Sunday, July 20, 2008

BoS 7/17/08

Regular Meeting (agenda)

The severe thunderstorm did not stop the Forks Board of Supervisors (BoS) from meeting.  In fact, the Municipal Complex generators were field tested and they do indeed work!  As expected, the EMS (emergency service) discussion and resulting decision took up the lion's share of the evening agenda.  For more on the EMS issue read Tony Nauroth (Express Times) and Madeleine Mathias (Morning Call).

Public Comments (non-agenda) - Tony Nauroth of the Express Times introduced himself and said that the will be "covering Forks Township for... ever." 

Supervisor Remarks:

  • Supervisor Howell said that the Board received a very nice letter from Judge Freedberg regarding the Board's Resolution honoring him (at the last meeting) on his appointment to the PA Superior Court.  Howell said that he's sure that Judge Freedberg, a Forks resident, will still be available to swear-in future Forks Supervisors. 
  • Supervisor Chuss noted that there were no copies of the three firefighter bills that are before the PA legislature in the Supervisors' meeting packets. Township Manager Schnaedter will get copies for the next meeting and endorsement of the bills will be an agenda item at that meeting.  Nicholas requested that if the bills are lengthy that they be sent to the Supervisors earlier than 8 PM on the Tuesday before the meeting.

Treasurer's Report - In the absence of vacationing Treasurer Egolf, Supervisor Miller detailed the debits (cash paid out) since the last Supervisors' meeting. The debits and transfers were approved with a 4:0 vote.  Miller said that the Township's current outstanding debt is $7,840,041.

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 has not met since the last BoS meeting.  He said that both the Express Times and the Morning Call wrote about the "Slow Down" signs and that there has been a positive initial response.  Within three days of the articles, 51 of the 100 signs were distributed.  Chuss added that the police will also be taking "other measures to control speeding in the Township."  The signs are going fast - so far, added Howell, 70 signs are out.  Howell mentioned that there was a letter to the editor from a Forks resident regarding the signs and that the $600 cost for the signs came out of the Police Department publication budget.  Howell said that he feels they are a great benefit to the community and he encouraged all those who want one to fill out the short application at the police department.
  • Public Works - Supervisor Miller - said that the committee met last week.  He updated the assembly on current topics of discussion including:
    • Patching Township roadways as needed.
    • Curbside weed control program.
    • Preparing, grading, paving, road bank mowing, and cleaning catch basins (as needed).
    • Street lights as needed.
    • Repair and maintenance on all DPW trucks.
    • Work on Forks Elementary School ball fields.
    • Widening of the Community Center main parking lot.
    • General cleanup around the Township.
    • Watering trees.
    • Cleaned the springhouse grounds.
    • Assisted the Police Department in the furniture removal.
    • 73' ft of the Meco Road failing sewer main repaired.
  • Parks & Recreation - Supervisor Howell - said that there was no meeting since the last Supervisors' meeting and therefore no report.
  • Community Relations - Supervisor Nicholas - said that they met on Monday and reviewed the Forks Quarterly to be sure that articles will be submitted on time and that the next issue will be in time for Forks Community Days.  Nicholas said too, that the committee discussed the "answering system" and are looking into making it better.  Also being explored is some kind of information booth at Forks Community Days.
  • Finance and Administration - Supervisor Egolf - absent - Finance Manager Farley said that there was a meeting to discuss ongoing issues.  No report.

Township Manager's Report - Schnaedter reported that he, Chief Dorney, and Miller met with two representatives form the school district's transportation department.  The district maintains that the high number of buses on Mitman Road was due to school construction and that in the future bus use of Mitman will be reduced by 50% - in the afternoons during the school year.  They told the Township that that is all they can do based on schedules.  Nicholas asked why just the afternoons since the mornings are also a critical time - that's when everyone is going to work.  Miller said that the school district representatives allege that their hands are tied by school schedules (getting from one school to another) and that they must use Mitman.  The times that school starts are set by teacher contracts.  Nicholas said that it will be worthwhile to look into this because the safety and welfare of the kids are what's under discussion and the schedules seem a "little bit too tight for safety reasons."  Their job is to deliver the children safely to the schools and home again. She suggested that the school district be called and that someone else be found to talk to about this.

Schnaedter also reported that he attended the Two Rivers Council of Governments (TRCOGS) meeting last night where the yard waste assessment study was discussed.  He will provide the Board with copies of their findings.  Schnaedter said that the TRCOGS is looking at a regional recycling program for yard waste. 

Engineer's Report - Hay - reported that the agreements for the Community Center HVAC contract will go out tomorrow.

Solicitor's Report - Kline - reported that the Strausser arbitration has been decided in favor of the Township to the tune of $64,483.45.  Strausser has 60 days from June 10th to make the payment.  And, in addition to that, Strausser is required to replace the balances in certain accounts.  Kline said that if he does not make the payments, he will be asking for permission to sue Strausser - once again.

Kline also reported that he, along with Hay and Keystone staff have been working "quite extensively" with Goffredo's engineer, Jeff Ott, regarding the municipal improvements to Sullivan Trail Business Park.  Kline said that he put together a resolution and circulated it to the BoS and to Goffredo's attorney.  Kline requested that this be added to the agenda under old business.  He said that because of delays getting information, he was not able to get the resolution to the BoS in time for inclusion in their packets.


Levi Matyus Eagle Scout Project - Lions Park at Bushkill Drive (Don Miller, Supervisor) - This agenda item has been rescheduled because Levi Matyus was unable to be at tonight's meeting.  He is working with Miller on a project at Lion's Park.  Howell said that he and Miller met with Matyus, his father, and public works and worked out what has been done so far.  This is a work in progress and Levi Matyus needed an approval (but not a BoS action) so that he could go to next step.  Howell said that Matyus was given tacit approval.

Resolution 081717-1 - Sullivan Trail Business Park Improvements - (Karl Kline, Solicitor) -  Kline paraphrased Resolution 080717-1, a draft of which was sent by email to the Board before tonight's meeting.  He said that on 8/2/2001 the Sullivan Trail Business Park was granted conditional final plan approval for the subdivision.  On 8/1/2002 the subdivision preliminary agreement was executed.  That agreement stipulated that all the site's municipal improvements must be completed within two years of the issuance of the first building permit - that first permit was issued on 10/24/2005.  At this time, all but two lots are sold and the Weis Market construction will be starting next spring.  The municipal improvements which were to be finished by 10/24/2007, are not completed.

Kline said that because of deficient conditions and after numerous meetings with the developer, Goffredo, and staff, the Township authorized drawing on the developer's letter of credit.  Those drawn funds ($179,866.74) were put in a separate, interest bearing account.  The Township then began work on the deficiencies.  The developer has since requested to complete the improvements himself. 

The Resolution states that the Board is willing to give the developer "one final opportunity" to do that, per terms set forth in the Resolution.  The developer must: 

  • fully complete the detention pond (as described in Exhibit A - prepared after extensive discussion between the Township engineer and the developer's engineer, Jeff Ott)
  • fully complete the (Keystone Consulting Engineers) punch list (as described in Exhibit B)
  • install the wearing course on Braden Boulevard from Sullivan Trail to the western edge of Ian - to accommodate the traffic to/from Merchants National Bank.  (The entire business park paving is not to be done at this time because of future construction.) 

All punch list items must be completed by Labor Day (9/1/2008).  Also, a new irrevocable letter of credit (for $189,000 which includes a 15% maintenance security) must be in place by September 1 and be valid for no less than one year.  The new letter of credit is the amount expected to be needed to complete the balance of the paving. 

If everything is completed by Labor Day, the Township will give back the original letter of credit drawn funds ($179,866.74) plus any accrued interest.  If all the work is not done, the deal is off and the Township will use those funds to get the work done.

Nicholas asked Farley how much taxpayer money the Township has already spent on the extra time for the solicitor and engineer.  Farley said he didn't know but could do an analysis of the time spent.  Nicholas said that she would like to know and that she didn't think that taxpayers should have to pay for this work.  Kline explained that there are certain things in which the Township must engage as a "cost of doing business" and that a developer's money cannot be used to pay for enforcement actions against a developer but only for actually getting the work done.  For example, the Township cannot use Strausser's money to sue Strausser. 

Kline said, too, that the developer can get the work done without paying prevailing wages but the Township cannot.  In order to do the work, the Township must draw up specs and go out for bids.  This costs money.  And, he added, that the Township must insist that developer must get 100% of the work done as "time has run out." 

Chuss made a motion to approve the resolution.  It was seconded by Miller.

In discussion, the attorney for the developer, Nick Noel (sic), said that he received the Resolution this afternoon and is in agreement with the overall goal and the concept and, he said, the developer intends to meet the deadline.  However, he does not agree with all the "whereas language."  He said that it is "opinion and hyperbole."  Noel added that he does not agree with the history (as recounted by Kline and contained in the Resolution) either.  But, he noted that the figures seem in the ballpark although he and his client have not seen the calculation.  Hay said that the 2001 numbers were revised with 2008 prices plus 15%.  Noel said that he had not received the two attachments (Exhibits A & B) noted in the Resolution.  Kline gave him copies.  Hay said that no items were added to the punch list (Exhibit B).

By way of clarification, Noel said that he assumed the 9/1 date, as long as the work is done and is accepted by the Township enginee, triggers the maintenance agreement (with the Township).  Kline said that he was correct and at that point in time, everything except the last wearing course should be completed.  When asked about sewers, Hay said that they have been in so long, they are not a problem and are not an alleged delay to paving.  Kline said that the bone of contention is the repair to the detention pond. 

Goffredo addressed the Board and stated that the "whereas and history are rather far from accurate."  He said that the Weis property was conveyed over a year ago and that the perception that so much is yet to be done is unfair.  It is clear that for the last two years he has been stymied from completing the improvements - except the detention basin.  Goffredo added that "the changes that we have embraced today are clearly constructive changes..."  He said that he will try to get the contractor to accept the changes but "if I have to throw money at it do get it done..."  Goffredo said that he would like to see the numbers, as he may adjust them up or down, and he will get together with Hay's office (for that purpose.)  He added that he would like to have the letter of credit prior to 9/1/2008 so that there is no question and it is not an issue. 

The vote on the motion was 3:1 with Nicholas voting nay and stating that the numbers stay the same.  Kline said that this is not a negotiation and that the numbers are a reasonable estimate by the Township Engineer and the Resolution  stands as it is. 

Discussion of EMS Services & Designation of Forks Township EMS Providers - (Erik Chuss, Public Safety Committee) - Please read Tony Nauroth (Express Times) and Madeleine Mathias (Morning Call) for coverage of this 2 hour discussion. 


Authorization for the purchase of Police "interim evidence locker" (Erik Chuss, Supervisor) - Chuss explained that the Police Department (PD) modular furniture bid came in under budget.  The installation is not complete.  Phase 1 is done and phase 2 will be completed after the PD re-accreditation in September.  Schnaedter said that of the $46,163 budgeted and approved for the furniture, $44,013 is allocated.  (Update 8/10/08:  According to Chuss at the 8/7/08 BoS meeting, this figure includes the evidence locker purchase.) Chuss said that he looked at the locked cabinets that are currently being used.  They become filled.  An evidence locker would allow the evidence to go directly into the evidence room and not into a cabinet in the wall. Installation would not be a problem.  Chuss made a motion that the remaining furniture budget be used for the evidence locker and that the contract be given to Diversified Storage Solutions for $6,912.87.  Nicholas seconded and the motion passed 4:0.

Fire Company Contribution Agreement (Karl Kline, Solicitor) -  Kline explained the agreement:  The Volunteer Fire Company of Forks Township agrees to pay $25,000 to the Township in 2008 and $15,000 per year from 2009-2018.  This money is to be placed in the Township general fund.  In turn, the Township agrees to place an amount greater than or equal to the Fire Co. contribution as a yearly budget amount in the Fire Replacement Fund account.  Kline noted that to act responsibly, it is likely the Township will set aside more than that amount.  Also, the Township, as owner of the assets (the equipment) also agrees to maintain standard owners liability insurance and to hold the Fire Company harmless for equipment purchases.  In the future, the agreement can only be modified in writing and must be signed by both parties.  Kline said that he spoke with Farley about it and that Farley said that it meets the auditors' requirements.  The agreement represents a $175,000 commitment from the Volunteer Fire Company to the Township.

Nicholas said that she did not understand why the agreement contains language that the Township budget at least that amount since the Township always puts aside more than that.  Kline explained that since the money is going into the general fund, the Fire Company simply wants to be assured that at least that amount of money will be available in the future. 

Nicholas asked that the language be changed from "Fire Replacement Fund" to account #411.700, Capital Purchases - the general ledger account associated with the Fire Replacement Fund.  After more discussion everyone was okay with that change and the agreement was passed in a 4:0 vote.

Establish Ad Hoc Comprehensive Plan Review Committee (C. David Howell) - Howell said that at the joint workshop with the Planning Commission (PC) there was a consensus to establish an ad hoc committee to review the current Comprehensive Plan draft and submit suggested changes to Urban Research & Development Corporation (URDC).  The resultant draft will be subject to both PC and BoS approvals. 

The composition of the ad hoc committee will be two members from the PC (the chair being one) and two members from the BoS (again, the chair is one).  There will also be an alternate from each board.  Howell motioned to establish the six member committee consisting of four voting members and two alternates.  It was seconded by Nicholas. 

In discussion, Chuss reiterated his objection, made first at the workshop, to the "subcommittee" and said that it is his feeling that an expert was hired to guide the formation of the Plan and that same expert has been defending Forks Township for the last 18 months in the KMRD hearings.  Chuss added that there were 30 to 40 residents involved in the Plan as well. 

Chuss said that he objects to a four person committee re-doing the expert's work.  He said that for his money, he'd take the Plan that Mr. Schmehl wrote and not the one that will come out of the non-expert committee.  Chuss called this a "recipe for disaster... when people start questioning the experts..."  He said that he does not want to be part of the committee nor does he want to support it in any way.

Nicholas said that it is not her intention, nor anyone else's on the BoS, to prevent Charlie Schmehl from fixing/writing the Plan.  She said that the committee will just "guide him through it."  She added that she thought "Charlie was trying to accommodate a lot of people with a lot of things."  Nicholas said that there are things in the Plan that she does not want in there - referring to "dog poop."  She said too, that Mr. Schmehl has written very good Plans for other municipalities and she wants this one to be one she can be proud of. 

Howell said that he has visited the City of Bethlehem's website and that it has an interesting Comprehensive Plan survey to gather public comment.  He said that there will be an enormous amount of public input and that URDC is doing Bethlehem's Plan. 

Chuss suggested that the chairmen of the BoS and PC not be involved in the ad hoc committee.  To that Howell noted that it is hard to take a suggestion from him when he's condemned the entire process. 

Resident Sandy Hanks said that she was at all the Comp Plan meetings and kept hearing Mr. Schmehl say that he could put in anything up until the last day.  She said that he really took it to heart and put in every comment.  Ms. Hanks added that there were a few (items) she knew of that she didn't think should be included.

PC Chairman Dean Turner said that discussion of the structure of the ad hoc committee has always included the two chairmen - then two others and two alternates. 

Howell said that he has already received an email from a resident who wanted to know where to send his eight or nine "bullet points."

Miller added that he was at the workshop and it was agreed that the chairmen of both Boards were to be on the ad hoc committee.

The vote to authorize the formation of the committee was 3:1.  Chuss cast the nay vote.

Egolf (absent) notified Howell via email that he would like to be on the committee.  Nicholas volunteered to be the alternate. 

Dean Turner (PC) informed the BoS that Vito Tamborrino and David Billings are the PC volunteers.  (FAC has since learned that Tamborrino will be the primary member and Billings will be the alternate.)

Howell said that he and Turner will meet informally to set up the plan/schedule.  The BoS and PC will be advised of when the first meeting will be held.

Executive Session - An executive session was held to discuss a potential litigation.  No action was taken during or 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.

Sunday, July 13, 2008

A Class Act! - PC/BoS Joint Workshop - 7/10/08

The Forks Planning Commission (PC) showed that it's a "class act" at the joint meeting with the Supervisors on July 10th.  The meeting was set to review the latest draft Comprehensive Plan - a plan that has been in the PC's lap since the first discussions in October 2006.  Instead of being protective of the draft Plan they crafted and insisting that the latest draft is it, a finished Comprehensive Plan, the planners embraced the reasons for additional work. 

At the beginning of the joint workshop, Supervisor Howell explained that he was speaking only for himself and that he wants the new Comprehensive Plan to be the best plan it can be.  He said that the 1997 Comprehensive Plan did not serve the Township well.  And, he pointed out the 800 pound gorilla in the room - the lawsuits.  He said that the new draft is not yet the guide he was looking for.  In particular he didn't see that the Plan really preserved farmland and did not encourage agri-business.  He told the group that he wants to see a Plan that addresses the future and that clearly defines what Forks is and what "we want Forks to look like." 

Howell said that the Plan must give guidance to the Supervisors and Planners of the future.  He said that he and Supervisor Egolf looked at lots of other municipal comp plans and when they found the Lehigh Valley Planning Commission's Comprehensive Plan, they knew they'd read a winner.  In terms of Forks' draft, Howell said that it needs reshaping and additional parts.  For example, there is no environmental program - it does not deal with solar panels or serve the "green" nature of Forks residents.  It has no provisions for an EAC, conservancies, or shade tree commissions.  Howell felt too, that the recreation section needs refinement and some corrections.  In all, he thought the draft Plan lacked "textural format and flow" and was, in essence, a narrative without substance. 

Planner Tamborrino asked Turner (PC Chair) how he thought the PC should (re)look at the Plan and what the procedure should be.  Tamborrino said that "it should be done deal when it's done." Turner said that the "macro" specifics need to become "micro" ones.


  • Planner Billings offered that the Plan needs a definite direction.  He recommended that the PC make the changes and then make the recommendations to the BoS.
  • Planner Castrovinci thought that the organization of the Plan was bad.
  • Supervisor Egolf said that the group should go back to URDC's original proposal.  He thought that the draft Plan could apply to any community in the country.  He said that the Plan's strength was its action plan and that instead of being at the end, it should be in the front and prioritized.  Egolf said that the Plan needs to be a usable and strong document much like the LVPC Plan. He felt that a smaller ad hoc committee should be formed.  The committee should use the LVPC Plan as a model.
  • Tamborrino offered that the shortcomings of the draft Plan may be a result of the committees because each committee wanted their work included and it brought in too much detail.  Solicitor Kline said that URDC had to deal with the committee's "pride of ownership."
  • Supervisor Nicholas said that the draft Plan contains too much detail and will be outdated in a year.  It should be a comprehensive plan and not a detailed document.  She felt that it is not yet "professional" and needs structure and format.  Nicholas added that the work done by the committees, although too detailed for the Comp Plan, belongs in five year plans and should be used.
  • Supervisor Miller said that he agreed with almost 100% of what has been said.  He added that the results from PC's bike path meeting a few weeks ago do not reflect what the Township has.  He thought too, that the new work should be done by smaller groups and that input from the Recreation Board and Athletic Association should be sought. 
  • Supervisor Chuss asked if he was "the only one who sees that the king is not wearing clothes?"  He said that "we need to put a stake in the ground and start the process."  And, he added that the Plan is what Zoning and SALDO (Subdivision and Land Development Ordinance) are based on.  Nicholas asked him why the BoS should throw another document out there that will be used against the Township in a suit.
  • Resident Jim Wideman said that the draft Plan is inconsistent with the KMRD lawsuit defense and that there are references in the draft Plan to farmland as "undeveloped" land.
  • Turner offered that 10 years is too long to wait for another re-do of the Plan and that it is a living document and should updated frequently.
  • Planner Dicker said that the PC should "put out a polished document."

The result of the night's workshop is that a committee consisting of two Planners and two Supervisors will be formed to re-work the draft Plan.  Both chairmen, Howell and Turner, will be on the committee.  An alternate from each body will also be chosen.  Of the PC members, both Billings and Tamborrino volunteered.  One will be primary and one will be the alternate.  The BoS will make their selections for the other member and alternate at its meeting on July 17th.

Public input can be sent via email to either Howell or Turner.  The meetings will be on the Township website calendar.

Aside:  This was a cordial and productive joint workshop.  The PC, and its chairman, Dean Turner, are to be commended for being open minded and understanding the importance of what they were charged to deliver when they undertook the Comprehensive Plan project.  The BoS is also to be commended for reading the draft document so thoroughly and for finding ways to make it better.  As Tamborrino said, "It should be a done deal when it's done."

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.

Sunday, July 06, 2008

BoS Meeting 7/3/08

Regular Meeting (agenda)

This night's Supervisor's meeting was not a record setter but was long enough.  It was once again capped by an Executive Session on a personnel matter and a potential litigation.  The highlight of the meeting was the reading of the Resolution to honor Forks resident, Judge Robert Freedberg, who has just been appointed to the State Superior Court (see Edward Sieger - Express-Times). 

Public Comments (non-agenda) - none

Supervisor Remarks - none

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.  Egolf said that the current outstanding debt, although missing from the printed agenda, is somewhere in the neighborhood of $7,800,000.

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

  • Public Safety - Supervisor Chuss - reported that at its July 1 meeting, the committee covered:
    • Police Department (PD) re-accreditation status - Chief Dorney said that the department is in its third year of its first accreditation and the deadline for re-accreditation is December 17.  A mock assessment is planned for August 19-20 and the formal assessment (conducted by three representatives assigned by the Pennsylvania Law Enforcement Accreditation Commission) will be September 23-24.  Dorney said that the PD is well on its way to being fully prepared.
    • There will be a press release for the anti-speeding campaign - As part of the program, "NO SPEEDING" signs have been made and will be available to Forks residents to use in their front yards.  The signs have been delivered to the Municipal Building.  The reaction to similar signs in other Townships is that speeders slow down because they sense that "people are watching."  Speed limits will be enforced.
    • The police building continues to have HVAC issues.
    • Large event parking at the Community Center policies have been reviewed and recommendations for changes have been made.
    • Phase 1 of the (PD) modular furniture installation is complete.  Phase 2 will be done after the PD re-accreditation process is completed (in September).
    • Emergency services tower site preparation is in progress - site plans are being finalized.  Construction should begin in a few weeks and completion is expected in October (or shortly thereafter.)
    • A more restrictive burning ordinance update (based on ordinances in other townships) is underway by Fire Chief Weis.
    • Fire Chief Weis said that multi-agencies - Plainfield FD, Tatamy FD, Forks FD, and Forks EMS - conducted a simulated evacuation drill at an elderly housing residential building (2222 Sullivan Trail houses 60 residents) and it was very successful.  The building was evacuated in under 10 minutes. Weis also commended the Forks PD on its recent record prosecution in a homicide case.  Dorney said that it took 15 minutes and included time to eat.
    • Chuss also said that there are three bills pending in the PA House and Senate that, if passed will take some of the pressure off of fire departments to move from voluntary to paid.  Two of the bills directly impact volunteer firefighters (one with tax credit and one with tuition assistance).  The third bill would give a tax incentive to businesses that employ volunteer firefighters.  Chuss proposed that the Board write a letter to Forks' PA representatives recommending that they support the three bills.  Nicholas asked to see copies of the bills first. (See Baker and Waugh Push Tax Credit Bills for more.)
    • The EMS billing issue (per Chuss - a lengthy committee discussion) was deferred to the EMS agenda item.
  • Public Works - Supervisor Miller - said that there have been no committee meetings since the last BoS meeting and that the next is scheduled for Tuesday. 
  • Parks & Recreation - Supervisor Howell - reported that the committee met on June 26th and discussed the joint workshop topics:
    • Township interest in a swimming pool - on the agenda for discussion.
    • Miller's long standing wish for a recreation bridge over Sullivan Trail.  Miller was authorized to explore whatever Federal and State grants may be available.
    • The amphitheater as a 2009 project because grant applications will not be considered until the fall.

Howell said that he attended the June 29 Recreation Board (RB) meeting where the proposed neighborhood parks were discussed.  Specifically the Recreation Board:

  • Endorsed the neighborhood parks proposal and listed the RB's priorities, namely parks at Penn's Ridge (because of its density), Vista Estates (also density), and Braden (with a restroom to help facilitate rentals and the resultant rental income).
  • Wants a part in equipment selection - in particular the play structures and larger sized equipment. 
  • Has a wish list that includes the possible expansion of the Lafayette/Meco park into a family park and a Braden park expansion.  These will probably be part of the RB five year plan.

The RB is working with Miller on a review of equipment needs in the parks.  They will prepare a proposal for the full Board. 

Miller is also working on suggestions for the fitness station equipment and placement as well as the replacement carousel.  Both purchases have already been approved by the Board.

  • Community Relations - Supervisor Nicholas - said that every household in the Township should have received a copy of the latest Forks Quarterly (FQ) in their mailboxes.  She explained that some of the news is outdated and it is Hometown Press' fault.  She said that she spoke with the owner and he promised that it will not happen again.  At the next committee meeting, new vendors for the FQ will be explored.  Nicholas said that the issue with tonight's agenda (it was not on the Township website until 7/3/08 at approximately 5:30 PM) will be straightened out as well.  The committee meets on the second Monday of the month at 6 PM.

Howell said that he's received a lot of phone calls about Gollub Park since the article in the new FQ appeared.  He said that the park has had a lot of visitors. 

  • Finance and Administration - Supervisor Egolf - reported that the next meeting is scheduled for Wednesday, July 9 at 5 PM.

Township Manager's Report - Schnaedter reported that he received a phone call from the EASD transportation department.  They want to meet with the Board of Supervisors regarding the Mitman Road school bus issue.  Nicholas asked about doing a workshop before the next BoS meeting.  Howell suggested that a Public Safety meeting be used.  Chuss said that the next Public Safety meeting is August 5.  Egolf said that an August meeting will be too late as the bus routes will already be planned.  He said that parents are notified of the routes at the end of July.

Schnaedter said that school district is interested in cooperating but maintains that it cannot get all the buses off of Mitman Road.  The district wants to show its proposed routes to the Township. 

Howell said that the Board already asked Keystone Engineering to review Mitman Road to see if any modifications can be made to the Township ordinance.  Hay said that he did not have it and Egolf asked, "Why not?" 

Schnaedter was asked to set up an administrative meeting during the week of July 14 and include himself, a Supervisor (Howell volunteered if no one else could make it) or two, Police Chief Dorney, and Engineer Hay.  The group will report back to the Board.

Engineer's Report - Hay - said that he only had agenda items. 

Nicholas asked if he could have the Mitman Road study by July 14.  Hay said that the road is already posted with a 7 ton limit and that the State does not allow vehicle length prohibitions.  Schnaedter was asked to research how much a school bus weighs. 

Egolf said that the buses have been using that road for so long that "we have become complacent and because of our complacency, we are going to have an accident."  He said that the Middle School is moving the 5th and 6th grades to the new Forks campus and that will mean even more buses. 

Resident Sandy Hanks asked if Mitman could be made one-way (up the hill)? 

Egolf said that he is "ready to stand out there with a sign or lie in the road if need be."  He said that Mitman is a serious problem. 

Nicholas suggested that (Zoning Officer) Weis take photos but school is not in session and there are no buses to photograph.

Egolf asked Hay to report on the Meco traffic signal.  Hay said that he and Schnaedter are meeting with PennDOT officials at their Allentown office on July 19 at 10 AM.  Hay said that PennDOT wants Meco aligned on both sides of Sullivan Trail and that will mean taking property.  PennDOT wants the Township to "deal with" Mr. Leiser.  Hay also said that there's only 7 ft between the Miller property and the road.  The Township plans intersection widening to be towards Met-Ed.  Hay also said that PennDOT is enforcing an obscure rule that any property owner adjacent to highway work must sign off on it. 

Solicitor's Report - Kline - reported that the Strausser billing dispute arbitration testimony has been concluded and that he expects a decision by the next BoS meeting.  The dispute over the bill began in 2001.  There were three arbitration meetings.


Forks EMS Donation Request (Erik Chuss, Supervisor - Public Safety Committee) -  Chuss detailed the background of the newly revived Forks EMS squad - that it went out of business two years ago and came back, with all its debt, in April of 2007.  At that time, Township Supervisors designated Forks EMS as the BLS (basic life support) provider and Suburban EMS was designated as the ALS (advanced life support) provider.  In the absence of Forks EMS, Suburban EMS provided both BLS and ALS service to Forks. 

Barry Albertson (Executive Director/Suburban EMS) addressed the Board and summarized the current state of the billing agreement between the two EMS squads - void.  He said that Forks EMS is in arrears in its payments to Suburban and that Suburban's officers have taken the position that it is their fiduciary responsibility to terminate the agreement.  And, until a new agreement with Forks EMS can be reached, Suburban has offered to hold ALS billings to Forks residents for (up to) the next 30 days.  If a new agreement is reached before that, billings will resume sooner.  Albertson said that to be fair, the Forks squad made payments on time for the first 60 days of the (now void) agreement.

Both Suburban and Forks EMS have now involved attorneys in the process.  Albertson expects that new payment and repayment agreements will take longer than the two days it took in April - when they did not use attorneys. 

Forks EMS owes $23,000 to Suburban and was to have delivered a check for $6,200 to Suburban before tonight's meeting.  The check was not delivered and that act is what caused Suburban to finally pull the plug. 

Albertson explained that Forks EMS does the billing to insurers for both BLS and ALS services when ALS is involved.  Medicare participants account for most of the ambulance calls and Medicare will only accept one bill and it must come from the transporting ambulance service and in Forks' case, that is Forks EMS.  Forks EMS bills the insurers and the insurers pay them directly.  They are in turn, obligated to pay Suburban for its services.  They have not complied completely and thus the large amount owed to Suburban.  The repayment agreement is also void at this point.

Forks EMS president William Keifer addressed the Board and said that he had both a check for Suburban and the squad's attorney, Mark Sigmon (sic), with him.  Keifer said that the squad will begin its subscription drive in 30-45 days.  The subscription drive is how the squad gets the bulk of its money.

Howell reminded the Board that they were not there as "judge and jury" but in their oversight capacity to insure adequate EMS coverage for Forks citizens - and that obligations are met.  The regional contract is not a decision for the Board.  And, since the donation request is the agenda item, Howell felt that under the circumstances, it was premature to think of a donation. 

Nicholas said that her concern was for the citizens of Forks Township and that in her opinion, Suburban has been very patient.  She added that senior citizens could be "wiped out" if they have to pay the full costs of ambulance services. Nicholas said too, that the agreement clearly states that Forks EMS is supposed to stay up-to-date with their payments to Suburban.

Egolf likened Keifer's remarks to that of a "miscreant student" who is sent on occasion after occasion to the assistant principal's office and has one excuse after the other and points the blame at everyone else.  Egolf stated, "I think I've had enough."  And, he added that what is at stake is the health and welfare of Forks' citizens.  He said that he would like the Board to immediately make Suburban the primary responder.  He suggested that Forks citizens who want to pay a subscription to Suburban should send the money to the Township and that the Township could reduce the donation amount by that much.  He said he's "had it" and doesn't want to see Forks EMS or Suburban back before the Board about their differences again.

Attorney Sigmon started to speak and Howell said that he was not recognized.  Instead he addressed Kline, Forks solicitor, for an opinion on the Board's role in view of the contract breach.  Howell said that he is opposed to the travesty of negotiating an agreement before the Board of Supervisors.  He also asked if Suburban can be appointed primary provider at any point in time?

Kline said that Township has the authority to designate who will be the ALS and BLS providers - at any time.  Suburban provided both BLS and ALS service when Forks EMS went out of business.  When Forks EMS came back in business, a prior Board selected Forks EMS for BLS service and Suburban for ALS.  That created the problems that continue today. Kline said that the current Board can switch but he didn't think it something that should be taken lightly.  Kline said too, that the airing of all this dirty laundry in a public meeting is unfortunate as is the fact that the Board has to spend its valuable time on this issue rather than other pressing ones. 

Howell asked Kline if it was his advice that they table the agenda item and wait to hear from Forks and Suburban as to any new agreement.  He suggested that the squads report to Kline's office with the status of their contractual relationship.

Kline said that the Board could, instead of having a donation request on its next agenda, add an item about who will be the ALS and who will be the BLS providers.

Nicholas said that she agreed with Kline and that there should be an Executive Session discussion and a provider decision made at the next meeting.

Egolf said that it is clear to him that the Township needs to go with a provider of ALS service.  Nicholas asked Egolf if he meant that he wanted only one EMS service and he said, "That's right."  Nicholas said that she thinks it's come to the point where the Board needs to make a decision - at the next meeting - after an Executive Session discussion - about this.

Susan Sklodowsky, of Stockertown Borough's Council, addressed the Board and said that she was speaking on behalf of Stockertown residents and not on behalf of the Council.  She asked that Forks keep Stockertown informed.  She also extended praise for the coverage that Fork's fire department gives the Borough.  Kline thought it appropriate that Stockertown be kept informed since it will be affected greatly by whatever decision the Township makes.  Howell suggested that someone from Stockertown attend the (public) Public Safety Committee meetings.  He said that it would be an informative and more casual forum for them.

Attorney Sigmon told the Board that he had checks totaling $6,200 and asked that the Board table the agenda item until their next meeting.  He said that he will submit everything to Kline and hopes to have an agreement before the next BoS meeting.

Albertson said that Suburban's attorney and key staff are on vacation and that's why they offered the 30 days. 

Resident Sandy Hanks asked who determines whether a call to 911 is an ALS or BLS call?  Howell said that the 911 operator does that and that the operator has a protocol to follow in order to make the determination.  Ms. Hanks added that she agrees with Egolf that the Township needs one service to handle everything. 

Resident Richard Wambold asked if the there's only one payment made when both ambulances go to a call and does the payment go to Forks (EMS)?  If Forks gets the payment, then is Forks keeping Suburban's money?  "They've been using their money to run their operation.  Is that what's happening?" 

Howell said that is a contract issue and it is what got "us here today."  He said that the most important issue facing the Board is to determine the financial viability of Forks EMS. 

A motion was made to table the donation request and remove it from the agenda - until such time as it is put back on the agenda.  It was approved unanimously.

Sullivan Trail Business Park Improvements - Invitation to Bid (Fred Hay, Township Engineer) -  Hay said that the met with the project engineer last week and they reviewed remedies for the pond.  The project engineer will have a plan for Hay's review this coming week and Hay recommended that the Board table this item until the next meeting.  They complied in a 5:0 vote.


Resolution - Honoring Forks Resident Judge Robert Freedberg on the occasion of his appointment to the Pennsylvania Superior Court (C. David Howell, Supervisor) - Kline said that it was a great honor for him to read this resolution.  He's known Judge Freedberg for 32 years and said that he doesn't think one could find a finer, more honest man.  He said that Judge Freedberg is exactly the kind of person one wants for a judge.  After the unanimous vote to adopt the resolution, Howell asked Schnaedter to send a letter and a "roll copy" to Judge Freedberg.  Schnaedter recommended that Kline do it.  Kline will do it.

Mitman Road - EASD School Bus Restriction Resolution #080703-01 (Karl Kline, Solicitor) - Kline sent this resolution to the Supervisors via email.  Not all of them received it before the meeting.  Kline said that this resolution urges, respectfully but strongly, that the EASD not to use Mitman Road as a bus route.  He read it to the assembly.  The vote to adopt was 5:0.  Egolf suggested that a copy of the resolution be sent to each EASD board member as well as to the appropriate EASD administrators.  Kline said that he will send it to the EASD attorney, to Joseph Kish, to the acting Superintendent, and to all the school board members.  Howell noted that Forks has two representatives on the school board. 

Jeffrey Brown Subdivision (Fred Hay, Township Engineer) - Hay explained that this four lot subdivision (on the south side of Newlins Road, one lot away from the DPW garage) was conditionally approved by the Planning Commission at its June 6 meeting.  Hay said that there were a couple of changes to his letter, one being that the to-be-established homeowners association will be responsible for road maintenance and storm water drainage and another that one of the requested waivers be changed to a deferral.  Establishment of the homeowners association must be in place (and approved by the Township) before the plans can be recorded or the lots sold. 

Nicholas objected to the size of the plan (11" x 17") because she could not read it. 

The Board reviewed each of the waivers and the deferral - for a (10 ft length of) sidewalk until the Township determines that one is needed.  No trees will be disturbed in the wooded area.  Each lot will be at least two acres.

The votes were the same for each waiver, 4:1, with Egolf casting all of the nay votes.  There will be a plan note that the sidewalk, should it be required, will be the responsibility of the owner of lot #1.  Comment #2 on the review letter was changed to require the homeowners association to maintain the road and the storm water facility and that trees be planted on the west side of lot 4 shielding the Haywood property.  The grading of the sand mound must be approved by Hay. 

This plan passed conditionally (subject to the above and to Keystone's June 6 letter) in another 4:1 vote (Egolf).  Egolf said that in his opinion this is an example of "squeezing as much life as can possibly be squeezed" out of a small piece of land.

Hall/Renigar Lot Line Adjustment - Newlins Road W & Sullivan Trail (Fred Hay, Township Engineer) - This lot line adjustment, giving land in the 100 year flood plain from the Hall property to the Renigar property was approved 5:0.  The land is "unbuildable" and has been mowed and otherwise cared for by the Renigars.  (The Halls gave the land to the Renigars.)

Authorization to solicit request for proposals for feasibility study of Municipal swimming pool (Rick Schnaedter, Township Manager) - Howell said that everywhere he goes, he hears from people that they want a pool or don't want a pool and there's talk, too, of the recreation survey.  He explained that "a feasibility study has to be what it is; it is a really big deal."  A definitive study will tell what a pool will cost, what types of pools are available, how much land will be needed, where it will be located, what other buildings will be needed, what the maintenance will be, how it will be financed - "the whole ball of wax."  Professional opinions may be needed and if so, Schnaedter will come back to the Board to ask for the funds to do that.  This will tell what the impact of a pool will be and whether the Township is financially able to do it.

Nicholas made a motion to authorize it.  She said that it's been number 1 on the surveys for years.  Howell asked for pre-motion discussion first. 

Chuss said that he was totally in support of this and noted that a pool was #1 on the latest recreation survey as well as on the one 12 years ago.  Egolf said that his daughter was on a municipal swim team and is now a swim coach.  He added that "it is one of the best, wholesome things for our young people."  Miller said that he supports this study and that the Township should "move forward one way or the other."  Nicholas said that swimming is not just for kids and that a pool will also benefit some of the older people in the Township.  She added that it's a great place for people to gather and have a good time, young or old. 

Howell said that the study progress will be monitored by the Parks & Recreation committee and that the progress will be reported back to the Board.  The study is necessary because not all things can be predicted.  He added that the study will involve the Recreation Board, the Athletic Association, other townships, etc.  Howell said that the success of any pool is revenue and revenue is obtained from resident and non-resident use of the pool as well as by fully utilizing it.  

Resident Tom Hanks suggested that the study be for an indoor/outdoor pool (like the one in Bethlehem Township) so that it can be used year round. 

By voting for this, Howell explained, the Board is making Schnaedter responsible for the study.  Schnaedter said that he will get several proposals and report back to the Board. 

Egolf made the motion to authorization the study.  Chuss seconded and it passed 5:0.

Executive Session - The executive session was held to discuss a personnel matter and a potential litigation.  No action was taken during the session.  After the session, however, the Board voted 5:0 to authorize advertisement of a newly vacant position in the DPW/Maintenance department.  It was explained that the vacancy is due to a resignation.

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.

Tuesday, July 01, 2008

Check it out - The draft Forks Comprehensive Plan is online!

The latest draft of the Forks Comprehensive Plan is now online.  This is the draft that will be reviewed/discussed at the (public) joint meeting of the Board of Supervisors and the Planning Commission on Thursday, July 10th immediately following the regular 7 PM  Planning Commission meeting. 

If you were on one of the four sub-committees, you'll surely want to give it a read to verify that everything you hoped for and expected is there.  In fact, everyone who cares about the future of Forks Township should give it a read.

Come to the July 10th meeting and let your comments be known.  This will be Forks' guiding document for the next 10 years.  It will pave the future of Forks.  It's pretty darned important.