Sunday, November 05, 2006

BoS Meeting 11/2/2006

The November 2nd meeting of the Board of Supervisors ended without an executive session. The Board spent much time on the subject of Forks Township Youth Sports Organization dances (for grades 5-7) in the Community Center. Both Joe Nixon (Morning Call) and Precious Petty (Express Times) reported on the meeting. Please read their articles. We will try to fill in the blanks.

Supervisor Comments:

Supervisor David Howell addressed
Karen Haduck’s letter published in the (11/1/06 edition of the) Express Times. He refered to Ms. Haduck’s letter as "a stirring, moving and disturbing description of a dance" held at the Community Center on 10/27/06 and put on by the Forks Township Youth Sports Organization. (Howell asked if Ms. Haduck was in attendance and at this point she was not.) Howell personally apologized for the dance and said that he found out about it from the newspaper. He said that he called a few friends in the Township and that they confirmed that "this was not an atypical dance."

Howell said that he thought there was failure of communication between the Board of Supervisors and its appointed boards and commissions. He said that the failure of the Athletic Association to maintain appropriate conduct at the dances is disrespectful to the residents as well as to the Board. Howell said that it puts all employees as well as all elected and appointed officials of the Township at risk for "civil liability" if something that could have been anticipated and dealt with occurs at one of the dances.

Howell noted that it is not the responsibility of the police department to act as chaperones (and intervene in instances of inappropriate conduct) and he motioned that dances be suspended until the "failure of responsibility" can be sorted out. He called for a public meeting (to be held in the evening so parents can attend) with the Parks and Recreation Committee and officers of the Recreation Board and the Athletic Association.

Supervisor Nicholas said that when her son was small she chaperoned dances because she wanted to be sure that where her son was was safe. She said that she did participate in separating children, although not to the degree described in Haduck’s letter. Nicholas said that "a lot of parents need to get involved in their children’s lives."

(Acting Chairman) Supervisor Miller said that he attends all the dances and that 90% of the kids are just good kids. He added 10% of the kids watch too much television or are taken by their parents to R rated movies. Miller also said that there were 2 paid staff members there as well as 3 police officers (paid for by the Athletic Association) and that "we were not informed." Miller said that he found out about it the next day from Haduck who attended jazzercise class and told him about it. He added that "for whatever reason" she did not say anything that night when something could have been done about it (like call the parents.) He said that he doesn’t know who the kids were. Miller said that he does tell parents to come to dances and see what their kids are doing.

Nicholas said that she suggested a few years ago that photo IDs be issued for the kids and that contact/parent information be on them. That way she said, if a kid is acting up, his/her card can be pulled and that the kid would not be allowed back in the dance. Nicholas said too that it would discourage kids who act up from coming in the first place.

Howell said that he doesn’t know the rules and regulations for the dances and that they should be published.

Zoning Officer Weis noted that he, the (former) Township Manager and Police Chief Dorney met on more than one occasion with the athletic association. Weis said that they did outline rules and regulations including the number of chaperones that had to be there and the procedure for ID checking. He said that this was established last year but didn’t know if there was a written policy somewhere.

Miller suggested that the rules be revisited. Howell added that there should be members of the Athletic Association in at the dances who have "virtual responsibility" and who will call the police when necessary. Supervisor Ackerman said that dances should be stopped until the Athletic Association meets in front of the Board.

Howell’s motion to suspend the dances pending review of the policies and procedures at a special public meeting/workshop was passed 4:0.

Karen Haduck arrived late to the meeting and missed the first 10% of this discussion. She was allowed to speak when she made her presence known well into the meeting. We are including her comments here.

Haduck said she was here on a school night (with a babysitter at home) because it is important to her. She said that there was nothing exaggerated in her letter to the paper. She said that she made no representation that the police should be responsible for taking action on inappropriate behavior.

Haduck agreed with Miller than only about 10% of the kids are causing the problem. She also said that all
the rules are on the website and that she just found them. She added that the "wheel does not have to be invented, it’s there." The rules just need to be enforced.

Haduck said that she stood in the rotunda of the Community Center and spoke with two policemen and one employee for at least 10 minutes about what she saw during the previous 2-1/2 hours.

Haduck said too, that cancelling dances is not the answer. She said that kids that age do not need "ambiance" and that the lights should be turned on. She said that someone should talk to the DJ about the music that is played and that at one point all the kids were lined up doing a line dance and the DJ stopped it after about 30 seconds to play the MTV type music. She said that there should be no dances until IDs are issued. She thought that there are easy, simple steps to getting this worked out.

Howell invited Haduck’s assistance at the public meeting. She agreed to participate.

Treasurer’s Report - Secretary/Treasurer David Howell detailed the debits (cash paid out) since the last Supervisors meeting.

Howell’s motion to accept the debits and transfers was approved 4:0. (Chairman/Supervisor Hoff was in attendance.)

Standing Committee Reports

  • Public Safety - Supervisor Nicholas - announced that she has received the emergency management ID cards and that all employees and Supervisors will be getting them (in case of emergency). Weis will be taking the ID photos.

    Nicholas also said that the police department server must be replaced and that there is money in the legislative capital purchases fund to cover Hodges Technologies $4930 estimate. Replacing the server passed 4:0.

    There was discussion of the ICU Services newly received invoice for $1050 (for when the "DVR went down"). Apparently ICU said that they were going to "eat" this charge. Ackerman asked Nicholas to look into this.
  • Parks & Recreation - Supervisor Miller - (Note: Miller continues to report on events in the parks as his committee report. The following comments rightly belong in the Supervisors’ Comments section. It would appear that the Parks & Recreation committee seldom, if ever, meets since if it did, he would give a committee report.) Miller reported that there are approximately 5000 people expected in the Township over the weekend for the annual soccer tournament. He also said that Farley is working on compiling the survey data and that 700 have been processed so far.

  • Community Relations - Supervisor Howell - reported that he received the black and white galleys for the new quarterly publication and that it looks very nice. There were some ad placement issues so it will be just a little longer until its published.

  • Public Works - Supervisor Ackerman - said that the committee will be meeting on Wednesday at 7:000 AM. He also said that DPW Director Sandt tried out the new leaf vac and loves the way it works.

Emergency Management Coordinator - Tim Weis asked if everyone noticed the new clock in the meeting room. It cost $35 and all were impressed at how nice it looks. There was applause.

Nicholas said a computer is needed for the Command Center and will cost $2500. It will be an administrative capital purchase item. Purchase was approved 4:0.

Weis reported that he did write letters to the two homeowners affected by the driveway easement (Knollwood and Ben Jon?) as far as snow plows are concerned.

Weis said too, that the Knox-Box Ordinance deadline is coming up and 6 commercial properties are online now and by the end of November there will be 20. Weis also requested that the Board pass a resolution to adopt the Hazard Mitigation Plan (a joint effort by Lehigh and Northampton Counties). He said that a resolution is necessary by local municipalities in order to adopt the plan. This will make the Township eligible for funds in the event of natural disaster or terrorist attack.

Weis announced the next hearing dates for the Kings Mill zoning challenge as November 13, December 4, and December 18. All will be at 7:30 PM.

Engineer’s Report - Fred Hay - reported that the DPW finished work on the Sycamore swale and he recommended that letters be sent to homeowners association explaining "perpetual maintenance." The homeowners are responsible for the maintenance.

Hay said that the new sinkhole on Arndt Road will need emergency repair and that the sewer line is under water. He said that they televised the line and that there are about 220 feet that must be replaced. Howell asked if the Suburban Water Authority will pay for it. Hay said that that gets into what caused the sinkhole and that they would be forever arguing. He said that they will say that the sinkhole caused the break in the pipe. Howell said that he knows that sinkholes are caused by water and erosion. Howell suggested sending a bill. Hay said he expects to get it back with a little note saying "prove it."

Solicitor’s Report - Karl Kline - said that he had only agenda items. Howell asked Kline what is normally done with voting for PERMA (sic) (the Township is a member). He wondered if they make a selection as a Board or as individuals. Ackerman said that they’ve never done anything because they don’t know any of the people. Howell asked if he could make selections on behalf of the Board. Nicholas said he could make his own but not hers. Kline explained that it’s one vote, the vote of the Board of Supervisors. He suggested that Howell research the candidates and make a recommendation to the Board for voting. Howell said that he would make his choice based simply on the information provided in the voting materials. The Township’s vote is not due until December 31. Howell will read the materials and make a recommendation to the Board.

Comments from the Public

  • Mary Cuadra of Easton’s pool advisory board addressed the Board to appeal for support for next year’s pool costs. She said that Easton will only open one community pool, Eddyside and that Forks families use it. Cuadra said that there the 2007 budget for one pool is $24,000 and that the actual cost to run two pools last year was $91,000. She proposed that a Forks resident join the pool advisory board to help make decisions on what happens to the pools. Cuadra hopes that the Board will consider helping. Howell asked if they are exploring charging a larger non-resident fee. Howell also asked if she will approach Lanta regarding a bus pickup from the Giant to Eddyside. She said that she would ask.
  • Jim Wideman (Planning Commission member) addressed the Board about the height of the speed bumps in the park. He said that they are unacceptable and that his car bottoms out going over them no matter how slow he goes. He would like them changed into humps instead of bumps. Ackerman asked if they are removable and Sandt said, "No." Wideman suggested that they are "expandable."


FORKS COMMONS - CVS LAND DEVELOPMENT PLAN - Weis said that he received a phone call from the developer asking to be removed from this night’s agenda. Also, he received a letter from the developer granting an extension until 3/31/07. This will go before the Planning Commission for acceptance.

FORT JAMES III - PRELIMINARY SUBDIVISION PLAN, PHASE I - Hay reported that the developer asked to have this item removed from the agenda and rescheduled to the next Board agenda. He added that the developer plans to begin pursuing the Braden rail crossing with the PUC.

RESOLUTION 061102-1/ESTABLISHMENT OF LEGAL DEFENSE FUND - Kline said that this fund was suggested by Forks resident Rachel Hoagland. Kline said that a contribution does not entitle a resident to tell the Board how to handle litigation. The resolution states that contributions are to be made payable to the Township of Forks with notations that indicate that it is for the legal defense fund. The resolution also states that the funds are to be used for the costs of defending the Township’s ordinances and policies against legal challenges and that the Board of Supervisors has sole discretion to use the funds for "said purpose." "The Board of Supervisors shall have sole control and authority over the conduct of such litigation." This passed 4:0.

2007 BUDGET/FIRST DRAFT SUBMISSION - Finance Manager Farley said that the budget was pretty close to being balanced and he recommended sending it back to Finance Committee and to the departments to trim it down. There will be another budget meeting on November 13 at 4:30 PM.

POLICE DEPARTMENT/FIVE-YEAR PLAN - Nicholas provided copies of the plan to the Board. She said that Chief Dorney did most of the work. It will be voted on at the next BoS meeting.

AUTHORIZATION TO ACCEPT APPLICATIONS/POLICE DEPARTMENT - The Five Year Plan for the police department included hiring two new officers next year. Because it takes time to review applications, Dorney asked for authorization to accept applications now. This passed 4:0.

LIGHTENING PROTECTION - Nicholas said that lightening struck again and hit the camera on the pole and consequently the DVR in the police department is all "fuzzy." She had an estimate for $9,000 for surge protection. Also recommended was the purchase of a new DVR and keeping the damaged one as a spare. A new DVR will cost $6975. (Farley will check the State contract to see if a comparable DVR is available.)

Nicholas also had an estimate of $18,000 for lightening protection. Because it is over $10,000 it must go out for bid. Hay will write the bid specs.

Howell asked who ICU is and Nicholas said that it is the company that installed the security system. Howell said that the $9000 proposal indicates products to be purchased. Nicholas said if that if "you go and mess with those DVRs" the warranty will be voided. Howell thought that surge protection might be a generic product that could be purchased. Nicholas told him that the warranties will be voided on all the cameras and DVRs.

Ackerman said that he would like to see the surge protectors go out for bid. Howell agreed and Hay will write up the bid spec.

COMPUTER FOR COMMAND CENTER - Voted on earlier in the meeting and approved. See Emergency Management Coordinator above.

BUILDING SECURITY - The discussion about keys continued. Miller said that he had no problem with the Supervisors having keys to the front door. Ackerman said that they don’t need keys to the offices but that not being able to lock the front door is a problem. He added that he should be able to get into the administrative area.

Nicholas argued that municipal buildings are to be used to house people in cases of emergency. Weis said that the Knox-Box does have a key for every room in the building. Nicholas then said that if she wants to give someone a tour, she should call 911? She said that people give the Board the authority to run the Township but won’t let them walk in the buildings. She said that if a Supervisor wants a key, he/she should have one and that there are cameras all over the building. She added, "If you can’t trust me, then tell me to get out of this position."

Miller said that the security system was set up this way for a reason (but he doesn’t know what it was) and that they all have access to the areas during working hours. The key policy was set by two people who are no longer employees of the Township, Alex Gale and Kathy Kichline. Ackerman said that the key policy should have come to the Board. The vote to give keys to Supervisors was tied 2:2.

SPCA 2007 CONTRACT - Farley said that there is a language change in the contract this year restricting the animal control officer and police department as the only authorized agents of the Township to bring animals to the SPCA. The Township will be charged per animal. It passed 4:0.

MET-ED RESOLUTION/STREET LIGHTS/RIVERVIEW WEST - Hay said that everything has been inspected and is ready to go. The vote was 4:0 in favor.

MET-ED RESOLUTION/STREET LIGHTS/LAMBERT ESTATES - Hay said that everything has been inspected and is ready to go. The vote was 4:0 in favor.

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.

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