Sunday, April 26, 2009

BoS Meeting Notes - 4/16/2009

Regular Meeting (agenda)

Public Comments (non-agenda)  -

Fernando Cabrera of Cara Court, who appeared at the 4/2/09 BoS meeting to request that the Township create an ordinance regarding abandoned vehicles (and vehicles in disrepair) on private property, said that he brought some examples of PA regulations (for the Board) that he thought might be used verbatim.  He said that he looked ordinances in Northampton and Bucks Counties, among others.  Mr. Cabrera also asked the Board about his request at the last meeting for east/west stop signs on Meco Road at the Thomas/Jamie intersection.  Howell said that it, as well as two other stop sign requests, will be discussed at the next Public Safety Committee meeting (April 21st at 8 AM).

Supervisor Comments

  • Supervisor Howell - said that the Township has been contacted by Megan McBride of the Easton Main Street Initiative and Manager of the Easton Farmers' Market to ask if Forks is interested in participating in the Farmers' Market Trolley.  It will be circulating transportation for Forks residents who are interested in going to the Easton Farmers' Market during the season (all summer and into the fall) and is being underwritten by a grant.  Easton Coach Company is providing the trolley.  Ms. McBride has asked to use the Municipal parking lot as a staging area and has already introduced the program to most of the homeowners' associations.  Howell said that there has been overwhelming interest at the over 55 communities.  It will mean free transportation downtown and will run every half hour or so.  Township Manager Schnaedter said that he spoke with Ms. McBride late this afternoon and she intends to begin the trolley program on June 6th - in time for the Strawberry Festival.  Supervisor Nicholas asked that an announcement be put on the Township website when the details are ready.

(Note-update:  An Express Times April 28, 2009 article reports that the trolley rides will cost $1 round trip.)

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 $8,346,476. 

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

  • Public Safety - Supervisor Howell - said that the committee's next meeting will be on the third Tuesday (April 21st) at 8 AM.  He said that he has spoken with Barry Albertson of Suburban EMS regarding the recent Express Times article about the Faith Lutheran Church purchase of the former Forks EMS building.  All of the Forks EMS outstanding balances to the Township have been paid.  Negotiations are pending regarding Suburban's rental of the building (from the church).  Howell said that the location has always been an EMS location and is centrally located to serve the Township.  The lease will be for one year and will be automatically renewable.  Faith Lutheran has future plans for the building and does not want to be tied down in excess of a year nor does Suburban as it wants to find a permanent location of its own in the Township.  Mr. Albertson will attend the Public Safety meeting.
    • Police Chief Dorney announced that the department received (today) six new audio/video units for the police cars.  Two have already been installed.  Their value totals $48,000 and they were provided from a Federal grant - and the "hard work of Congressman Dent's office."  Both Nicholas and Howell congratulated Chief Dorney.
  • Public Works - Supervisor Chuss - reported that the committee met on Tuesday and "covered a lot of ground."  There are four 5-year plans in development - parks/recreation, facilities, sewer, and road maintenance.  The committee also discussed:
    • The "Dewalt upgrade" (the five acre tract behind the Community Center).  It was discussed (by the committee) because of a comment to the previously distributed versions of the plans. 
    • The five year plan presentations will be done by DPW Director Mark Roberts at a 6:30 workshop before the May 21st BoS meeting.  It will take 45 minutes.  The plans should be in the hands of the Supervisors by their next meeting.  
    • The proposed public works building was discussed as well.  Roberts said that currently the Township is using five different locations across the Township for vehicle storage.  The current garage on Frost Hollow has environmental, storage, and safety issues.  Roberts said that at his old job (in New Britain Township), there is now a new garage with 16 bays.  "It is a very good working facility."  Roberts was able to obtain copies of those plans.  Chuss added that the committee will further discuss financing for the public works garage at its May meeting (May 12 at 7:30 AM).  Schnaedter said that the committee has looked at two other public works facilities and has taken the "positives" from them, made modifications and now has something they feel is feasible and "certainly financially reasonable."
    • Permissions are needed for the Lieb Road connection.  Nicholas said that she thought there were major drainage issues there.  Roberts noted that that is what they are addressing and that an easement will be needed to Bushkill Drive.
    • The Sullivan/Newlins culvert "doesn't look like it will happen this year."  A design as well as easements from Lafayette College are needed.
    • The curbing on Meadow Lane (ref. BoS Meeting note - 3/19/09) will be expensive to replace, is the responsibility of the landowner, and at this time is still being investigated.

Jim Wideman (resident and write-in candidate for Supervisor) asked if the five year plans will be on the Township website for the public to see.  Chuss said he didn't know but that the plans are available for public review.  Howell said that the Community Relations Committee is responsible for the website and they will discuss it.  The website upgrade has just started.

  • Parks & Recreation - Supervisor Egolf - said that at the Monday meeting, every outdoor sport commissioner appeared "to talk about our need for fields."  He said that the Township is experiencing "gratification with our kids" and that the Township has a fantastic athletic program for both indoor and outdoor sports.  Egolf extended thanks to all the teams, coaches, commissioners, and Don Miller for keeping the sports programs going.  He said, too, that "Mark Roberts and his crew" do a great job cooperating with all the commissioners and keeping the fields in shape. 
    • Nicholas spoke to the Community Park amphitheater project.  She said that the committee looked at a prefab amphitheater in Catasauqua and also one done by the Municipal Complex architect in 2007.  She said that one of the concerns was that a wooden structure would not match the other buildings in the complex.  She called CMX, and asked architect Jerry DeFelice to do a simplified plan - as opposed to the elaborate sketches they originally produced. 
    • Nicholas asked the Board to agree to her meeting with the architect at 4 PM on Wednesday.  She then asked Kline if they had to go out for bids to have plans drawn.   Kline said that bids are not necessary for professional services.  Nicholas said that because it is not an advertised public meeting, only one other Supervisor can be present. 
    • She is planning to work with the architect to develop a simplified plan for a structure with good sound quality that will use brick and be less expensive.  She did speak with Catasauqua officials about what is good and bad about their bandshell.  Miller and Schnaedter will be attend the meeting.  Howell offered that he is available should Miller not be able to attend.
  • Community Relations - Supervisor Miller - reported that the committee's topic was the quarterly newsletter.  The first draft has been given to the Supervisors and Miller asked that they get back to Schnaedter with their comments.  Howell said that he finds the full page ad by Easton Hospital to be significant.  He is glad they are back (with an ad).
  • Finance and Administration - Supervisor Nicholas - said that the committee met on April 8th and the budget for March is on track.  She said that Finance Manager Farley put a three year revenue plan together and it will be discussed at the committee's May (13th at 5 PM) meeting.  She asked that Supervisors email comments to her (and/or attend the May meeting).  Nicholas said that it will help with the upcoming 2010 budget.  Other topics covered include:
    • The archiving of documents - It is still in progress.  Farley has finished going through the boxes stored in the Community Center and is now tackling the boxes stored in the Municipal Building.  Farley will contact the EASD (Easton Area School District) to get their plans for the tax boxes it has stored there as there is no space for them.
    • Going paperless - The committee will discuss Chuss' issues (about access from other than Township owned computers) with the IT consultant.  They talked about emailing his packet to him if he is out of town.  Chuss offered that if they need help with this, this is what he does for a living and if he doesn't know the answer, there are dozens of people he can call on his cell phone, who will know.
    • The committee discussed a cost saving program but it must be discussed further because of Federal regulations regarding the use of taxpayer money for employee incentive programs.
    • The Waste Management trash collection contract will require an increase to residents' rates.  Nicholas asked to schedule a public workshop/meeting on July 16th to explain the rate increase.  She said that the committee would like to include a notice (of the meeting) with the June utility billing.  Nicholas said that the constant rate over the current five year contract was calculated from an average of the five year rates and that the increase in population was not considered (in the figures).  The committee will bring it to the BoS in May when the figures are known.   The workshop/meeting date will be confirmed at a May BoS meeting after the figures have been presented to the Supervisors and will be posted on the Township website.
    • The Stockertown fire protection contract for the Forks Fire Department was discussed.  It is due to expire in April 2010 and the committee does not want to "blind side" Stockertown. If the rate is going to increase, she would like to let Stockertown know so that it can include the new amount in its budget.  The committee will discuss the call volume at its May 13th meeting.  It will be an agenda item.  They will use Fire Chief Bryan Weis' detailed fire call report - making the new rate determination based on facts and not just on a guess.  Nicholas said that it will take a while to figure this out and added that she doesn't think that Forks residents should be paying for Stockertown's fire calls.  She thinks Stockertown should pay for its own fire calls.  Nicholas also said that she would like to invite the Public Safety Committee and the Borough of Stockertown to a meeting as well. 

Sandy Hanks (resident and candidate for Elected Auditor) asked about the increased number of residents and the refuse billing.  She wondered why their payments do not cover the difference.  Farley said that the new contract is not yet in place but that Waste Management has offered to keep the current rate for one additional year.  The current contract was for five years with different rates (per resident) for each year.  The rate charged to residents was an average of the five years.  The renewal will be at the fifth year rate - higher than the average that residents are paying now.  In the first two years of the current contract, the Township collected more than it had to pay, in the third year it was the same, and in the last two years it was short - but in the end, ideally (given no increase in residents) it would all work out.  The new residents are paying the year three rate - less than what is being paid by the Township to Waste Management on their behalf.

Township Manager's Report - Schnaedter - verified that he has received only one application for the Planning Commission (PC) opening.  The interview has been set for 7 PM on May 7th (in a workshop) prior to the 7:30 PM BoS meeting.  The (PC) appointment will be an agenda item at the meeting.

Engineer's Report - Hay - not present

Solicitor's Report - Kline - reported that last September the BoS granted conditional approval for Crayola's 15 acre solar panel land development.  Crayola was in a great rush to get the project done by the end of the year (2008 - to take advantage of Federal energy tax credits.)  Since then the credits were extended and Fotowatio (USA) has "fallen off the face of the earth... apparently they lost their power..."  Someone contacted Klein on behalf of Crayola and they will be working with a new company to "resurrect their plan."


Ordinance 312 – Vacation of portion of Glover Road (Karl Kline, Solicitor) - Kline explained that as a result of the plan for Fort James 3, Glover Road was realigned to intersect with the new Braden Boulevard and a portion of Glover Road - a Township road - is no longer needed.  Ordinance 312 vacates that no- longer-needed portion and gives the land to the adjacent property owners (to the middle of the former road bed) - John and Donald Ackerman get half and JG Petrucci gets half.  The ordinance passed in a 5:0 vote.


Police CALEA Accreditation (Greg Dorney, Police Chief) -  Chief Dorney explained that CALEA stands for Coalition of Accredited Law Enforcement Agencies and is a national organization.  An overview of the program was in the Supervisors packets for the April 2nd meeting - along with a letter from January 25th to the Township Manager with a detailed overview of the program, a March 23rd memo from Dorney to the officers titled "Why Accreditation Is Important To Me," and a call service report (grouped by codes) for the years 1999-2008.  Police CALEA accreditation was a topic at the January goal setting meeting.

Henning Holmgaard (former Supervisor, Forks' liaison to the EAJSA, and current candidate for Supervisor) offered a definition of what accreditation is:  A police department goes through a series of tests given by their peers to see that their performance standards are up to the standards of the level being applied for. (Forks PD achieved State accreditation in 2005 and was re-accredited in early December 2008.) Holmgaard said that Dorney is now part of the State accreditation team.  Dorney offered that Detective/Accreditation Manager James F. Rowden is a member as well.

Dorney said that there are currently only six CALEA accredited law enforcement agencies in PA - out of 1200 plus departments.

Dorney said that accreditation is the implementation of professional standards based on best practices.  The standards for CALEA are developed by nationally, and in some cases, internationally recognized police practitioners.   There are 438 standards and under each there are sub-sections with a lot more standards.

Police development will be how the standards are implemented within the department.  The department must then meet the adopted standards and maintain them on a day-to-day basis.  It takes three years (and random audits) and at the end, a team of outside professionals comes in for a week and goes through "doors and drawers" and decides if the standards are being met.

Dorney said that it is essentially a risk management program that looks at crucial high risk activities that have the potential, if not done properly, to end up in costly litigation for the municipality.  He offered that he believes in it greatly.

The initial cost for the program is $1,570 (based on the number of authorized individuals in the department - currently 24).  Dorney said that he would like to use the existing training fund.  In year two the cost will be $207 for approximately $1,800 total.  Dorney is looking at a five year timeline and expects to be fully CALEA accredited in July of 2014.

Dorney reviewed the service report that was in the Supervisors's packets.  In 1999, the department responded to 3,428 calls.  Last year there were 7,656 calls for service - no homicides.  In 2007 the department handled its first homicide in a long time.  "It was handled from start to finish by our agency and resulted in one of the fastest convictions in Northampton County history on a murder charge."  Dorney added that they see just about everything (in calls) and that it is important that the department set high standards for itself.

Howell thanked Chief Dorney for his well done presentation and asked for a motion.  It was offered by Chuss and seconded by Nicholas. 

In discussion, Egolf asked how the department officers view the program - because "without a buy-in, things fail."  Dorney said that they all back it.  Egolf offered that it is very good that this is not "from the top down type of initiative" and congratulated Dorney.

Lilly Gioia (resident and write-in candidate for Supervisor) asked if the CALEA program standards cover domestic situations, particularly child abuse.  She said that when the the economy in a downturn, domestic abuse cases rise.  Dorney said that it is covered currently by State law and is in the State accreditation program.  He added that she is right, domestic issues have risen.

The vote was 5:0 to approve Forks Township Police Department's move toward national accreditation.

Request for acceptance of the Community Center roof repair (Mark Roberts, DPW Director) - Roberts explained that the Community Center roof leak repair bids were opened on April 13th.  Three bids were received however, Alfero & Company's low bid of $15,288 did not have the required "statement of bid qualifications" attached.  Robinson Roofing Services was the next low bid at $15,853 and the third bid was from Alan Kunsman Roofing at $24,750.  In a 5:0 vote, the Supervisors accepted the Robinson Roofing bid.

Request for acceptance of the Remediation of the Police Dept. ductwork (Mark Roberts, DPW Director) - Tabled because of questions that need to be researched.

Purchase of World Trail Fitness Package (Rick Schnaedter, Township Manager) - Schnaedter said that last year, the outdoor fitness trail in the Community Park was removed because it was in disrepair.  The Recreation Board's recommended replacement equipment did not meet the PA COSTARS program.  However, comparable equipment was found from Playworld Systems, a State approved COSTARS vendor (no bids needed).  It is currently "on sale" and a little less expensive than the original choice.  The Recreation Board is amenable to the substitution.  The not-to-exceed amount of $8,099 will come from the Parks & Recreation fees (a fund from money paid by developers for that purpose).  Howell said that $9,000 was set aside last year.  The purchase of the "Trail World package 1" was approved in a 5:0 vote.

Review of Public Works (5) year Plan (Erik Chuss, Supervisor) - Chuss said that the BoS has the Recreation and the Facilities Plans.  The remaining two plans will be in the next meeting packets.  They will be reviewed at the Public Works Committee meeting in May and will be presented to the Board by Mark Roberts at a May 21st public workshop at 6:30 PM before the regular BoS meeting.

Nicholas asked that the names of employees in the Facilities Plan be removed and replaced with their position titles.  All the plans will be changed to show titles instead of names.

Executive Session - The session was requested by Nicholas.  The purpose was to discuss a real estate matter.  No action was taken and the meeting was adjourned.

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