Sunday, June 22, 2008

BoS Meeting 6/19/08 & BoS/Recreation Board Joint Meeting

Joint Workshop

Board of Supervisors & Recreation Board - 6:00 PM

Many aspects of the Neighborhood Parks Proposal and other recreation topics were discussed including: 

  • Speeding on Penn's Ridge Boulevard.
  • PennDOT's monkey wrench that has slowed down progress on the Meco/Sullivan traffic signal - they may require extra lanes.
  • PennDOT's refusal for a four-way pedestrian crossing button at Meco/Sullivan (to stop traffic in all directions at one time). 
  • The Township-wide recreation survey that was done several years ago. 
  • A bridge to cross Sullivan Trail qualifies for State funds because it is greenway space - it will connect the recreation path to Bushkill and cross a State highway.  A grant application has not yet been written.  The estimated cost is $300,000 and a grant would pay for one half of it.
  • The Recreation Board Five Year Plan is almost complete and the Parks & Recreation Standing Committee asked to be briefed on it at their next meeting (June 26th - time to be announced see the Township Calendar- either evening or early in the AM).  Jeffrey Bader heads the Recreation Board Five Year Plan committee.
  • Gollub Park is almost ready.  Lacking are map stations, signage, picnic tables, and recycling bins. 
  • Recreation Board meetings are open to the public.  They welcome resident input. 

The Recreation Board said that it has also been working on plans for parks and that the standing committee proposal is very similar.  They have asked for time to take it back to their members to explore the similarities and differences.  They will meet again with the Supervisors to review their results - watch the Township calendar for dates and times

Read Chris Knight (Express Times) for more on the Board of Supervisors and Recreation Board joint meeting.

Regular Meeting (agenda)

Public Comments (non-agenda) - none

Supervisor Remarks

  • Supervisor Nicholas presented a special plaque to boy scout Sterling Pennington of Troop 29 for his impressive and successful Gollub Park project.  Scout Pennington is working towards his Eagle Scout badge.  He already has 31 other badges.  Slides of the work before, in progress, and completed were shown.  He thanked everyone who helped, especially Evan Benz, Nick Tarsonnelli (sic), the United Way, the Teamsters, Easton Block, and DPW Director Mark Roberts.

Nicholas also thanked Troop 29 for being very supportive of Forks Township.  She said that they camp out at Forks Community Days and help clean up afterwards. 

  • Supervisor Nicholas reported that she received a phone call from Windmill Horse Farm.  The farm wishes to have horses at Forks Community Days.  They would be penned and petting would be allowed.  Supervisor Howell noted that horses are part of our rural heritage.  Solicitor Kline said as long as the area is safe for the horses and for the people petting the horses (they may bite), and that plans are in place for cleaning up afterwards, the Board can allow them.  A motion was made to allow Windmill Farm to bring horses for Community Days.  It passed 5:0.  Nicholas will notify the farmer.

Treasurer's Report - Egolf detailed the debits (cash paid out) since the last Supervisors' meeting. The debits and transfers were approved with a 5:0 vote.  The current outstanding debt is $7,857,956.  Resident Sandy Hanks asked for clarification on the Liquid Fuels debit item and was told by Township Manager Schnaedter that it was not money for the purchase of fuel but money received by the State (based on Forks' miles of roadways) and is earmarked for roads or capital equipment.

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

  • Public Safety - Supervisor Chuss - said that the next meeting is set for July 1st at 5 PM.
  • Public Works - Supervisor Miller - reported the the new playground equipment installation is complete.  It only took one week and the end result it that "we can't pry the kids off of it."  "They love it."  
  • Parks & Recreation - Supervisor Howell - reported that there was a 6:00 PM workshop with the Recreation Board on the topic of the Neighborhood Parks Proposal.  He said it was a very positive meeting and represents an initial step - a new beginning - with the Recreation Board.  Additional meetings will be scheduled right away in order to continue to review park needs "before summer is away from us."  These open-to-the-public meetings will be listed on the Township calendar.
  • Community Relations - Supervisor Nicholas - reported that the committee discussed looking into different vendors for the Forks Quarterly.  The current edition should be "in our hands in a few days."  The committee is also gathering user opinion on the municipal phone/voicemail system.  It ill be discussed further at the next meeting.
  • Finance and Administration - Supervisor Egolf - said that the committee met on June 11th and that Matt Miller has been certified for residential building inspections.  He extended congratulations to Matt Miller.  Egolf also reported that an Economic Development Standing Committee is a "work in progress." 

Township Manager's Report - Schnaedter reported that he has spoken with colleagues from other municipalities about basketball backboards and other obstructions in the rights of way.  He said that municipality will ask that they be removed and if they are not, the public works department confiscates them.  Schnaedter said that he spoke with the police department, with staff members from public works, code enforcement, and with Solicitor Kline and recommends a similar policy for Forks - as complaints are received.  Schnaedter said that Forks already has street right-of-way language in our existing ordinance.

Schnaedter re-acquainted the Board with the 2003 feasibility study for a new public works garage.  He also said that he requested a fee schedule.

Schnaedter said too, that due to a resignation, there is a vacancy in code enforcement for a part-time clerical/reception person - who can help out in the rest of the municipal offices.  The position is for 20 hours per week and a new person would start (according to the collective bargaining contract) at 80% of the wage last paid.  (The wage will rise to 90% after one year and to 100% of the current scale after two years).  Egolf said that this person will be a help with the new document management system.  It was decided that a "temp" would not be suitable as there is much to learn to be cross-trained.  A motion was made to advertise and hire for this position.  It passed 5:0.

Schnaedter mentioned a memo about a recent problem with the Meco Road sewer.  He said that he will update the Board as more information becomes available. 

Engineer's Report - agenda items only - Howell asked about the Meco light and was told that they (Keystone) are waiting for final drawings from PennDOT.  Howell said that it was brought up by residents at the earlier joint meeting and the in intersection was cited as a popular crossing to the recreation path.  He asked that the Board be brought up to date at the next meeting or before via email.

Solicitor's Report - Kline - reported on two litigations:

  1. KMRD has filed an appeal (large file) to the Zoning Hearing Board rejection (large file) of their procedural challenge.  It will go before the Northampton County Court of Common Pleas for a decision.
  2. The ongoing substantive challenge before the Zoning Hearing Board will continue on August 4th.  "With a little bit of luck that will be the last hearing on that matter."

Kline also reported that the bond closing on the $1 million for DPW capital projects is set for July 9th. 




Forks EMS Donation Request (Erik Chuss) - Chuss asked that this item be tabled because Mr. Keifer did not get the (unapproved or approved) May EMS financial statement to the Board in time for inclusion in the Tuesday packets.  The May (approved) statement was received at the beginning of the meeting.  Howell asked that a copy be made and forwarded to Finance Manager Farley so that he can prepare a consolidated statement for the Board's review.  The motion to table and place the item on the July 3rd meeting (under unfinished business) passed unanimously.

Neighborhood Recreation Parks (Parks & Recreation Standing Committee) - This item was withdrawn because it was already discussed in the Parks & Recreation Committee report (above).

Center for Animal Health & Welfare Agreement (Rick Schnaedter) - Schnaedter reported that the main change in the revised contract before the Board is that the Township is responsible only for stray cats (and dogs) brought in by the animal control officer or by police officers.  He said that Hanover Township signed the identical contract. 

Nicholas asked if the animal control officer picks up cats and was told by Schnaedter that he does not as a rule but on occasion he does - when they are injured or perhaps attacking young kids - depending on the circumstance.  Twelve cats were picked up by the animal control officer last year.

Howell asked if an individual traps a feral cat can he still bring it in to the Center as part of the trap/spay/neuter/return program?  Schnaedter said that this is still okay and that the animal will be returned to the person who brought it in.  Resident Jim Wideman noted that the ears of feral cats are clipped by Center so that the Center and individuals know that the cat has already been through the neuter/spay program and returned to the wild. 

Howell expressed his thanks to resident Beth Adoni who brought the unsigned contract issue to the Board.  The motion to sign the amended contract passed unanimously.

Purchase Approval - Dell Laptops (Finance and Administration Committee) - Egolf explained that the Finance & Administration Committee is trying to cut back on the Township's use of paper and copying time, particularly in preparing the BoS meeting packets, and therefore has been looking into the purchase of laptops for the Supervisors.  Farley got prices for laptops - using the government account at Dell.  The price range for five Supervisors' laptops runs from $3,500 to $4,500 (Vostros with Windows XP Professional).  There will be another $500 spent in adjustments to the wiring in the Municipal Meeting Room.  Supervisors have tried using their home PCs and had problems because of the new server.  The ancillary costs are not to exceed $2,500. 

Chuss suggested that since his company is moving to VISTA that it be considered for these laptops.  Egolf said that the Dell representative does not recommend VISTA and Nicholas added that neither does the person who installed the new server.  Nevertheless, the committee will investigate the VISTA v. XP issue further before purchase.

The authorization to purchase was approved unanimously.

Award Bid - Community Center HVAC (Keystone Consulting Engineers) - There were three acceptable (per specs) bids received - for the Community Center air conditioning/heating.  The low bidder was Hannaberry HVAC at $161,040.  The other two bids were for $237,000 and $238,000.  Kline said that because the Township waived the requirement for a bid bond, each of the bidders "had an equal chance and everything is in order."

Chuss asked about the funding and Howell said that it is coming from capital improvements money from developers. 

Nicholas asked if there is a contract or just a proposal as she would like to review it.  Keystone said that it was included in the bid spec.  Kline said that the "acceptance of proposal," if tied to the bid spec, is a contract.  He will make sure the contract conforms to all of the specifications.  The vote to accept the Hannaberry HVAC bid was unanimous. 

After the vote, Miller said that the old equipment - the two heaters - are in good condition and will be perfect for the new DPW garage.  The three year old HVAC equipment from gyms #2 & #3 will also be recycled. 

Sullivan Trail Business Park Improvements - Invitation to Bid (Keystone Consulting Engineers) - Klein explained the recent history of drawing on the Sullivan Trail Business Park developer's letter of credit in order for the Township to complete the municipal improvements to the site.  He said that Keystone Engineering was preparing bid specifications for the work to be done.  Kline added that the Board also received an email from Mr. Goffredo requesting to address the Supervisors at this meeting. 

Mr. Goffredo appeared with his new counsel for this matter, Nick Noel (sic).  Goffredo told the Board that up through the April approvals for lots 5A and 5B and his appearance before the BoS at that April 3rd meeting, he thought that he had satisfied the Board and that any issues with the detention basin were being resolved by Keystone Engineering.

Goffredo said that he hoped he didn't have to go to court.  He maintained that the detention basin was constructed in accordance with the design provided by the engineer from Merchants Bank.  He added that his surveys show that the basin was constructed "within reason" of the design intent.  Goffredo said that the site contractor was Haines & Kibblehouse, Inc and that they performed the work per the plan approved by the Township.

Goffredo said that he wants to correct site deficiencies to the satisfaction of the Township and of Merchants Bank.  He asked for the opportunity to continue discussions.  He offered to replace the letter of credit in any amount the Township Engineer recommends.  He also asked that money drawn (on the letter of credit) be returned. 

When asked by Howell about the veiled threats of a lawsuit, attorney Noel replied for Goffredo and said that it is not a threat - "It's just reality."  Noel said that there was a procedural problem with the way the letter of credit was called (at the May 15 meeting) and despite Mr. Goffredo's angst, he is offering to replace the letter of credit.  Noel said that he thought that legal fees and interest can be avoided.  Howell noted that he didn't think that Mr. Goffredo wants to pay interest on the letter of credit either. 

Goffredo asked Howell why he is angry and Howell replied that it is because Merchants Bank is not getting any satisfaction.  Goffredo said that he has not received one complaint from them - and not one written notice of deficiency from Keystone on the detention pond nor anything from the Township Solicitor. Keystone's engineer said that there have been a few punch lists. 

Kline stated, "I am pleased that we finally have Mr. Goffredo's attention - in this matter with completing these municipal improvements."  He said that this is the first time in the last 22 years, save for when one developer went bankrupt, that the Township has drawn on a letter of credit from a developer.  Kline said that in all discussions since last November, it was made clear that the November letter of credit extension was going to be the last extension.

Kline added that there was no agreement in April that the Township did not want the work to be completed and that completion of the municipal improvements was a condition of the approval for lots 5A and 5B - before building permits can be granted.  At final plan approval that condition was removed by the Board because of the drawing on the letter of credit. 

Kline said that over six years, he can see no reason why the improvements have not been completed.  He added that the major concern now is the wearing course on Braden between Sullivan Trail and Merchants Bank.  The bank has been open for two years.  Kline said, too, that the detention basin is improperly installed, contains standing water, and is a health and safety concern.  He said that flow channel is flat and that there is a potential for mosquitoes and West Nile virus. 

Kline continued that because Hay was not present, it would be appropriate to table this agenda item.  Hay will be meeting with Goffredo's engineer, Jeff Ott, next week.  Kline said that he has received letters from Merchants Bank and that maybe the reason Goffredo hadn't was because he's "blown them off" with their other complaints.

Kline closed by saying that "the objective here is to provide for the health, safety, and welfare of the citizens of this community."   He said that "these things have to be done and done within a definite timetable set by the Township."  Kline said that he and Hay will be working on these things with the developer and that he will report back to the Board at the next meeting.

Goffredo said that the Township wasted money watering the newly planted trees on the site because the landscaper is bound to maintain the trees.  Howell said that he asked that the trees be watered because they were wilted and that they were planted in 95 degree weather.  Goffredo countered with, "If the tree dies, he's going replace it.  That's what his contract says." 

Nicholas said that she voted to draw on the letter of credit because she has been listening to Kline and Hay say that the punch list items are being ignored - ever since 2006.

The Board voted 5:0 to table this agenda item until July 3rd. 

Noel asked that the fees for Keystone's preparation of the bid specs be halted.  Kline agreed that this was reasonable.

Kline reminded Goffredo that the shouldn't think that the Township will give the letter of credit money back so that it can just "hope" that the work will get done.  It will not be like it was before. There will have to be deadlines before the Township will consider returning the money and getting a substitute letter of credit.

EASD Paxinosa School Addition - modify school bus access condition (Karl Kline, Solicitor) - Kline explained that "no school buses on Arndt Road" is a condition of approval for the EASD Paxinosa proposal.  The EASD objected to what looked to them to be a total prohibition of any school buses on Arndt Road.  At a meeting with the EASD, Miller, Schnaedter, and Kline the following agreement was worked out:  "Developer agrees that there shall be no Paxinosa School and Shawnee School bus traffic on Arndt Road between North Trail and Echo Trail..."  The developer is the EASD and the buses coming from the west will enter the campus via North Trail and those coming from the east will use Echo Trail.

A motion was made and seconded to accept the revision to the conditions.

Egolf asked about school buses on Mitman Road to Wagoner.  Egolf said that Mitman is not designed for school buses and that there will be a serious accident one day on that hill and that there is a near miss there daily.  Kline said that it was discussed but the school does not think it's a problem.  Egolf said that in his capacity on the transportation sub-committee for the Comprehensive Plan, he learned that the original agreement (for Shawnee) was that the buses would use Bushkill Drive to Arndt Road.  He added, "We are on borrowed time on that hill and the school district knows it."

Kline suggested sending a letter to the EASD urging them to cease using Mitman.  He said that this is the time of year they are working out the bus routes for the new school year.  Egolf again stressed the seriousness of the Mitman Road route and said that he couldn't believe that they were concerning themselves with 40 buses passing on a stretch of Arndt Road instead of with the Mitman Road safety issue.

Miller said he agreed 100% and that when Shawnee Middle School was being discussed, the school brought up bus routes and said that there were to be no buses on Arndt Road.  Chuss said that he recalls that buses on Mitman were absolutely discussed (Planning Commission) and that representatives from the district said that buses would not use Mitman Road - although, he added that there is no EASD commitment in the documents.

Nicholas said that she was at the meeting and EASD said that they would not use Mitman Road but would use Bushkill to Arndt.  She added that school buses cannot stay on their own side of the road to navigate the curves on Mitman.  

A vote was taken on the acceptance of the revision to the conditions for bus traffic on Arndt.  It passed unanimously.

Next, Howell suggested that the BoS form a very strong resolution about buses on Mitman and that the resolution be placed on the next BoS agenda.  A motion that Kline craft a resolution in the strongest terms to induce the abandonment of Mitman as a bus route and to have the buses use Bushkill to Arndt was made and seconded. 

Former Supervisor John Ackerman suggested that it include the words "trucks and buses are prohibited from that stretch."  Kline noted that State standards for weight and safety must be followed before traffic can be limited on any road. 

The vote authorizing a resolution was 5:0.

Another motion, to authorize Keystone to review Mitman from Bushkill to Wagoner - to examine the road, the curves, the incline, the width, etc. with recommendations for restrictions for purposes of safety - passed 5:0.

For more on school buses on Mitman Road read Madeleine Mathias (Morning Call).

Comprehensive Plan Discussion (Erik Chuss) - The BoS received their copies of the draft Comprehensive Plan in their Tuesday packets.  Email sent by Schnaedter advising each Supervisor that the copies were in the Municipal Building never made it to them as their email has not been working. 

Chuss said that he was impressed by Mr. Schmehl's work and that he reviewed the new draft.  He said that the changes are marked and it only took him about 45 minutes to review them.  He said he also took another 45 minutes to go through the entire plan again.

He recommended that it be forwarded as soon as possible to the Lehigh Valley Planning Commission for comment(s) - a review process that can take up to 45 days.  

Chuss also suggested a joint meeting with the PC to review the draft.  And, when Howell said that he would like a generous amount of time to review the draft and to see if his comments are in it, and if not, an opportunity to submit his comments, Chuss called it a "stall tactic on this Comprehensive Plan."  Chuss said, "I think you owe it to the people who have invested a tremendous amount of time and done a fantastic job, to move this along as expeditiously as possible."  He said that the changes are noted and that if anyone had a comment, they should have saved them.  He added that he saved his and looked to see if they were in the plan.

Howell asked if Nicholas' comments were in the plan and Chuss said that they are.  Howell said that he has been making comments all along and that they are written. 

Ackerman said that each committee member should get a copy so that they can read it and see if they have changes.  He said that he would like a copy to review. 

It was also suggested that the draft plan be uploaded to the Township website for public review. 

Chuss' motion to send the draft to the LVPC died for lack of a second.

Chuss' made a second motion, to hold a joint BoS/PC workshop at the end of the regular PC meeting on July 10th to review the draft Comprehensive Plan and then to place the plan on the July 17th BoS agenda.

Howell asked that copies of the sections be made available to the sub-committee members.

Egolf suggested that email notification to the sub-committee members be sent asking them to request a copy of their section so that it can be prepared for them to pick-up.  He said that he thinks everyone should be notified that the latest version is available. 

Dean Turner (PC Chairman) asked what the purpose of the workshop will be?  Howell said that it was just as Chuss' motion stated, to review the draft Comprehensive Plan.  Chuss suggested that submitting comments in advance might be helpful.

The motion to have a joint meeting at the end of the regular PC meeting on July 10 and to add the Comprehensive Plan to the July 17 agenda passed 5:0.

Chuss noted that if the Comprehensive Plan goes until August before the Board votes on it, the soonest it can be enacted is fourth quarter 2008.

Stryker Brigade Combat Team - Developers Agreements - (Karl Kline, Solicitor) - Kline said that the developer's agreements are in order but unlike most, the Township signs these first.  The State signs second.  The agreements were accepted in a 5:0 vote.  Kline noted that there will be a pre-construction meeting on Wednesday at 9 AM.

Executive Session - 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.


lehighguy said...

Guys you need o listen to your residents. If they ask for a pool, and basketball courts than that is what you should try to do. If we need to do some basketball courts now, and save money for the pool we understand that but do not take a survey and not use the info. That is a waist of time and money.

Please answer one question for me why did the recreation board deny the Township girls allstar teams from using our shorts?? From what I heard it was going to be too much wear and tear? We are only talking three games!! Lets get real here!! The softball commisioner moved the games from Palmer to Forks to bring money to the township, muck like the allstar game on fathers day did. We are only asking for 30 pairs of shorts for three games. What is the problem. Lets not forget that over 1000 people will be here for the entire weekend next week spending money in Forks Township. Not to even mention how many parking tickets the police department will hand out again for parking on the grass, where the only sign that says "No Parking on the Grass" is posted in front of the split rail fence which is a spot where it is impossible to park on the grass.
Lets get our heads out of our you know where, and do what is asked of you as elected officials buy the residents.

It's a FAC said...

Thank you for posting to the F.A.C. blog lehighguy.  F.A.C. is not affiliated with Forks Township's government.  And, in case none of the Forks officials who can help you, actually read this blog, we suggest that you address your concerns to them directly.  Here's some e-mail contact information (from the official Forks Township website)that may be helpful: 
Rick Schnaedter ( - Township Manager
Don Miller ( - Community Center Coordinator
Carl Scerbo ( - Recreation Board Chairman. 

Good luck!