Sunday, March 18, 2007

BoS Meeting 3/15/2007

The March 15th Board of Supervisors’ meeting was relatively short considering the importance of several of the agenda items. Press coverage of the Forks EMS restart and the Fire Company contract with Stockertown will be linked/noted below.

The meeting in brief follows:

  • Public Safety (Supervisor Nicholas) - the next committee meeting is set for March 27th at 5:00 PM. Topics will include the EOC (Emergency Operations Center) room inventory, the Keep Kids Alive program, and ID cards for the EOC room.
  • Public Works (Supervisor Ackerman) - committee will meet Tuesday in the Municipal Building at 7:30 AM.
  • Parks & Recreation (Supervisor Miller) - no committee report.
  • Community Relations (Supervisor Howell) - committee meeting was cancelled because of unforeseen circumstances. The final draft of the next Forks Quarterly is expected for review shortly. Publication will be in last 8 days of the month with distribution at month end.
  • Finance (Supervisor Hoff) - committee meet yesterday (3/14) and discussed the cell tower sketch plan (a representative from T-Mobile will be at the 4/28 committee meeting), purchase order policy, and training records tracking. The new employee training packet given to the new Township Manager was pronounced a success.
  • Finance Manager Jim Farley said that Barb Bartek, Human Resources Manager attended a BeneCom (sic) meeting and that the Township received an $83,000 premium refund (for 2006) because of effective management of the plan.

FORKS - STOCKERTOWN FIRE AND VEHICLE RESCUE ASSISTANCE AGREEMENT - Please read Courtney Lomax (Express Times) for details.

USE OF MEETING ROOM - CANDIDATES SUPERVISORS’ ELECT (MAY & NOVEMBER) - There was no discussion as Ms. Gerstel elected to withdraw her letter of request to use the meeting room. In a prepared statement, Ms. Gerstel said that it was because a male Supervisor interfered with her dealings with the League of Women Voters. Ms. Gerstel added that because of this "underhanded maneuver" she will engage in no activities for the 2007 Supervisors race "except as a voter and a possible participant at a candidate event until this character of the Board is upgraded."

FORKS EMS - Please read Courtney Lomax (Express Times) and Madeleine Mathias (Morning Call) for details.

PRESBY MINOR SUBDIVISION - The land is located along Church Road and the subdivision was approved subject to the property owners making a cash payment for curbing and sidewalks in the future. The property owner appeared with his attorney and asked the Board to reconsider the condition. The Board listened and declined to take any further action.


FORKS LANDING BUSINESS PARK - THREE WAY AGREEMENT WITH NORFOLK SOUTHERN RAILWAY COMPANY & R.B. ASSOCIATES - Kline explained that R.B. Associates (Rick Bartolacci and family) need to install stormwater pipes under the Conrail line for their industrial land water runoff. The land is north of Uhlers Road. Norfolk Southern requires that both the developer and the Township sign as co-licensees. R.B. will pay the costs and fees. Kline added that if the Township refuses to sign, the project will be killed. However, he noted that if anything were to go wrong, Norfolk Southern would look to both co-licensees, R.B. Associates AND the Township of Forks. Kline sent a letter to the (R.B.) engineer indicating that the staff would be willing to recommend the three-party agreement to the Board, subject to conditions including that R.B. be responsible for repairs and maintenance for a period of 60 months and not the usual 18 months (the reasoning is that if something is going to go wrong with the pipes it will likely show up in the first 5 years). Another condition is that R.B. Associates (in a personal guarantee) agree to indemnify and hold the Township harmless from liability from any damage that arises from the pipes. R.B. Associates has approved the letter. The pipes will be at the Bushkill Creek end and not near Sullivan Trail. Authorization to execute the agreement was approved 5:0.

ESTATES AT STEEPLECHASE NORTH, PHASE 4 - DEVELOPER’S AGREEMENTS - Kline reported that all of the paperwork is in order and signed by the developer. The Township has the certificate of insurance as well as a letter of credit for $957,335.02 to cover the municipal improvements.

MEETING ROOM TABLES - The Board voted 4:1 (Nicholas cast the nay vote) to purchase two custom tables for the meeting room. The tables will echo the shape of the curved dais and will be manufactured by Eisenhardt Mills of Forks Township. Each will be 6' long. The funds will come from the Board’s $40,000 discretionary fund - a fund earmarked to finish the meeting room. Please read Madeleine Mathias (Morning Call) for more on the discussion.

REVISED FEE SCHEDULE/ADOPTION - The new fee schedule (for rental of Community Center rooms, pavilion rental, electrical permit fees, zoning fees, etc.) was discussed and the Board voted 5:0 to authorize Kline to prepare it for the next meeting.

POSSIBLE USE OF RECYCLING BUILDING FOR SIGN ROOM - Using a portion of an unoccupied building as the sign room was discussed. It will need roof repairs, heat, insulation and fixtures for the lavatory. This was tabled 5:0. Cost estimates will be prepared.

EXECUTIVE SESSION - An executive session was held to discuss a personal issue and the non-uniformed employee contract negotiations. No action was taken after the session.

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.

Monday, March 05, 2007

BoS Meeting 3/1/07

On March 1st the Board of Supervisors hired a new Township Manager. His name is Richard Schnaedter and he has had 20 years experience in Township leadership positions. He begins his new position on Monday, March 5th. Both Madeleine Mathias (Morning Call) and Courtney Lomax (Express Times) were there. Please read their articles. We will try to fill in the blanks.

Supervisor Comments:
Supervisor Nicholas noted receipt of Forks resident Gretchen Gerstel’s written request to the Board to use the Municipal Meeting Room for two meet-the-candidates nights before the May 15th Primary and an additional one before the November general election. Supervisor Ackerman thought it (the meetings) should be held in the Community Center. Supervisor Miller said that the League of Women Voters should run them. Nicholas said that she didn’t know if the League will do it. Sandy Hanks (audience and recent appointee to the Board of Elected Auditors) noted that it will not be run by Residents Who Care and that RWC is going to ask the League of Women Voters or the press to do it. Discussion of Gerstel’s request will be added to the March 15 meeting agenda.

Treasurer’s Report - Secretary/Treasurer Howell detailed the debits (cash paid out) since the last Supervisors meeting. Acceptance of the debits and transfers was approved 5:0.

Standing Committee Reports

  • Public Safety - Supervisor Nicholas - reported that the next meeting is scheduled for March 6th at 5:00 PM.
  • Public Works - Supervisor Ackerman - said that the next meeting will be March 6th at 7:30 AM. He also reported that because heavy rains were due, the road crew already had barriers set up at flood prone roads. Ackerman noted too, that during the snow removal, the crews spent a lot of time (clearing snow) in cul-de-sacs.
  • 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 the youth dances have resumed at the Community Center with the first taking place on February 23rd. There were 257 kids, 26 chaperones, and 3 police in attendance. He said that everyone was pleased and that there was "not one kid alone in a room" (because he/she did not have an ID.)
  • Community Relations - Supervisor Howell - said that the staff has met to review the website menu (for ease of navigation) and that the first proof of the Forks Quarterly spring edition may be ready next week. He reminded all that the committee meets on the 2nd and 4th Wednesdays of the month (at 9:00 AM and 4:30 PM respectively) and that the public is invited.
  • Finance & Administration - Supervisor Hoff - reported that the committee met yesterday afternoon and that they discussed and will bring to up at the next BoS meeting:
    - Additional meeting room tables (have bids)
    - Fee schedules (of all Township charged fees)
    - A change in the cleaning of the buildings (have a proposal)
  • The committee is still waiting for the cell tower proposal. They are also looking at potential software and policy updates for the puchase order system. In addition, the committee is looking at fire extinguisher and AED (?) training. Exit routes have been prepared for all the rooms in the municipal complex buildings. The next meeting is set for March 14th at 3:00 PM.

Engineer’s Report - Fred Hay - Agenda items only.

Solicitor’s Report - Karl Kline - Agenda items only.

Comments from the Public - none


TOWNSHIP MANAGER - Please read the newspaper accounts by both Courtney Lomax (Express Times) and Madeleine Mathias (Morning Call) for details on the new Township Manager (Richard Schnaedter) appointment.

PROPOSAL FOR STOCKERTOWN FIRE PROTECTION - Please read Courtney Lomax (Express Times) for a report on the very lengthy discussion of the proposal for Forks fire department to continue coverage of Stockertown Borough. - (Added 3/6/07: Also see Madeleine Mathias' Morning Call column from 3/6/07).


JOSEPH MAZZARESE MINOR SUBDIVISION PLAN - The property owner’s representative, Lou Ferrone, explained that this is simply to add 11 feet of property from one lot to the one that has the swimming pool so that the pool will be only on one piece of property. The land is on Broadway Road. It was accepted in a 5:0 vote.

KAREN PRESBY MINOR SUBDIVISION PLAN - Hay explained that this minor 2 lot subdivision (of an existing lot) on Church Road is possible because Church Road now has public sewers. Hay said that the Planning Commission recommended a plan note that the driveway on the second lot must be at least 75' from the center line of Briarwood. The future owners of this lot, as well as the existing lot owners will have to hook up to the sewer at their own expense. The Board added another plan note - that if Church is ever widened, sidewalks must be installed by the property owner. The Township will also require an up-front donation from the lot 1 owner to cover this future expense. Hay noted that Steeplechase donated a substantial amount of money for curbing in front of the Werkheiser tract. It passed 5:0.

PURCHASE OF A NEW BACKHOE - Ackerman reported the Township budgeted $75,000 for a new backhoe and that it will cost $30,000 to repair Forks’ old backhoe. He said that a new John Deere will cost $73,650. The dealer, Plasterer Equipment, offered $20,000 for a trade-in. Kline noted that this is being done through the City of Harrisburg’s PAC (?) program (where municipalities can purchase equipment without going out for bids) and added that under 2nd Class Township Code (Section 1504) Township property worth more than $1,000 cannot just be traded but must be advertised (for bids or a public auction) and sold to the highest bidder (unless the Township doesn’t think they are being offered enough and rejects the bids). Ackerman said that two years ago the Township traded in the old payloader for a new payloader. This passed in a 5:0 vote. The old backhoe will be advertised to the public and the new backhoe will be ordered.

AGREEMENT WITH ESWA/EASTON SUBURBAN WATER AUTHORITY - Finance Manager Farley said that this involves water shut-offs for non-payment of sewer bills. There is an annual contract that is renewed in January but because water shut-offs cannot be done until April, the contract was not sent sooner. Kline explained that shutting off water, usually gets a person’s attention and the sewer bill gets paid. The water authority requires this contract to avoid suit. The fee for each shut-off is $50. The Board voted 5:0 to renew the contract.

Hoff advised the Board that the PSATS convention is April 22-25 and if they plan to attend, they should let Barb (Bartek) know.

There was an EXECUTIVE SESSION to discuss the non-uniformed employee contract. No action was taken by the Supervisors during the Executive Session. A unanimous vote was taken after the session to consult a labor attorney. 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.