Friday, October 31, 2008

BoS Meeting Notes - 10/16/2008

Regular Meeting (agenda)

Much of this night's meeting was devoted to discussion of the Forks/Suburban EMS situation.  It ended with the unexpected - the assigning of both BLS (basic life support) and ALS (advanced life support) services to Suburban EMS. 

Please read Christopher Baxter (Morning Call) for more and if you can get hold of the October 17, 2008  Express Times, you can read Tony Nauroth's thorough front page article (it is not online).  Also, see David Billings' Everything Forks blog for  another viewpoint.

(Special note:  According to an October 21st Morning Call article by Christopher Baxter, Forks EMS has closed its doors.)

Public Comments (non-agenda) - None

Supervisor Remarks: 

Supervisor Nicholas thanked Sue and Harry Bennett, who were both present, for the great job they did on Forks Community Days.  Applause.

Supervisor Miller said that the Recreation Board has completed its five year plan, which, he said, reflects the comments of the people in the Township (from the Recreation Survey of October 2006.)  He gave copies to the Supervisors this evening for their review.  It will be discussed at a 7:00 PM workshop prior to the November 6th BoS meeting.  Township Manager Schnaedter was directed to put it on the website calendar. 

Chairman Howell thanked Zoning Officer Weis, Township Manager Schnaedter, and staff for organizing the breakfast with Township business leaders - 15-16 were there as were all of the Supervisors. The program was about what's going on in the Township and "where would we like to go from here."   Howell said that there was a great deal of encouragement from the business community.  He said that some of those present were also members of a "business council" in Palmer Township and that meetings like this create a good working relationship - without the Township actually being a part of the council.  It is a partnership on the sharing of ideas about the environment and the business community.  The Finance & Administration Committee, along with Schnaedter will work on a format to carry to the next meeting.  Howell added that this is a good step towards setting up a long lasting relationship to share ideas and information.

Supervisor Chuss noted that the last such meeting was held nearly 10 years ago and "then it died."  He expressed hope that the meetings will continue.

Chuss then took issue with what appeared in a recent newspaper article (Express Times, October 16) about a possible land donation by KMRD to the EASD.  The article stated that the Forks Township Board of Supervisors expressed a willingness to negotiate with KMRD.  Chuss said, "I want to go on the record and make it clear, I am not willing to sit down with them unless something came up that indicated the situation has changed and I don't even know what that would be."  Chuss explained that the lawsuit to change Forks' zoning for KMRD's "extraordinary" development proposal has cost the Township tens of thousands of dollars in legal fees and he thought the suit may even be found to be "frivolous."

Howell clarified that there was a "fallacious misstatement by a reporter."   He said that both he and Supervisor Egolf attended the public (EASD Facilities Utilization Committee) meeting as citizens.  They had learned that there had been private meetings between school board representatives and KMRD where KMRD attorneys asked the school board what they could do to help with the district's needs.  Number of acres and possibly locations were discussed.  Howell said that when he learned of these (private) meetings, he was "incensed." 

Howell said that he followed up and attended the public meeting because he had learned about the other meetings and what was going on behind the Township's back from a member of the Forks Planning Commission who is also a member of the (EASD Facilities Utilization) committee.  He said that he sent email to all the Supervisors asking if they would want to attend (the public meeting on October 15th) and only Egolf responded.  They went together because "you don't go to these meetings alone."  Howell said that even then, what he told the reporter was "grossly, grossly misstated." 

Howell said that he told the reporter that the meeting did not meet his "smell test" - that it (1) came "outside the sunshine" and (2) that it was a step to intervene in the ongoing litigation and in a sense "to force a settlement."  There were other Forks residents present as well as another reporter (Morning Call) who didn't report it that way.  Howell said that he was there as a citizen to find out what was going on and not there representing the Board of Supervisors.  He told Chuss that if he had questions, he should have called him. 

Howell noted too, that when the school board representatives realized that others knew of their conversation with KMRD, the issue was immediately moved to the committee - to make it public.  The night selected was the night of a Presidential debate - a night that possibly no one would attend.  And, when the newspaper reporters called KMRD the day of the meeting for comment, KMRD cancelled its scheduled appearance/presentation.  Howell said that he thinks "the flame is out." 

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 Township's current outstanding debt is $7,786,440.

Former Supervisor Morris Metz commented that he could hear Mr. Egolf because he used his microphone.  He encouraged the rest of the BoS to use their microphones so that he could hear every word said.

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

  • Public Safety - Supervisor Chuss - reported that the committee met on October 7th.  He noted that the Police Department accreditation process mock assessment was conducted with only a few minor issues cited and that the whole assessment is scheduled for October 27th.  Modular furniture was discussed - no update.  Chuss said that the footers for the emergency services tower have been poured and that the foundation is being poured.  The structure erection should begin shortly.   He also said that the Fire Department agreement with Stockertown expires at year end and will be under review at the next committee meeting.  Chuss noted too, that Forks EMS (FEMS) did not attend the last meeting.  Suburban attended and updated the committee on the financial obligations of FEMS.  And, Chuss said that a suggestion was made to discuss NIMS compliance with a review of addressing housing in the case of a large emergency - like the latest hurricane to hit Louisiana and Texas.
  • Public Works - Supervisor Miller - reported that he was not at the this week's committee meeting.  DPW Director Roberts reported that the budget was discussed.  Leaf collection starts today.  Howell inquired as to the number of shredders and where the shredded materials will be stored.  Roberts said that Forks has three shredders and that the shredded leaves are dumped at Newlins and Richmond Roads.
  • Parks & Recreation - Supervisor Howell - noted that there will be a Board of Supervisors (public) workshop on November 6th at 7 PM - before the regular meeting - to review the Recreation Board Five Year Plan.
  • Community Relations - Supervisor Nicholas - reported that because of the holiday there was no meeting since the last BoS meeting and that the next is scheduled for November 10th at 6 PM.
  • Finance and Administration - Supervisor Egolf - said that the committee met on October 8th and that staff is in the process of preparing the new budget.  Egolf also presented the Board with samples of new Township letterhead which he noted can be changed with a "keystroke."  In the past, letterhead could not be changed without ending up with reams of unusable paper.  The new letterhead contains the names of all the Supervisors and that of the Township Manager.  Both Nicholas and Howell said that they like it.  The next meeting is October 22nd. 

Township Manager's Report - Schnaedter said that last year's Kiwanis Christmas tree lighting ceremony was cancelled because of inclement weather.  He said that the ceremonies have been well attended and that last year the Kiwanis collected stuffed animals for the Police Department "to hand out to children involved in tragic situations."  Schnaedter said that he received an email asking if the Township would consider helping the Kiwanis with the rental (from the City of Easton) of a large, portable bandshell.  The Kiwanis took a financial hit last year and had no donations to offset it.  Nicholas offered that the bandshell rented for Forks Community Days cost $175 (delivered).  Howell noted that Forks is the venue for these events and that money from the recreation fund could be used.  The Township hopes to have its own bandshell next year and has applied for a grant for it.  A motion was made by Chuss to donate $175 for the Kiwanis' bandshell rental.  Egolf seconded and the motion passed 5:0.

Engineer's Report - Hay - reported that the bids were received for the Sullivan Trail Business Park road paving.  The low bidder is J C Sons Excavating at $30,962.  Hay said that he received a copy of a letter from Muschlitz Excavating to Mr. Goffredo stating that they will start the paving the week of November 3rd.  The Board discussed tabling the bid award until the next meeting on November 6th and if the work hasn't been done, giving the contract to J C Sons. 

Solicitor Kline explained that the Board was told by the developer (Goffredo) that the paver would be available to do the work on September 6th.  At the time, the Township said "fine" but agreed to proceed with getting bids just in case.  The paving has not been done and bids have been received.  Asphalt plants close for the winter and the new contractor must have time to get the work scheduled before the season ends.  In addition to the portion of Braden Boulevard leading to Merchants National Bank, there are areas leading to Scott's Collision Center that must be repaired as well. 

Kline suggested that the Board award the contract to the low bidder with the understanding that it is only awarded if Goffredo doesn't pave the roadway first.  Hay will explain the condition to the contractor.  Nicholas' motioned that if the work is not done by the 7th of November the developer's excavator shall not be allowed to do the work (after the 7th) and instead the new contractor will do the paving on the 10th.  Egolf seconded and the motion passed 5:0.

Egolf asked Hay if there was any word on the Meco/Sullivan traffic light.  Hay said that he has heard nothing and that it is in "PennDOT limbo."  Hay said too, that PennDOT treats municipalities worse than they treat developers.  Howell speculated that if the Township police did breathalyzer tests there every morning at rush hour it would draw attention to the intersection and would show PennDOT that it is serious.  Howell then suggested that communications with PennDOT be copied to Representatives Grucela, Wonderling, and Freeman. 

Egolf added that at the last BoS meeting payment was approved for work done in preparation for the light and that even though the light is not there, it has cost the Township money.  Egolf said that it is important that our Legislators know that the Township is "out of pocket a lot of money in studies, in engineering fees... " and needs accountability from PennDOT. 

Solicitor's Report - Kline - reported that he received communication from Alan McFall of the EAJSA (Easton Area Joint Sewer Authority) regarding a portion of the Adamson Street sewer line in West Easton - a common use line - that was not included.  Included lines mean shared costs.  Forks EAJSA representative, Henning Holmgaard, advises that it should be included.  All member municipalities must approve adding the line.  Kline will prepare the necessary paperwork for BoS approval.


Emergency Ambulance Service Discussion (Erik Chuss) - Notes from this nearly two hour discussion will follow later.  Until then, please read Christopher Baxter (Morning Call) and if you can get hold of the October 17, 2008  Express Times, you can read Tony Nauroth's thorough front page article (it is not online).  Do read Tony Nauroth's Express Times short version advising Forks residents not to send subscription money to Forks EMS.  Also, see David Billings' Everything Forks blog for another viewpoint.  FAC posted a summary of which service to send subscription dollars to on this blog and on its website.

(Special note:  According to an October 21st Morning Call article by Christopher Baxter, Forks EMS has closed its doors.)


Resolution for one street light / Riverview Estates – Ramblewood Dr. & Road A - (Karl Kline, Solicitor) - Hay recommended that this be tabled because he knows nothing about it (yet).  It was tabled.

Henningsen Cold Storage/Conditional Use (Karl Kline, Solicitor) - Kline said that this was the written decision by the Board approving the conditional use application of Henningsen Cold Storage (at the 10/2/08 BoS meeting).  It passed 5:0.

Meyner Center/Proposal  (Rick Schnaedter, Township Manager) - Schnaedter said that as a result of discussions of the Finance & Administration Committee regarding performance evaluations and goal setting, the committee met with a representative from Lafayette College's Meyner Center.  A seminar proposal is the result.  The "goals, roles, and expectations" seminar, to be conducted by the Meyner Center, will include the BoS and staff.  The tentative date is January 24, 2009 and the cost will be billed at $65/hour with a not-to-exceed amount of $1,000.  Nicholas, in discussion, said that she thinks "this a really good thing" and that the staff is enthusiastic.  Egolf posed the motion and Nicholas seconded.  The vote was 5:0.

Executive Session - There was an executive session on a personnel matter.  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.

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