AMENDMENT TO SECTION 457 DEFERRED COMPENSATION PLAN - Kline explained that the Township's insurer (since 1973), Variable Annuity Life Insurance Company (VALIC) prepared a new plan to be in compliance with the changes in the Federal pension regulations. The resolution was adopted 4:0.

RIVERVIEW ESTATES, PHASE 1/COMPLETION OF IMPROVEMENTS - Kline said that he sent a letter to the Board regarding Phase I as much of the work is still not done. The people who live there are complaining. It has been nearly a year since the last house was sold there. The Board voted 4:0 to give Strausser until the end of November to finish the project or the Township will use Strausser's letter of credit and finish it for him. Hay suggested that the letter of credit financial institution be notified.

APPOINTMENT OF FORKS TOWNSHIP EAJSA REPRESENTATIVE - Forks needs to replace its representative on the Easton Area Joint Sewer Authority. Ackerman said that he thinks the representative should be a Supervisor. Holmgaard has volunteered and Kichline noted that a resident, Carl Decker (sic) has also sent in a letter of interest. The terms are 5 years and this unexpired term ends in 2009. There is no pay. It was decided that the appointee need not be a Board member but that he/she must be a Forks resident and must report back to the Board. Kline stressed a strong advocate for Forks is absolutely critical. The Board will interview Decker and make a decision.

SINKHOLE/ROW EASEMENTS - Ackerman put this item on the agenda because of problems with sinkholes in right-of-ways. Hay said that every lot (per ordinance) has a 10' perimeter easement, it's a general blanket utility easement. He said that the issue that has come up is that people have been putting things in the swales along common property lines. Kline explained that the Stormwater Management Ordinance prohibits structures or obstructions in stormwater easements. A covenant, required in all subdivision plans, states that if there are obstructions (like a fence) the Township can remove it at the owner's expense plus 20%. Kline said that "inlets" may be used in the future so that water flows underground.

Resident Brad Wells (sic), the author of the letter that Holmgaard brought up during the CORRESPONDENCE section of the meeting, said that a neighbor's fence post caused a sinkhole and that other neighbors have sheds and play sets in the swale. Wells asks who is responsible? The Township approved the fence. Holmgaard says that the property owner is responsible. Wells says that when people get construction permits, they must be closed out with an inspection.

Wells also asked that public use of the Township recreation center and fees be added to the next meeting's agenda. He said that he objects to paying $11 for a half hour of "shooting hoops" with his daughters. He said that the outside public court is poorly maintained. Miller said that Wells facts on the fees are all wrong. Miller defended the recreation fees as "user fees" recommended by the State. Wells said that he is a taxpayer and Forks resident and feels that he should not have to pay to use the facility. He said that he cannot afford the fees. Miller said, "I don't know how can you afford to live in Forks then." Wells said that when he came here he had a good job. He no longer does. Ackerman told him that he can sign up for COMMENTS FROM THE FLOOR next time and he'll get five minutes to talk.

LIAISON RE-ASSIGNMENTS - Nicholas said that because there is no longer a sewer department, the liaison assignments should be changed and that it should be straightened out before the first of the year. Kichline discussed a proposal for five committees. She felt that there would be more communication between herself, the Board and the staff. Ackerman said that he does not want more jobs. He said that there are five areas: the Police Department, the Fire Department, Parks & Recreation, Finance, and the Public Works Department. Weis added that he talked to Chief Dorney about this and he thought it a good idea that Emergency Services and Public Safety be included together.

Holmgaard thought that committees are a good idea. Ackerman said he didn't think that Supervisors should limit themselves to be involved in only one area if they are interested in more than one area. Nicholas said that with departments meetings once a week and the two Supervisors meetings, there isn't time enough for a working Supervisor (and parent) to do it all.

Holmgaard remarked that the Township is now at a point where it's "too big and not big enough." Nicholas said that things should stay with the "chains of command" that have been established for another year and that right now Hoff has two areas, the Fire Department and Secretary/Treasurer (including the office.) She simply feels that he should have only one area of responsibility.

Miller felt that the Board needs to think about this and that a decision need not be made by next meeting. He said that there is an election coming up and the winner will bring to the Board other interests and a "life style of knowledge with him." Miller does not want to make any decision until after the election. Nicholas said that they have to have everybody ready to appoint at the first meeting in January. This will be discussed again.

APPOINTMENT OF PUBLIC WORKS DIRECTOR (End of probationary period) - Sandt's appointment was approved in a 4:0 vote. Nicholas asked if they must now advertise for a mechanic. Ackerman said that it would be taken up in the Executive Session since it is a personnel matter.

AUTHORIZATION TO BID GASOLINE & DIESEL - Kichline said that she has the advertisement ready and the authorization was approved 4:0.

REQUEST TO ADVERTISE BID FOR NEW FIRE ENGINE - Weis discussed this in the question and answer workshop before the meeting. This request is for a new pumper since the Township's existing one is 1983 vintage. The new one will have a 1500 gal/min capacity and will seat 6 fire fighters inside the cab. The department has 80% of the funding for this between the their vehicle replacement fund and a 2% loan. It will be almost fully paid for by the time it arrives and will involve zero tax dollars. Bids are due by the end of November. The request was approved in a 4:0 vote.

EXECUTIVE SESSION - No action was taken by the Board during the Executive Session (to discuss several personnel matters.) After the session the Board voted 4:0 to hire Ron Phillips as the Township's newest full time employee. He has been a part-time mechanic for the Township since Gary Sandt was promoted to the Director of Public Works.

Our objective is to relate what is experienced at Forks Township meetings for those who cannot attend. We are attempting to be as factual as we can. If we make a mistake, tell us via email or COMMENT here in the blog, and we will do our best to correct it. We are not perfect. We want to get it right.



Sunday, October 09, 2005

BoS Meeting 10/6/2005

Both Sarah Mausolf (Express Times 10/7/05) and Joe Nixon (Morning Call 10/7/05) reported extensively on the 6:30 PM presentation of the Fire Department’s Five Year Plan. Please read the articles for the details. The presentation was done by Deputy Fire Chief Bryan Weis and was thorough and direct. Our Fire Department is indeed planning for the future. Kudos and thank you.

REPORTS: SUPERVISORS, MANAGER, ENGINEER & SOLICITOR
  • Supervisor David Hoff (and liaison to the Fire Department) thanked Deputy Fire Chief Bryan Weis for the presentation at the workshop (and everyone else for their participation.)
  • Supervisor Bonnie Nicholas suggested a bicycle lane instead of a sidewalk for Old Mill Road (and the Lockwood Congress residents’ request.) She thought that the road is wide there and that it (the bicycle lane) would be cheaper than a sidewalk. Engineer Fred Hay said that it could be crosshatched (painted diagonal lines) all the way to Towne Center Boulevard.
  • Nicholas also said that she was at the Manager’s Meeting and that Police Chief Dorney wants all the men to use their card keys for fuel. She feels that all the employees who are going to use the fuel should have his/her own card key and not have a group share one key. Township Manager Cathy Kichline said that it cannot be done until all three buildings are completed.
  • Nicholas requested that "Re-organization/liaison" be added to next meeting’s agenda.
  • Chairman John Ackerman asked if the Township has a contractor to service the air conditioning system in the new building. Kichline said that the Township will have to accept proposals. Ackerman further asked if the Township is going out for bids on gas and oil and was told by Kichline that she and DPW Director Gary Sandt are working on it. He asked if anything was done about a four-way stop at Arndt Road yet and was told that it was part of Kichline’s report. He asked, too, that Jeff Laura (sic) (ambulance?) be added to the next meeting agenda. Kichline said that it would be more appropriate for the October 18 budget workshop and he was advised of that by letter (although he has not yet received the letter.) (Aside: The Express Times printed a legal notice stating that there will be two budget workshops, one on October 17th at 4:30 PM and one on October 18th at 4:30 PM).
  • Ackerman also asked how quiet the dust collectors at Old Castle are and Hay told him that their operating permit must be renewed every year. Next he asked about Tax Collector June Vale’s memo regarding political sign permit fees. She wondered why Forks is the only municipality in the State collecting such a fee. Solicitor Karl Kline explained that the issue is one of "free speech" and that the fees are returned to the candidates after the election (providing they have removed all of their signs within 7 days after the election.) Zoning Officer Tim Weis said that only one candidate did not get his money back because he did not pick up his signs and the Township had to collect them. Ackerman was also told, when he asked, that permit fees are collected from County Council candidates.
  • Kichline reported that she had a conversation with PennDot regarding the Bushkill Drive and Arndt Road intersection. A letter was requested (by PennDot). A meeting will be set up to discuss the intersection and why Forks wants traffic control there. She said too that the Memorial Tree drive is going well. And, she reminded the Board that the Halloween Employee Blood Drive is scheduled for October 28th and that there will be a Conditional Use Hearing for Strausser Enterprises Recreation Center before the next Board meeting on October 20th (at 7 PM). She also said that Hay’s office has compiled a package on on-lot sewer management. It will be available to the Board with recommendations at the next meeting.
  • Dorney updated the Board regarding the police department’s accreditation process. The first of the final phase will be on Monday, October 10th. He thanked Public Works Director Gary Sandt, Alex Gale, Pete Gheller, Kichline and others for their help. If all goes well, by Thanksgiving, Forks Police Department will be the first and only accredited agency in Northampton County.
  • Finance Manager Jim Farley said that he is working on coordination of the budget process and the new software.
  • Hay reported that the Frost Hollow swale project is close to completion. And, he mentioned that Brachilano (sic) Paving will be working on the Suburban Water Company trenches soon.

During the DEBITS AND TRANSFERS portion of the meeting we learned that Recreation Land Acquisition is funded by developer fees.

COMMENTS FROM THE FLOOR (NOT AGENDA ITEMS):

  1. Resident Joan Schultz (sic), a retired EAHS teacher and 42 year Township resident said that 6 years ago she requested a trash collection rate reduction (because she is only here six months of the year) and got it. Her new bill did not reflect her discount so she called the Municipal Building and was told she had to speak to Kichline but that she was not there. So she wrote to Kichline about it but got no answer. She came tonight because her issue is on the agenda. (See REFUSE PAYMENT POLICY agenda item for more.)
  2. Two residents from Chestnut Commons Association, Ruthie (didn’t catch the last name) and Arky de Stephano (apologies for the spelling) brought their swale stormwater problems to the Board’s attention. They showed photographs and said that the swale has deteriorated in the last year or two because of the additional runoff (from new houses) and new huge stones. Ackerman asked that Hay look into it.

UNFINISHED BUSINESS

STATUS UPDATE BY ALEX GALE/MUNICIPAL COMPLEX - There were no questions for Gale regarding the projects finances. Nicholas asked if the schedule was the same as last time and was told that it was very close and that he will know better by the end of this month.

Some of the things that Gale reported include:

  • Schoor DiPalma feels that the Township’s numbers are incorrect and that they have given him other numbers. Gale feels that he may end up getting Kline involved.
  • The site contractor made a "sad attempt" to fix the landscaping and Gale recommends killing what’s there and regrading at the contractor’s expense.
  • The large trees (60%) are to be spring plantings and Gale will stake everything out this fall.
  • The communication network cabling contractor is behind and may need to be changed.
  • The Simplex fire and security connections were completed today (dedicated phone lines with the County). Employee training is not yet done.
  • The contractor for the underground cabling is 1-1/2 weeks behind and no more interim cabling can be done until the network cabling is in. Gale is asking Verizon for thoughts on an interim solution.
  • The move to the new firehouse "went okay" and the fin tube heating covers will be in by the end of work on Friday.

NEW BUSINESS

LAFAYETTE MEADOWS/ADDITIONAL STREET LIGHTS - Accepted in a 5:0 vote after Solicitor Karl Kline explained that it is a standard resolution from Met-Ed for the activation of street lights and Kichline said that all was in order.

RESOLUTION 051006-1 BUSHKILL RIDGE ESTATES/ACCEPTANCE OF STREETS - Accepted in a 5:0 vote after Hay said that all was in order.

RESOLUTION 051006-2 STEEPLECHASE SUBDIVISION/DEED OF DEDICATION FOR STREETS IN PHASES 1 & 2 - Accepted in a 5:0 vote after Kline stated that all was in order and Hay said that he had inspected them.

GOLLUB PARK - After lengthy discussion and input from residents near the park, the vote was rescheduled to the next meeting on October 20th. Hay explained that he had finished the survey of the park. It is located at the very eastern end of Paxinosa Road. He said that there was a meeting on Monday with the property owners about how to continue public access to Gollub Park. Hay’s office staked out the center line of the right-of-way and think that an 8' rec. path can be put in to get to the park.

Kline explained that at the turn of the century people who owned property just laid out roads and lots without regard to topography. He said that there were two roads laid out (and if a road is not opened within 21 years after it is laid out on a plan, it cannot be opened as a public road.) The lot owners have the private rights of access over that "paper" street. There used to be a trolley line to the "point" but it did not follow the road and over time, people thought that that was the road. However, the old trolley line goes over private property. He said that another road was put in but it missed the right-of-way road.

Nicholas said that she was back there and asked if an 8' wide path would be acceptable and was surprised to learn that the Township was not responsible to make a road for the residents to get to their property. She further wondered if the Township path was going to be used by the residents to get to their property (if the path goes down the middle of the right-of-way.) Hay clarified that the path will be of mulch or stone and can run down the side of the right-of-way. When she asked if the Township could give the property owners a gravel path to get back there. Hay said that "if you want to build a road, you build a road. If you want to build a rec. path, you build a rec. path." He recommended that the Township not be involved in the liability of providing vehicle access (a public thoroughfare) to private property and said that no one else in the Township has access provided by the Township.

One of the property owners, Pete Rossi (Zoning Hearing Board), said that if the mulch path is kept to the south of the 30' right-of-way, that the mature trees that are in the right-of-way will come down (be cut) in order that he get access to his lot. He needs a 10' lane to his property. Kline explained that there should be a separation between where people are walking and where cars may be moving. Paul Harrison, a resident near the park, said that there isn’t much traffic and that people are already walking on their "driveway" now to get to the park. Another resident asked that the Township mark the path so that people going to the park are not using private property to get there. Ackerman asked to continue this to the next meeting to give other Board members time to go back there to see the site. Nicholas asked who is going to move the pole that is in the middle of the right-of-way?

RIVERVIEW WEST/FORKS TOWNSHIP RAILROAD LAND SWAP AGREEMENT - Kline explained that this is a land exchange between the developer and Forks Township. He said that in 1988 Forks bought the old railroad bed and that part of it is already a walking trail. Riverview Estates was required to build a recreation path that "honors the land that Forks has in that area." Riverview West asked when they presented their plan, if they could rearrange it to give the Township what it wants, a rec. path. The Township agreed as long as the path connects at both ends. Supervisor Miller questioned whether it connected and was assured that it does. The land swap agreement was accepted in a 5:0 vote.

FORKS TOWNSHIP YOUTH ATHLETIC ASSOCIATION AGREEMENT - Accepted with a 5:0 vote and no discussion.

REFUSE PAYMENT POLICY - A motion to not give any discounts to anyone was passed in a 5:0 vote. Kichline explained that the "conversion to Utility" caused this to be an issue because up until then, 12 accounts were given credits but that there was no written policy. She asked if the Board wanted to continue doing this. Supervisor Henning Holmgaard asked if the Township paid for waste pick-up on a per lot basis and was told that it does. Ackerman said that if some people don’t pay for the full year, then the rest of the taxpayers pick up the tab for them. Hoff said that no other senior citizens groups who asked were granted discounts. Miller said that the refuse collection companies who submitted bids were asked about senior discounts and none of them agreed to do it.

AUTHORIZATION TO PURCHASE VACUUM LEAF LOADER THROUGH PACC - This budgeted item purchase was approved in a 5:0 vote. Ackerman passed around flyers to the Board and Sandt explained the trucks features and that it can hold 5 times what our current truck can handle.

TRICK-OR-TREAT/OCTOBER 31, 2005 6:00-8:00 PM was passed in a 5:0 vote.

POLICE DEPARTMENT/SCHOOL INVESTIGATION S.O.P. - Holmgaard said that this was a continuation of his report from the last meeting. There was a meeting on 9/28/05 and Chief Dorney was asked to prepare the Standard Operating Procedures. Ackerman said that he thought it was very complicated and suggested that they wait for Easton to give Forks direction. Holmgaard said that "we cannot operate without some guidelines." Dorney explained that this policy states that Forks will respond to any and all emergency calls for assistance. It also says that Forks can go to the school for something that happened outside of the school (if they are conducting an investigation.) Ackerman asked if Forks could then go to Lafayette College (Metzger Field) and was told that Lafayette has its own police department but that Forks would assist in an emergency if requested. Nicholas said that she liked the fact that the EASD Police Department will have to call Forks through the (county) emergency system and that Forks will not respond to cell phone calls. She felt that this covered the Township from lawsuits. Nicholas also liked the fact that the document spelled out that the EASD police will be the primary police department at the school. The S.O.P. was accepted in a 5:0 vote.

BUDGET REVIEW (AUGUST) - Discussion began with Nicholas stating that there are a lot of budget items OVER 100% (over budget already - about $62.8K over in fact). She wondered if another budget adjustment should be made now. Kichline said that a budget is a guide. Kichline felt that in the case of gasolene in particular, that the Board will want to see that the Township is over budget. Nicholas said that the Township will be way over on Mr. Gale’s costs by the end of the project. Ackerman asked Kichline if she is monitoring his time sheets. She said that she is.

There was an EXECUTIVE SESSION to discuss personnel issues. No action was taken and the meeting was adjourned.

Our objective is to relate what is experienced at Forks Township meetings for those who cannot attend. We are attempting to be as factual as we can. If we make a mistake, tell us via email or COMMENT here in the blog, and we will do our best to correct it. We are not perfect. We want to get it right.