Sunday, September 06, 2009

BoS Meeting Notes - 9/3/2009

Regular Meeting (agenda)

This meeting started with an executive session at 7:00 PM and closed with the start of yet another executive session an hour and a half later.  The advertised reason for the pre-meeting executive session was "to discuss and select an Architectural Engineering firm for the New Public Works Facility Project."  See the legal notice here.  In fact, the winning bidder was selected during the meeting, after a public discussion. 

The reason for the pre-meeting executive session was publicly explained by Township Solicitor Karl Kline as a defamation lawsuit against Forks Township (and others - see Solicitor's Report below) by Jose Cancio of New Jersey.

Please read Douglas Brill, of the Express Times for more details on the public works garage discussion and the contract award to Kimmel Bogrette Architects.

Public Comments (non-agenda) - None

Supervisors' Remarks:

  • Supervisor Chuss - announced the annual EAA (Experimental Aircraft Association) Chapter 70 Fly-In at Braden Airpark scheduled for September 13th.  The day begins with a Kiwanis prepared breakfast (8 - 11 AM).  Lunch is from 12 - 2 PM.  There will be flying demos, classic cars, and an antique engine exhibition.  Click here for a link to the event flyer

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 $8,166,582. 

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

  • Public Safety - Supervisor Howell - reported the committee has not met since the last BoS meeting and that the next meeting is September 22nd at 8 AM.
  • Public Works - Supervisor Chuss - reported that the committee has not met since the last BoS meeting and the next meeting will be on September 8th at 7:30 AM.  Topics will include the DPW garage and current sewer and road projects.
  • Parks & Recreation - Supervisor Egolf - explained that the committee has not met since the last BoS meeting and that the next meeting will be on Monday, September 14th at 6 PM.  Egolf thanked the DPW and Township Manager for the work underway on the Penn's Ridge basketball court.  He said that the Community Park tennis and basketball courts will be done right after Community Days and that the grading of the 5 acre parcel behind the Community Center will done in the middle of next week.
  • Community Relations - Supervisor Miller - said that the committee has not met since the last BoS meeting and the next meeting will be on Tuesday, September 8th at 5 PM.  (Please note that the Township calendar has this meeting scheduled for Monday, September 14th at 5 PM.  If you are planning to attend, it is suggested that you call the Municipal Building to confirm the date and time.)
  • Finance and Administration - Supervisor Nicholas - reported the committee has not met since the last BoS meeting and that the next is scheduled for September 9th at 5 PM.

Township Manager's Report - Schnaedter - noted that Supervisors' packets contained correspondence from Larry Crowder, Deputy Executive Director of the Lehigh/Northampton Airport Authority.  (Note:  The Airport Authority was before the Board on February 16, 2006 to present its 12-year plan.)

Schnaedter asked that Supervisors review their packets over the next couple of months for what could be put on the server (and not in their packets in the form of paper.) 

He also reminded the Board that Community Days is set for September 19th and 20th.  He said that attendance grows each year and he thinks that everyone who participates has an "enjoyable time."

Engineer's Report - Hay - told the Board that he provided a written report in their packets.  Hay said that regarding the Meco/Sullivan light, he is waiting for PennDOT comments on it and on the driveway.  Also, Hay said that the sewer project should be out of Indian Trail tomorrow.  The going has been very slow because of 20 ft. trenches that collapsed as well as an unmarked water line. 

Howell asked how the grading contractor will get equipment in to the park to work on the five acre parcel.  Hay said that Tom Maloney/Signature Homes has an adjacent empty lot and gave permission for the township to cross it.  There will be no grading done near the mature trees at the east end of the park.  Hay said that there is a silt fence up marking the area to be graded.

Nicholas asked how long the Simms' driveway will be.  Hay said that he didn't recall but that he gave the details to the BoS.  He noted that they want it as far from the Meco/Sullivan intersection as possible. 

Howell asked if there was anything else to report on sewer line work.  Hay said that a buried manhole was found on Sullivan Trail.  It is totally disintegrated.  It is behind the guardrail at Kesslersville and Meco and must be replaced.  Hay hopes to "piggyback" the work on the current contract.

Solicitor's Report - Kline - reported that Forks Township has been named in a lawsuit filed in New Jersey by Jose Cancio.  It is a defamation action and names Forks Township, the Express Times, the New Jersey State Police, and police departments in New Jersey.  Kline said that he thinks it has absolutely no merit and the Township will vigorously defend the lawsuit.


Harvel Plastics – Approval of settlement of tax assessment appeal (Karl Kline, Township Solicitor) - Kline explained that the Northampton County Tax Assessment Office has agreed to a resolution.  It amounts to an assessed valuation reduction of $969,500 for each of two lots.  The tax loss to Forks will total $2,242 per year.  Kline said that valuations are decreasing and the building is old.  He felt this to be an appropriate settlement.  Chuss made the motion to approve and Miller seconded.  It passed in a 5:0 vote.


Lafayette College Storm water Easement Agreement (Karl Kline, Township Solicitor) - Kline said that the easement is for the Lafayette property at the intersection of Sullivan and Newlins West.  There are frequent flooding problems there and the Township wants to improve storm water flows in that area.  In order to do that, permission is needed from the property owner - Lafayette College.  Everything is in order for BoS approval and signatures.

The motion to approve was made by Chuss and seconded by Miller.

Nicholas asked if this is in the 100 year flood plain and when told that it is, she reminded the Board of the Greenway Plan agreement.

Hay noted that the Township has been given clearance for two endangered species, a toad and a turtle, that were not found here.  Apparently, if species are found within five miles of a project, the project must get clearance from the State.

The project is to replace the culverts under Newlins Road West.  Howell noted that a development was approved on the north east corner (of Sullivan and Newlins) but that property is now for sale.  The developer had agreed to provide extra water courses under Sullivan Trail. 

The vote was 5:0 to approve the easement agreement.

Award of Architectural/Engineering Service for Public Works Facility (Erik Chuss, Supervisor) - Chuss explained that the Public Works Committee has been investigating the replacement of the deteriorating garage on Frost Hollow Road.  The committee looked into several alternatives including a physical replacement of the existing garage.  It was determined that the best decision is to start new. 

A request for qualifications was advertised and 43 architectural/engineering firms responded.  The field was narrowed to five and they were interviewed.  The field of five was then narrowed to three.  All three companies gave public presentations this week. 

Schnaedter said that it was a long and arduous process.  References were checked.  Site visits to recent projects were made.  The three finalists are Kimmel Bogrette Architects of Conshohocken, PA, George J. Donovan AIA & Associates, of Bethlehem, PA, and Godshall Kane Architects, of Ambler, PA.  Schnaedter offered that all three firms were highly recommended.

Howell noted that the estimated cost of the new facility will be $3.2 million and that the Frost Hollow site will be used for storage.  It will not be abandoned.

Schnaedter noted that the three firms interviewed are green minded and environmentally conscious.

In a long discussion, each Supervisor gave reasons for their favorite among the three. 

James Wideman (resident and candidate for Supervisor) gave accolades to the Board for the process.  He said that he saw all three presentations and although all the companies were qualified, he favored Kimmel Bogrette.  He thought their architectural designs to be attractive, diverse, and sensitive to green building issues. 

David Schleich, a Crown Drive resident, said that he understands the need for a new building.  He asked the Board to consider the residents on Crown Drive.  He said that it scares him a little to have a municipal garage sitting near his backyard.  He hopes that the building looks nice and does not negatively impact property values. 

Lilly Gioia (resident and candidate for Supervisor) said of Kimmel Bogrette that they designed for the distinct characteristics of each site and used budgetary diligence to keep the cost of change orders down.

Chuss made a motion "to pursue the development of architectural/engineering for the public works garage with Kimmel Bogrette subject to the negotiation of a contract."  Kline summarized the motion:  "To pursue the architectural development work with Kimmel Bogrette subject to the execution of a formal contract."  Miller seconded.

The vote was 3:2 in favor of Kimmel Bogrette Architects.  Both Nicholas and Egolf favored George J. Donovan AIA & Associates. 

Schnaedter was instructed to engage Kline to begin the process of contract review.  Kline said that it is important that the contract define the scope of the work. 

Nicholas said that it is difficult for the public (and some Supervisors) to attend the 7:30 AM Public Works Meetings.  Howell noted that Kimmel will interview the DPW and not the Supervisors about the utility of the building.
Editing of Comprehensive Plan Proposal (Robert Egolf, Supervisor) - Howell said that Egolf volunteered to contact professionals in the field of editing.  He got a letter back from one of his colleagues, Dr. Ken Friedman.  Dr. Friedman has been an editor, a technical writer, a journalism instructor, etc.  Egolf gave him a draft of the Comprehensive Plan and asked what he thought of it in terms of grammar and syntax.  Dr. Friedman's proposal was in the Supervisors' packets. 

Howell said that this will set a framework (a standard) for all comprehensive plans.

Schnaedter offered that this was a "doable" expense.  Nicholas asked what is still owed Charlie Schmehl (URDC).  She felt that the money to contract the editing should be withheld from him since he did not properly do the job he was hired to do.  Schnaedter said that the Township has engaged Mr. Schmehl on additional matters.

Chuss noted that Dr. Friedman's proposal was for $60/hour with a cap at $3,000.  He said that he personally read through the plan four times and understood every word.  Chuss said that it is a matter of "what" is being presented and not "how" it is being presented.  He thought that the proposal was a "large chunk of money" for grammar issues. 

Nicholas said that URDC should honor the contract and that spelling and grammar errors are unacceptable. 

Howell offered that the content is now just right but that it should read well and that Forks should not send a "semi-schlocky document" into the public domain.

Three members of the ad hoc committee met with Mr. Schmehl early on and he said he'd work on it until they are satisfied.  Now, however, he is saying that this is his work product.  This is it and he is not volunteering to send it to an outside company.

Chuss asked if the Township needed to hire an editor at the doctorate level.  He suggested finding a graduate assistant who might work at a lower rate.

Nicholas thought that a formal letter asking URDC to fix the errors should be sent.  The letter should be directed to the principals at URDC and not to Charlie Schmehl.

Egolf noted that it is interesting talking about the end product now.  He reminded the BoS and everyone else that the document was not unanimously accepted when it was delivered by Mr. Schmehl.  The initial problem was content and to correct that, an ad hoc committee was formed - to redo Charlie Schmehl's work.  The committee did that and "spoon fed" Mr. Schmehl with what they wanted. 

Howell thought that the Board owes Charlie Schmehl a notice that they are doing this (the edit).

Nicholas made a motion to send a letter to URDC and if there is no response before the next BoS meeting to vote on Dr. Friedman's proposal.  Chuss seconded the motion. 

Egolf suggested a phone call in addition to the letter.  Chuss suggested looking for lower cost editing alternatives before the next meeting.

Schnaedter will write the letter to URDC. 

David Billings (resident and candidate for Supervisor) asked what action is sought from URDC.  Nicholas responded that she wants them to correct it or to pay for it to be corrected.  Billings offered that the letter should state that.

The motion passed 5:0.

Resolution # 090903-1 / Congratulate State Senator Robert C. Wonderling on appointment to Greater Philadelphia Chamber of Commerce (C. David Howell, Supervisor) - Tabled in a 5:0 vote after Howell said that he'd like to table it, do a content review, and vote on it at the next meeting.

Executive Session - There was an executive session.  Updated 9/16/2009:  Solicitor Kline explained that the Executive Session was held for a personnel issue.  No action was taken during the session.  Afterwards, a motion was made to solicit Requests for Qualifications (RFQ) from engineer candidates for the 2010 position of Township Engineer.  The vote to approve the motion was unanimous.  Click here to read the legal notice.

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.

1 comment:

Man of said...

1) "Kline said that he thinks it has absolutely no merit and the Township will vigorously defend the lawsuit." CH-CHING, ring the register for KK again! When will this village wake up and hire a qualified out-of-work attorney for less money?

2) Spending millions of dollars on a public works garage in this economy? As MasterCard says; "Priceless"

3) PD coverage for Stockertown --- what's in this for Forks Residents?