REPORTS: SUPERVISORS, MANAGER, ENGINEER & SOLICITOR
- Supervisor Bonnie Nicholas reported that she attended the very interesting meeting in Lower Mount Bethel Township where PPL & the DEP reported on the PPL flyash spill. She also said that she was at a meeting that both Supervisor candidates attended with residents of Lockwood Congress. The residents asked her once again that a sidewalk be installed on Old Mill Road so that they can walk (to the stairway down) to the Giant shopping center. Engineer Fred Hay said that an Old Mill Road resident’s landscaping will be altered but that the landscaping is in the right-of-way. Chairman John Ackerman told Hay to get bids and Hay told him that the Giant only contributed $3500 for the sidewalk. A resident of Lockwood Congress added that they DO walk there.
- Supervisor Henning Holmgaard asked that his lengthy Police Department report be added to the end of the agenda.
- Ackerman said that he had the Public Works report. He also said that he received a letter from a resident who said that the police told her (and other people walking their dogs) that she cannot walk her dog in Lafayette Park. DPW head, Gary Sandt confirmed that the park is posted with "no dogs allowed" signs. Hoff asked if there was a sign near the pike path on Richmond Road that leads to the park and if there isn’t one there, that one be placed there. Ackerman then suggested that an area be fenced (in the Township park near the airport) for dogs.
- Kichline welcomed and introduced Jim Farley, the new Finance Manager.
- Hay reported that the sod was not set properly in the Frost Hollow Swale and it was damaged by the rains the other night. It is being repaired. He also said that he had a meeting with PennDot and a developer (Forks Landing ?) is willing to donate money to improve the Sullivan Trail and Church Lane intersection.
After the reading of the DEBITS/TRANSFERS, Nicholas asked why the Township was paying for 5 Sam’s Club memberships and was told by Kichline that the 5 department heads each had one. Nicholas said that she spoke to someone at Sam’s Club and that it’s possible for a municipality to have just one membership and that whoever uses it, simply must pay with a Township check. Ackerman asked that Kichline and Nicholas work on this.
Nicholas also asked about the Recreation Board money ($30,000) and why it wasn’t on the budget. Supervisor Donald Miller explained that the Rec. Board has a separate budget and audit and that the Supervisors approve it. Miller said that if that they don’t use all of their money, the budget will come down next year.
- Nicholas asked if she could attend the Northampton Count Association of Township Officials. Barb Bartok (Board Secretary and Office Manager) will submit the request for her.
- Nicholas also noted that someone mentioned to her that the trash cans in the park look bad and wondered if the Township would provide maroon and gold paint to some kids who need Community Service Credits so that they can paint them.
- Nicholas thanked Officer Rowden for signing up for the scouts Merit Badge programs for Finger Painting (Printing?) and Crime Prevention. Officer Nicholson will be asked to do the Bicycle Safety Merit Badge.
- Nicholas said that people have asked her why there are non-township residents on the Recreation Board. Miller said that the State of PA says it’s okay to have non-residents on the Recreation Board. Nicholas asked if the Township can make its own residency requirement since it would be more beneficial to have someone who lives in Forks on the Board. She was told by Solicitor Karl Kline that it can. The two non-residents’ terms on the Rec. Board have a few more years to run.
- Holmgaard said that he had a letter sent to Chief Dorney from a family who has had serious tragedies in their home over the last couple of months, commending the Police Department.
- Holmgaard also said that Chief Dorney applied for and received a grant from the Department of Homeland Security for the acquisition of thermal imaging equipment and the training to go with it. The training (in Washington, DC) will take 3 days.
COMMENTS FROM THE FLOOR (NOT AGENDA ITEMS):
Resident Gretchen Gerstel asked why there were no regular Planning Commission Workshops (Note: The September Joint Meeting was cancelled, as were the July and August meetings.) She thought that there must be something that would cause the Planning Commission to meet. She was told by Ackerman that Charlie Schmel (URDC) was not ready with the zoning changes in time for the September meeting and that he didn’t know why there was no regular workshop session. Kline said that he has no idea either. Ackerman advised her to ask the Planning Commission Chairman (Vito Tamborrino).
Resident Leon Fisher posed a request to the Board for a 4-way stop with red flashing lights at the intersection of Arndt Road and Bushkill Drive. He said that residents are afraid to use that intersection because it is too dangerous. He said that he spoke with Mr. Heckman (in charge of the buses) and that the buses are told not to use that road. He asked that the Board petition PennDot to establish it as a "dangerous intersection." He added that the new Newlins Road Bridge from Palmer Township will result in increased traffic on Bushkill Drive as will the extension of Kesslerville Road. He thought it should be installed before the new school is finished. He said too that he spoke with a PennDot representative (Mr. Chonka) and that PennDot won’t fund the light. Miller said that the Township spoke with PennDot (in the past) and that they told PennDot that the Township would fund the light and PennDot said "no." Hay noted that the intersection was bad in 1971 when he got his permit. Kichline said that she would set up a meeting with PennDot.
The STATUS UPDATE BY ALEX GALE/MUNICIPAL COMPLEX is always of interest. Gale said that the Police Department site lighting is complete and working. Ackerman asked him about the traffic light on Sullivan Trail and Gale said that the emergency controller will operate from both the Police Department and the Fire Department.
He said that the roof leaked where there were no panels yet (Municipal Building) and that "roofers will be roofers." They went home that morning because it was raining at 6:30 when they arrived (and it was a nice day after the early morning rain).
Gale said that they got the Certificate of Occupancy for the Fire Department, that the L&I inspection was passed on Wednesday, and that he wanted to start moving trucks and equipment next weekend. He said that Fire Chief Weis was concerned about equipment being damaged during the construction and that he (Gale) needs the Board’s support to make the move. Supervisor Hoff said that he would work with Weis and that he thinks the move should go forward.
Nicholas asked if network hookup is available in the Supervisors’ room and Gale said the entire building is wired for the network. She said that she would like a computer in that room. Holmgaard said, "No problem."
ORDINANCE NO. 293/SUPERVISORS’ COMPENSATION passed in a 5:0 vote after Kline explained it and the fact that none of the sitting Supervisors will benefit during their current terms. Holmgaard said that he didn’t care but ultimately made the vote unanimous. This will give Supervisors elected or appointed after November 1, 2005 compensation in the amount of $2650 per year. Supervisors elected or appointed after November 1, 2007 will receive $3200 per year.
PATRIOT VILLAGE/PRELIMINARY PLAN APPROVAL - Kline noted for the record that he has represented Mr. Shirey (sic) in the past and that he does not represent him on this particular transaction. This project will have 21 single family lots in the CR district along Sullivan Trail with access from Meco Road. There will be 2 cul de sacs (waivers already received). There will be a bike path connection from the northerly road into Lafayette Park’s bike path. The Planning Commission accepted this plan based on the conditions in the Keystone review letter and that there be an utility easement between lots 7 & 8 for the planned bathroom in the park. The Planning Commission also recommended a short sidewalk or pad for school kids to wait for their buses. Hay asked who will maintain the pad (since it’s not part of the subdivision or in front of anyone’s house?) Ackerman suggested that the people who want it should take care of it. Nicholas questioned the lack of sidewalks. Hay said that there will eventually be sidewalks on the other side of Meco. A suggestion was made that the Township accept a contribution from the developer instead of the pad at this time. The plan was granted Preliminary Approval in a 5:0 vote.
Kichline said that she must publicly inform the municipality of the MINIMUM MUNICIPAL OBLIGATION/MMO’S: POLICE & NON-UNIFORM. She stated the figures are, for the Police $235,163, and for non-uniform $30,192. Ackerman said that this is an obligation that must be budgeted.
REORGANIZATION - Nicholas spoke to this agenda item saying that she is liaison to the Sewer Department which consists of three people, two of whom report directly to DPW Manager Sandt and one in the office who does more than Sewer Department work. She thought that next year there should be different liaisons and that there should be none for the Sewer Department. Kline explained that the Township has taken over all the responsibilities for the operation and maintenance of the system. Ackerman asked her what her restructuring suggestions are. Kichline asked that the Board consider doing away with the liaison rolls because of the Township’s growth and replacing them with Committees made up of two Supervisors and herself (eg. Public Safety, Planning & Community Development, Personnel & Finance, etc.) Nicholas noted that she spoke with David Howell (Zoning Hearing Board) a few weeks ago and he posed that concept to her. Kichline acknowledged that she too, had spoken with Howell. Howell said that most municipalities have these executive functions for Supervisors to perform as an oversight of the administration of the township. Ackerman said that it’s something to think about before next year. Kichline offered to come up with a report on how the interactions might work.
POLICE DEPARTMENT REPORT/ SHAWNEE SCHOOL - Holmgaard said that on 7/22/05, he, Kichline, Superintendent Riker and the Chairman of the School Board met to discuss what the role of the Forks Police Department will be at the Shawnee School. Holmgaard learned then that the district wanted to establish its own police department. According to Holmgaard, the reason he was given for this action was because the district was kept "out of the loop for days" during last year’s firearm incident at the school. He said that according to (non-Township) records, the school district was notified within 30 minutes of the incident. There was to be another meeting.
The district hired Officer Perez (sic), a retired Allentown police officer. On September 2nd Judge Zito signed an order to give two school district officers (Rafael Perez and Louis Coxe) the same powers that local Forks police have, but they are restricted to school property and school buses. Holmgaard said that on September 6th Forks police had to handle a knife incident at Shawnee because Perez told them that he did not have the authority to arrest yet and that the Forks officer spent all day there (on the Township’s, not the school district’s, payroll.)
Holmgaard stated that he wants guidelines from the Board. Kichline added that Chief Dorney (not present) wants Standard Operating Procedures. Kline added that it is important to know what the jurisdiction will be on any school property and school buses.
Holmgaard continued his time-line detailing that he received a letter dated 9/8/05 that was postmarked 9/13/05 stating that a meeting had taken place between Coxe (head of school district security), Dorney, and Perez and that he (Dorney) was to receive some guidelines from Coxe. Holmgaard said that he thought decisions like this should be handled on the level of the school board and/or the school district administration and not someone who works for them (although they should have input).
Kline said that he received a call from the school district’s solicitor yesterday. He said that there must be agreement as to what Forks Police Department’s role will be and that not having one is a very serious matter. The worst case situation must be planned for. Who, for example, will be responsible to transport a juvenile to jail? What about a 911 call? He suggested the best thing to do is for "reasonable people" on the part of the school district and the Township to sit down and work out the S.O.P. (and, then have it approved by the Board of Supervisors) to let the school district know how Forks Township will respond. If not, then the Township should draft S.O.P.s detailing the situations in which the Township will respond and in which the school police will. Right now, nobody knows what the rules are.
Kline also said that the EASD solicitor was not aware of a request for a meeting. He agreed that it is serious and that it is important that the S.O.P. be in place so that everyone understands what can happen in various situations. Kline will call their solicitor tomorrow to let him know that the Township would like to initiate this and get it done as promptly as possible.
There was an EXECUTIVE SESSION to discuss a personnel issue. 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