Sunday, April 20, 2008

BoS 4/17/08

Regular Meeting (agenda)

On this night the Supervisors voted to sign the lease with Lafayette College for the springhouse on Bushkill Drive and to sublease it to the Forks Historical Society.  They also awarded the emergency services training facility (fire tower) contract to WHP Training Towers. - Read more about the training tower in JD Malone's 4/18/08 Express Times article

Supervisors' Comments

Supervisor Egolf reminded those present that on Tuesday, April 22nd, the Planning Commission will go over the new Comprehensive Plan - at its 7 PM workshop.  He said that it is important for all interested parties to be there.

Treasurer's Report - Egolf detailed the debits (cash paid out) since the last Supervisors meeting. The debits and transfers were approved with a 4:0 vote - Nicholas abstained because she had questions on some of the bills and was unable to ask about them before the meeting.  The current outstanding debt is $7,892.258.

Standing Committee Reports (meetings are open to the public - see the Township calendar for dates and times)

  • Public Safety - Supervisor Chuss - reported that the April 15 meeting was initially scheduled "to go over" the emergency services training tower plans.  They did that as well as address a full agenda including:
    • The Police Department modular furniture bid came in well below initial estimates at $18,396.  A motion was made by Chuss and seconded by Nicholas to purchase the furniture.  The vote was unanimous.
    • The communications issue was addressed with a repeater installed on Montana Mountain in NJ - to help cover some of the "dead spots" in Forks.  Chuss said that it has helped somewhat and is still being tested.  If the problems are not solved, other options will be explored.
    • Thermostats were installed in the police department building to address the HVAC issue there.
    • Chief Dorney is looking into the development of a Township anti-speeding program. There should be an update at the next committee meeting.
    • In an update on Forks EMS:  The directors met last week and discussed reverse billing (where Suburban would do all the billing and pay Forks EMS what they are owed).  They decided against it.  They have made a payment to Suburban $10,050 and are addressing the rest of the past debt (working out payments).  They are paying current  obligations to Suburban.  Also, Chuss reported that the squad's open house went well.
  • Public Works - Supervisor Miller - said that the topic of discussion at last week's meeting was a new public works garage.  They are starting to look for a site for it.  Also discussed was Maloney recreation land, Newlins/Sullivan drainage, Lieb Road drainage and Ben Jon Road.  
  • Parks & Recreation - Supervisor Howell - reported that the committee's extra monthly meeting was held last week.  They are reviewing the capital requirements for the community park.  Discussed were:
    • Replacement of the main apparatus with a new one chosen by the Recreation Board.
    • Addition of a toddler lot.
    • Neighborhood parks - the committee selected a number of neighborhood parks and a memo will be sent to Miller, the liaison to the Recreation Board, for the selection of apparatus compatible with the parks.
    • Cost estimates of all will be submitted to the Supervisors for consideration.
  • Community Relations - Supervisor Nicholas - said that the next meeting will be on Tuesday, May 6th.  The last meeting was canceled.  She reported, too, that she is pleased that two citizens have volunteered to assist the Community Relations Committee.  (Note:  She did not name the volunteers.)
  • Finance and Administration - Supervisor Egolf - reported that there is only one committee meeting in April and that will be on April 23rd at 5 PM.  On the agenda is a review of the comprehensive financial report of the 2007 budget prepared by Finance Manager Farley.

Township Manager's Report - Schnaedter - reported that Lafayette College is holding a Master Plan Seminar on Monday, April 21st from 3-4 PM.  Because Lafayette has facilities in Forks, the members of the BoS have been invited.  And, because seating is limited, those wishing to attend, must advise Schnaedter.  Chairman Howell was the only one who said he would be there. 

Schnaedter also said that he and (Zoning Officer) Tim Weis were visited by a representative from the Hazard Mitigation/Disaster Recovery office (note:  Northampton County's Emergency Management Division).  They were advised of a "severe repetitive loss program."  There are seven eligible residents in Forks and letters have been sent to them.  Contact Tim Weis or Angel Gillette, Hazard Mitigation/Recovery Manager with any questions.

Palmer Township has asked for a letter of support from the Township for their Rails-to-Trails grant request for the one mile of unfinished recreation path through Forks Township.  Egolf made a motion to write the letter of support.  Miller seconded.  In discussion Chuss said that he recalled that about two years ago Forks residents (of the area adjacent to the path) came to a PC meeting and described the problems they were having with trail users intruding upon their privacy and their property.  They asked for help from the PC to get buffers or fencing between the path and their properties.  Chuss suggested adding a caveat (to the letter of support) for Palmer to set a buffer between the path and the residents who live there.

Nicholas said if that is added to the letter, Forks would be telling Palmer what to do with "their piece of property."  She also said that a split rail fence has been installed and that she has walked there and there's never been a problem.  Hay said that a buffer is not feasible there because the path is too narrow and it is in a flood plain. 

Howell suggested that a letter of concern be sent from Forks' Township Manager to Palmer's Township Manager.  The motion was amended.  Two letters will be sent.  One in support of the bikepath connection and one expressing the concerns of the Forks residents.  Schnaedter asked if he could copy the second letter to the residents of the Friendly Tavern area.  The vote was 5:0.  (For a brief history of this issue, see BoS Meeting 3/17/2005 and BoS Meeting 4/19/2007.)

Schnaedter announced, too, that the recent Workman's Comp insurance audit resulted in a $7,949 premium reduction and a premium reduction for health insurance netted the Township a check for $79,684.  Also, a DPW employee was hired to fill a vacancy - "after extensive review of over 100 candidates."

Engineer's Report - Hay - agenda items only.

Solicitor's Report - Kline - gave an update on the following recent litigations:

  1. Weis Market - the challengers have withdrawn their appeal.  Weis' attorney said that the company is looking forward to moving forward quickly.
  2. KMRD procedural challenge - was denied by the Zoning Hearing Board (ZHB) on March 24th.  The Township is waiting for the written ruling from the ZHB.
  3. KMRD substantive challenge - should be wrapping up in the next month or so.  The next session is scheduled for Monday, April 21st.
  4. Strausser billing dispute - is in arbitration.  On April 17, Schnaedter, Hay, Farley, and Kline "did battle with Mr. Strausser" -  before an arbitrator.  Kline expects one more hearing before the arbitrator's decision.  The Township records show that Strausser owes $93,000 (to the Township.)  Strausser's records are "quite, quite, quite different."  In fact, Strausser thought the Township owed him money. 

Kline explained that the monies owed are for services provided that would be unnecessary if a developer was not doing a project.  When a developer proceeds with a project, he needs certain legal documents drafted - the subdivision improvement agreements, the maintenance agreements, etc. - and the Township should not have to pay for them since, if there were no project, there would be no need for the agreements and no need for the Township engineer to inspect and verify that things are being properly done.  The project (Riverview) started in 2001 and over the years, bills were disputed over and over again.  The $93,000 is the amount owed per the Township's records.


Emergency Services Training Facility (Bryan Weis, Fire Chief) - Weis said that four bids were received for the facility.  Three were comparable in price and the fourth was much higher.  Three of the bids were from one bidder using different contractors.  Only one bid, the second lowest, offered the turnkey solution that was sought and met all the bid specifications.  That bidder is WHP Training Towers at $343,518.

In discussion, Howell asked how many Township emergency units will use the facility.  Weis said that although it will be optimized for fire training, the police can use it for tactical training and the emergency squad can use it for rescue training. 

Farley said that the bid price is close to expectations and that the Township will pay up front from the capital funds it has in place (for the fire department.)  He said that it is cheaper to do it this way since the money is there.  Interest payments will be avoided and all that will be lost is the small amount of interest that the Township would have earned on the funds. 

The Fire Company will make an initial payment of $21,759 and will replenish the fund for 1/2 the total cost over a ten year period with a donation of $15,000 per year.  The facility will be owned by the Township and half paid for by the Fire Company.  According to Chuss, the facility should last 20-35 years.

Nicholas said that when she asked to see a contract at the Public Safety meeting, she was told that there wasn't one submitted.  However, Kline said that a contract was included in the bid package. 

Nicholas noted that the BoS has never seen a financial report from the Fire Company.  She added that the Board asks for one from the Forks EMS squad. 

The motion to award the bid to WHP was made by Chuss and seconded by Egolf.  The vote was 4:1 with Nicholas voting nay because she had not had an opportunity to review the contract. 

Another motion was made, this time to authorize Kline to draft an agreement with the Fire Company for their "donations" back to the Township.  It passed 5:0.

For more details, please see JD Malone's 4/18/08 Express Times article


Penn's Ridge - Phases 13 & 14 - Developers Agreements (Karl Kline, Solicitor) - Kline reported that the insurance is executed, the escrow is paid, and the letter of credit is funded.  In other words, all is in order.  This was approved unanimously by the Board.

Lafayette College Spring House Lease and Sublease (Karl Kline, Solicitor) - Kline said that he was "delighted" to report that after a year of working with the college, an agreement for a lease and sublease was reached for the springhouse - the possibly more than 200 year old stone structure (along the Bushkill Creek near the Tatamy border) - and the land approximately 100 feet to the north of it and 100 feet to its south (and from the creek to the road).  The lease is for 10 years and will cost Forks $100 per year.  The Township is also required to provide liability insurance to the college.

In turn, the Township will lease it to the Forks Historical Society for $1 per year.  The Historical Society has received a grant from the State to work on it.  They hope to  open it for public tours when it is ready.

The Board had previously approved the lease from Lafayette and only had to vote on the sublease.  Miller made the motion and it was seconded by Nicholas.  It was approved unanimously.  Nicholas said that she knows some Eagle Scouts who need a project and that they could help the Historical Society to clean it up. 

Forks Historical Society member (and former Forks Supervisor) Morris Metz, said that he made the initial approach to Jim Dicker at the college - for a lease.  Mr. Metz thanked the Board for their "diligence and persistence in pursuing this to completion." He also expressed thanks to Lafayette College for "this partnering" and said that at first they wondered why the Historical Society would want to be involved in a building with no heat, no electric, no water... The exact reasons the group wanted it!  The building dates back to the 1700's and is a part of Forks' history.  Mr. Metz concluded with, "Thank you.  Thank you.  Thank you for all you've done to consummate this deal.  Thank you."

Conventional Loan for Public Works Capital Equipment (Jim Farley, Finance Manager) - Howell explained that Forks has "undertaken a significant capital purchase of public works equipment."  Farley said that in the fall of 2007, during budget discussions, the BoS approved a tentative loan in the amount of $1 million with a term not to exceed 10 years.  This is for the replacement of capital equipment.  The equipment has a life span of 15-25 years. 

Financing ideas were discussed at the 3/17/2008 BoS meeting.  Farley now recommends a loan with a straight line even payment - which will "help keep taxes as a stable level." - High repair costs are a factor in the equipment replacement.

The steps to be followed are that the loan go out to bid, that the successful bidder be determined and the bid awarded, that an ordinance be written, and finally that State approval is solicited from the DCED (Department of Community and Economic Development). 

Nicholas asked how long the process will take and if the DPW will have to wait until next year to get the equipment?  Farley said that with Internet technology, the process will be quick and it's likely that there will be 75-100 bidders.  He will notify local banks as well.  The process could take 1-1 1/2 months.  The delivery time for the equipment is six months to one year.  The new paver will have the quickest lead time.

Kline explained that steps have to be followed and one step cannot be done until the prior step is complete.  He said that the Local Government Unit Debt Act was adopted to keep municipalities from getting into trouble.  The act requires State approval for loans.  It requires that an ordinance be adopted that includes the note and terms.  The Department of Community & Economic Development (DCED) must give its seal of approval.  He thought that it will probably be five months until until the approval from the State is received.

Egolf motioned for approval to put the loan out to bid.  Nicholas seconded.  The vote was 5:0.

For more, please see JD Malone's 4/18/08 Express Times articleMalone has all the particulars about what is to be purchased. 

Resolution #080414-1 Acceptance of Streets in Shawnee Ridge II (Karl Kline, Solicitor) - Kline said that this development is complete and that Keystone Engineering has inspected the roads.  Upon acceptance the Township will be responsible to maintain the roads - Iroquois Drive, Mohican Drive, Seneca Lane, and Old Mill Road (section C).  The roads will be submitted to the State to qualify for "liquid fuels" credit. 

There was discussion about which stop signs will stay and which will go.  Hay said that the stop sign on Indian Trail (at Old Mill) will remain.  Signs stating that "opposing traffic does not stop" are ready to install. 

The Parks & Recreation committee will address signage for the recreation trail there as well as other trails in the Township.

Egolf made the motion to accept the streets and it was seconded by Nicholas.  The vote was 5:0. 

Kline said that changes to Township signs should be included in the ordinances - to make violations enforceable.  Chief Dorney has a list which will be reviewed at the next Public Safety meeting.  Howell asked that the committee look at parking on Old Sullivan Trail near the YMCA daycare entrance through to the Richmond intersection.  The road narrows there and people are not using the available parking in the lot.

The list will be submitted to the Board after committee review and the ordinance will be authorized at that time.

Municipal Complex CCTV System Upgrades (Rick Schnaedter, Township Manager) - Schnaedter said that the Board has a thick document for their review - of suggested wishes and improvements, of the police, fire, and parks departments, to the CCTV system.  It was 1-1/2 years in the making.  Schnaedter said that the document needs a bond and insurance requirements in order to go out for bids.  Nicholas motioned that the BoS have a workshop/walking tour before the next meeting.  The motion was seconded by Egolf.  The walking tour/workshop is scheduled for 6:30 PM on May 1st.

Executive Session - Personnel Matters - The session concluded with two actions by the Board: 

  1. A Senior Crew Chief position was created in the Department of Public Works.
  2. A pay adjustment was given to the animal control officer.

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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