Sunday, May 16, 2010

Survey This!

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Saturday, May 08, 2010

BoS Meeting Notes - 4/15/2010

Regular Meeting - Agenda

At this meeting, Supervisors learned:

  • The hope is that the new fire engine will be in service by Forks Community Days.
  • The public works garage preliminary plan presentation before the Planning Commission is not far off.
  • The Community Center website calendar now has content!
  • Waste Management wants to hold its rate through August of 2011.
  • The Forks Historical Society's (very attractive) photo display is now on view at the Community Center.
  • The Kesslersville Road stormwater project may be one of the few in Northampton County to get FEMA funding. 
  • Kimmel Bogrette may have some input into the amphitheater design. 
  • Two tot lots were approved!
  • And, Weis Market is on the move!

 Public Comments (non-agenda)

  • Brett Morrow - Howe Street resident said that he was before Supervisors two or three years ago with a problem in his neighborhood - an Easton Auto Body flatbed truck parked on the street by renters. The truck was leaking oil.  The truck is now smaller and is parked on gravel behind the house.  He has a new problem now.  Next door neighbors for the last three weeks have two full sized mattresses leaning up against the house.  "The property is not maintained whatsoever."  There are three basketball hoops in the roadway.  Mr. Morrow reminded the newly elected Supervisors that a lot of them walked his street when they were trying to get elected.  He said that neighborhood property owners are proud of their properties.  Yet, some have erected fences "right on" property lines and he thinks there may be zoning violations.  "I am an attorney and will be a pain if I have to be."  His real question though was what steps can he and his neighbors take to correct the eyesore next door to 830 Howe Street.  He said it is affecting the value of all of the properties.  Chuss suggested that he speak with Zoning Officer Tim Weis and Township Manager Rick Schnaedter.  Chuss said, "If need be, we'll address it."  Morrow added that one of his neighbors with a basketball hoop is an Easton policeman and he was told to move his hoop off of the street. 

Supervisors Comments

  • Supervisor Chuss welcomed all the EAHS students and told them that they will have to stay until the end of the meeting to get their papers signed.  He also said of the 2010 census that the PSATS (Pennsylvania State Association of Township Supervisors) response rate is up to 70%.  He requested that any who have not filled out their census forms please do since a lot of aid and decisions regarding voting are made based on the census.

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 outstanding debt is $11,428,627.

Standing Committee Reports:

  • Public Safety - Supervisor Egolf - reported that the committee met last night at 7:15 PM and covered quite a few things.  Chief Dorney said that they discussed National Night Out activities (for August) and concern over motorized scooters and young kids.  Information will be posted on the Township website.  Fire Chief Chapman said that the new fire engine begins production on 7/8/10 and the estimated completion date is 7/15/10.  He expects it to ship the beginning of August.  Chapman said that it should ship the first week of August and he hopes to have it in service in time for Forks Community Days. 
  • Public Works - Supervisor Howell - reported that the committee meeting was cancelled because there were no significant pending matters for discussion.  He reported, too, that the Planning Commission (PC) saw a presentation of the public works garage conceptual plan - by Kimmel & Bogrette.  The process is still in progress and there are no major delays.  There are still some issues to be decided regarding the vegetative roof, the type of radiant heat, and etc.   The preliminary plan presentation to the PC is not far off.  The public will be alerted.
  • Parks & Recreation - Supervisor Rogers - said that the committee met on April 7th and that Dan Martyak (president of FTYSO - Forks Township Youth Sports Organization) is working with Finance Manager Jim Farley to come to some agreement about an online signup tool for sports.  Also:
    • The walk around of the five acre parcel has been delayed since Martyak has been unable to schedule it with resident Eric Konecke.
    • Martyak reported that the FTAA (Forks Township Athletic Association) special liquor license was a "once and done" for the 250th celebration.
    • Martyak said that he is open to let BoS look at at the FTAA records at any time.
    • The Recreation Board reviewed their five year plan at their last monthly meeting.  A suggestion was made that the Recreation Board consult with the PC for feedback, ideas, and input.
    • Four minor changes to the Recreation Board Ordinance were made.  It is being typed and will be forwarded to Ed Moore of the Recreation Board.  Then it will be presented next month at the Parks & Recreation Standing Committee meeting.
    • The Community Center basketball season has ended.   It was the largest season ever - 30 teams.  Nine made it to the playoffs, four moved on to the semi-finals, and a girls team won a league championship.
    • Outdoor spring sports are now in session.  The Community Center will now start to host club sports such as AAU.  Rogers said that these sports are income producers.  There will be a summer basketball league from June through July - with 148 teams.  Last summer the Community Center "made about" $17,000 from the summer league.
    • Community Center coordinator, Don Miller wants some things considered re. Braden Park - a sand volley ball court, playground equipment, and the fee for the pavilion rental.  Schnaedter, Miller, and DPW Director Roberts are working on a proposal that includes placement, dimensions and costs.  The presentation target date is the May 6th BoS meeting. 
    • The Community Center website calendar will be updated with daily CC programs.  
    • The next meeting is Wednesday, May 5th at 6 PM in the Municipal Building.
  • Community Relations - Supervisor Chuss - said that the committee met on April 12th.  The newsletter is out to homes.  The next target dates are 7/1/10 (with May 15th as the article deadline) and 9/1/10.  December 1st is the target date for distribution of a Township calendar and a new map.  Chuss said that the committee will meet with New Horizons, the Township website provider, at its May 10 meeting (4:30 PM) in the Municipal Building.  (Note:  The Township website designer is New Arrival Studios.)  They will be discussing potential enhancements to the website.  Chuss also reported that Mr. Brian Lokitus is the president of Forks Community Days.  Other officers have been appointed.  Lokitus is also the president of the Business and Commerce Association of Forks (BCAF).  Sponsors and donations are being solicited for Community Days.  The committee meets the third Monday of the month at 7 PM at the Community Center.  The Community Days event is scheduled for the second weekend after Labor Day.  Jack Fatzinger of Stockertown brought some of his art work for consideration by the Township.  It was discussed and will be "considered possibly in the future."  Tim Weis (Zoning Officer) is working on a welcome packet for new residents.  Schnaedter is recommending that it be submitted to a PSATS contest for welcome packets.  Schnaedter thinks it will probably be an award winner.  The Forks Arts Society met last night at the Community Center and fifteen people attended.  All were enthusiastic.  A draft mission statement and bylaws are being worked on (in order to establish it as a formal organization of Forks), and one member is creating a Facebook page.   Forks painter Charles Hanson showed some of his artwork.  Chuss said it was  impressive.  The next meeting is Wednesday, May 19th at 7:30.  Merrit Shuler (sic) will do a bonsai demo. 
  • Finance & Administration - Supervisor Billings - said that the committee met yesterday at 6 PM.  Finance Manager Farley said they reviewed the 2008 Recreation Board audit.  It was received earlier this year from the auditors and it was deemed satisfactory with a few minor recommendations.  He is working with the Recreation Board to tighten controls.  Waste Management contacted the Township and said that it would like to hold last year's prices through August of 2011.  A final proposal will be sent to the Township sometime in May.  Billings said that the PEMA loan for the fire truck will be an agenda item next month.

Township Manager's Report - Schnaedter said that Supervisors have a copy of the $46,000 park planning grant application in their packets.  It is for the recreation land at Newlins and Richmond Roads and is a fifty percent match.  The needed resolution to go forward with the grant process was passed with a 5:0 vote.  Schnaedter also reported that the Forks Historical Society photo display is now on view at the Community Center.  He said that it is very attractive.  Lastly, Schnaedter said that the PSATS annual conference starts this Sunday.  Chuss and Billings may attend. 

Engineer's Report - Muller reported that the sanitary sewer draft specifications have been completed.  They have been delivered to DPW Director Roberts for review.  The Indian Trail grading and milling is now in design.  It has been reviewed and he and Roberts walked the site yesterday.  They will be trying not to touch curbing and inlets in order to save money.  The Sullivan Trail sanitary sewer is already in design.  He and Roberts have also walked it.  Some additional feet may need to be added to the project.  And, Muller reported that he spoke with FEMA and NORCO regarding the Kesslersville Road project.  It was applied for in 2008 and may be one of the few NORCO projects to get FEMA money.

Solicitor's Report - Kline - agenda items only.


Resolution # 100415-1 Approval of Timothy Belon Inter-municipal Liquor License Transfer (Karl Kline, Solicitor) - Kline explained that there was an April 1st hearing with Mr. Timothy Belon for an inter-municipal liquor license transfer.  It used to be that in order to get a liquor license in a municipality, it had to be purchased from another establishment in that municipality.  The rules were changed a few years ago to allow buying one from another municipality on the condition that a public hearing be held. 

This license transfer was approved by the Board and the formal resolution is needed by Mr. Belon to send to the PA Liquor Control Board.  The license is from Danielsville and is being sold to Delaware Drive LLC, the sole owner and manager.  Because the ownership was not mentioned at the hearing, Mr. Belon needs to prepare a supplemental application for submission to the Township and needs to be present at tonight's meeting to answer any questions from the Board.  Kline said that he took the liberty of revising the resolution to the LLC.

Belon said that he was not aware of the regulations at the time of the application. 

Chuss asked if the only change is the name.  The answer was "yes."

Billings asked Kline if the liquor license will be owned by the LLC.  He answered that it would be and added that one never wants to own a liquor license individually because if there is a liability because of someone misusing the alcohol, the liability would be against the individual owner - who would stand to lose all of his/her personal assets.

Howell made the motion to approve.  Egolf seconded.  The vote was 5:0.

Municipal Amphitheater (Rick Schnaedter, Township Manager) - Schnaedter noted that the bids for the amphitheater were opened a few weeks ago and the low bid was Bracy Contracting at $360,000.  The item was tabled and he was asked to explore other alternatives.  He, Mark Roberts, and Tim Weis met with Recreation Resources, Inc. of Kennett Square, PA, the designers of this Kannopolis, NC bandshell installation.   They got prices for a downsized structure, a concrete pad, and the construction of the building.  They found that there are too many variables based on the information at hand.  The Township would also need an architect and engineer since this is beyond the scope of its personnel. 

Chuss asked if other companies do amphitheaters.  Schnaedter said that he was not aware of them. 

Billings asked the expiration date on the current bid.  Schnaedter said that the bid is good through 6/8/10.   Chuss said that he is supportive of the amphitheater but is sounding like a "broken record" because the costs are pushing up to $500,000 and he has trouble grasping anything over $300,000.

Chuss asked if the Board wants to do anything with the Bracy bid or if it has an alternative?

Howell said that Kimmel Bogrette is building a (probably) award winning public works building for Forks.  He suggested that Schnaedter sit with Kimmel Bogrette and show what we have and ask for alternatives in materials - and other ways to reduce construction costs based on our plans.  Howell added that Martin Kimmel, because of his current engagement with the Township, will likely be quite reasonably priced. 

Chuss said he thought it a viable alternative.  He also wondered whether or not the Planning Commission (PC) can help or if Township Engineer Scott Muller can help or if Schnaedter or Muller can inquire of PSATS (Pennsylvania State Association of Township Supervisors) since others may be building amphitheaters.   

Former Supervisor Bonnie Nicholas said that if the Modern Concrete panels are removed and replaced with brick, it will save money.  She thought a laid off brick layer could do the same thing. 

Schnaedter said that he will see Tim Edinger (formerly of CMX) this weekend and "will run it by him."

Mark Mulrine of Wagon Wheel Drive said that he is an advocate of band shells.  He asked if we had already spent $500,000 looking into this.  Chuss answered that we have spent $49,000.  Mr. Mulrine asked where the funds will come from and Schnaedter replied that developers have paid fees into a fund for recreation and leisure activities.  Mr. Mulrine wondered if the funds must be spent by a certain time?  Howell remarked that that is a very interesting question.  Mulrine asked, "What's the rush to spend an awful lot of money here?"  Chuss said that a year (and $50,000) has already been spent on it and that developers might ask for their money back if it isn't spent on recreation.  

Mr. Mulrine suggested using the City of Easton's amphitheater.  It is only used by the city three months of the year.  A lot of money could be more appropriately spent on year round things.  The City of Easton would probably be more than happy to rent it to Forks. 

Using the Eddyside pool as an example, Howell noted that it is a wonderful pool and if Forks builds one, it will be the death knell of Eddyside.  He said that he sits on a number of boards in Easton and "a large nut to crack is to get people from Forks and Palmer to come to Easton."  They don't.  The Easton amphitheater is wonderful asset that they choose to ignore.  Forks' amphitheater will be paid for in large part by local businesses. 

Mr. Mulrine asked who pays for the bands and the cleaning?  Chuss said that we have staff available for that and in addition the fledgling Forks Arts Society (now renamed the Forks Area Arts Society) will be finding acts for the amphitheater. 

Chuss said that the Nazareth bandshell feedback is positive.  This will bring more activities for the "age challenged" Forks residents.

Howell said that when it is built, "we must bring people to it."  He spoke with a Musicfest promoter who would like to have "a pay per view event" in the new amphitheater.

Egolf made a motion to give the Township Manager permission to continue researching the construction of an amphitheater to to get a report to the Board within a month.  Howell seconded.  The vote was 5:0.  Billings made a motion to table this action item.  It passed 5:0.

For more details, read Madeleine Mathias (Express-Times).


Weis Market – Approval and execution of developer’s agreement (Karl Kline, Solicitor) - Kline explained that on April 19, 2007 Weis Market got its final conditional plan approval.  There were a number of challenges by property owners - all of which were dismissed -  then there was a recession and a decline in the real estate market. 

Weis is now ready to move forward.  The land development improvement agreement is signed.  The Township has a certificate of liability insurance and the Letter or Credit has been received.  They are ready to proceed.  The last obstacle is the needed PennDOT highway occupancy permit (HOP) for the improvements to the intersection of Uhler and Sullivan.   According to Mr. O'Hara from Weis, they are prepared to move forward and expect to have the HOP in place in the next 30 days.  They are pursuing a parallel path by doing their drawings and engineering and getting their permits in line and hope to open for business in early February or March of 2011.

Chuss asked when the ground breaking will take place.  O'Hara said that they are prepared to start the site work when the final approval is in process - so it can start in the next month or so. 

Howell asked if there will be any issue regarding which road to use when doing the sitework, Ian or Braden?  They are required under the agreement to use Ian.  Kline noted that that is why Ian was not paved with a top coat and Braden was. 

Chuss remarked that it's great.

Howell observed that the Giant has awoken and prepared for competition.  Weis has a wonderful location and will attract lots of shoppers from the north, east, and west.  It will have gasoline.  He suggested an upscale wine and spirits store like the one on Route 248 for the 8,000 - 10,000 square feet of store to be built later. 

Howell moved to approve.  Egolf seconded and the vote was 5:0.

Read Madeleine Mathias (Express-Times) for more details.

Resolution # 100415-2 Dedication of Street - Creek Court – Estates at Bushkill Creek (Karl Kline, Solicitor) - Kline said that this subdivision off of Bushkill Drive has one street completed.  It was approved by the former Township Engineer.  Kline said that it is appropriate for the Board to officially accept it and to make it part of the Township street system.  The resolution was approved 5:0.

Approval for the Braden Airport and Vista Estates Park Equipment (David Billings, Supervisor) - Billings sought approval for play equipment at both Braden Park and Vista Estates.  He said that it is a continuation of the plan started by Howell and Egolf in 2008 and that it was reviewed by the Recreation Board.  Vista Estates petitioned the Board in 2008 and sent a letter of support from the residents and the neighborhood association. 

Chuss said that a recommendation by a subcommittee does not imply approval and that this is putting the cart before the horse.  He called it "premature at this time" since there is no way to know what is and isn't planned and the fate of the parkland at Richmond and Newlins is still unknown.  Also, the bikepath work is in progress.  He added that he is confused by the agenda topic and that it should be before the Parks & Recreation Standing Committee for recommendations. 

Billings said that this has gone through the process and that the Vista Estates tot lot will cost $14,000 out of the $1.3 million recreation fund - and it is highly appropriate to approve.

Howell said that Vista Estates park was part of the initial plan.  There were three parks planned, Vista, Penn's Ridge, and Ramblewood.  Ramblewood was abandoned and the money was donated to the Forks Elementary School park project.  The Recreation Board five year plan includes Vista Estates - it is to serve a dense community and take pressure off of the main Community Park.  When Braden Park was initially introduced, Don Miller was not in favor of it.  Now he wants it to supplement the facilities at Braden, a destination park.  In fact, he reports that the park is not "saleable" for large events because it has no play equipment and no volley ball court. 

Rogers asked if the Braden request was separate from the Miller/Roberts/Schnaedter effort or if it is to coincide with it. 

Chuss said that sand is not cheap and that volley ball courts require special sand.  He wants to know the costs before approval.  He said that he has been screaming for a five year plan from the Recreation Board.  The one they have is a draft.  He offered that it "bothers him badly" that the Vista Estates people will be screaming about the proximity of the Newlins Park.  He has no objection to Braden because it is an established park. 

Howell said that Vista also has a park, the baseball field, and no residents have complained about it.  What is intended to be installed is a 2-12 year old play area with a swing set - in a remote area.  The Township already knows the costs of every piece of apparatus that is to go there.  Howell has a seen a draft of the five year plan and it deals with macro issues like a field house and a bridge over Sullivan Trail.  Little kids get stuck in the bureaucracy of Boards of Supervisors.  He finished by saying that he does not want to push this recreation project into a "bureaucratic dust bin."

Cornelius Brons, president of the Vista Estates Homeowners Association, said that he promised the mothers in the neighborhood that he would look into asking about the park.  They want it.  There are many young families in Vista and the Remaly tract is not decided.  They want something for young children.  He noted that the "vibrations" are down on the DPW garage plans and that there is land on Crown Drive.  There is an adjoining Segal & Morel tract whose families may come up and use the Vista tot lot.  It will benefit three neighborhoods, Lafayette Estates, Segal & Morel and Vista Estates.  There are traffic issues with the ballpark - cars flying down Richmond Road and flying down Winchester - there are no stop signs.  Nothing stops traffic issues.  What Mr. Brons would like is a tot-lot in a secure area of the neighborhood where little kids don't have to cross the street.  Currently mothers are driving their kids to the school playground.

Chuss said that he wants everything to be in the Community Park because it is easier to police.  He said too, that he has had complaints about the Penn's Ridge park... "Why are they getting one.  I want one too.  I'm as far as they are." 

Billings made a motion to approve the Vista Estates play structure (for toddlers ages 5-12) and swing set (for toddlers ages 5-12) and, if possible, some benches and picnic tables - all capped at $15,000.  Egolf seconded.

Egolf noted in discussion that the problem is that the people who will use the equipment are not present.  If it were for sports, the auditorium would be full of coaches and commissioners.  There are no 5-10 year olds here.  He has been an advocate for kids and has been working on this for years.  In fact, he said he thought it a "no brainer - who would not want to spend some money out of a pot of nearly $2 million - for kids?"  From what he gathers sitting on the Board, there are very few people in Forks who think kids deserve swing sets.  If the location is wrong, move it.  It is not the astrodome - just a simple swing set for a bunch of kids who live in the community - no taxpayer money is being used.  He added that if there were a room full of kids here with their moms and dads, there would be a resounding "YES." 

Rogers said that her issue is not with children.  She just wanted to know if the two (Braden) issues are separate efforts of if they are going to be joined.  Howell noted that the motion is on Vista Estates.

Chuss remarked, "Ready, spend, plan is not fiscally responsible." 

The vote was 3:2 with Chuss and Rogers casting the nays.

Billings made a second motion to purchase a Braden play structure (for toddlers ages 5-12), a swing set (for toddlers ages 5-12), a seesaw, benches, charcoal grills, and a volley ball court with a cap at $25,000.   If more money is needed because of the volleyball court, the Board can be approached again.  Howell seconded.

Rogers asked if the efforts will be coordinated?  Billings replied that the current efforts would be leveraged. 

Chuss asks if $25,000 is enough.  Schnaedter said that there are some location concerns.  DPW Director Roberts offered that at Penn's Ridge there is a 45 x 90 foot safety zone.  Miller's plan will need some shifting. 

The vote was 4:1 with Chuss casting the nay.

For more, please read Madeleine Mathias (Express-Times).

Executive Session - There was an Executive Session to discuss potential litigation, potential acquisition of real estate, and litigation.  No action was taken during or after the executive session and the meeting was adjourned. 

Our objective is to relate what is experienced at Forks Township meetings for those who cannot attend. We are attempting to be as factual as we can. If we make a mistake, tell us via email or COMMENT here in the blog, and we will do our best to correct it. We are not perfect. We want to get it right.

Friday, May 07, 2010

Lilly Gioia Appointed Forks Newest Supervisor

Christopher Baxter (The Morning Call) reported that the Forks Board of Supervisors voted 3:1 (Chuss cast the nay) to appoint Lilly Gioia to replace Michele Rogers who resigned officially as of May 6th. The nomination was made by Supervisor Robert Egolf who expressed his opinion that the next highest vote getter in the 2009 election should get the nod.

Ms. Gioia's appointment will last through January 1 following the 2011 Municipal Election. At that election, others, including Ms. Gioia, may run for the seat and the one who wins will serve for four years, the balance of Ms. Rogers' term.

Congratulations to Lilly Gioia.

Wednesday, May 05, 2010

Newly elected Forks Supervisor resigns

According to two May 5, 2010 online articles one in The Morning Call (Christopher Baxter) and the other in the Express-Times (staff), newly elected Supervisor Michele Rogers has resigned from the Forks Township Board of Supervisors.  Supervisor Chuss is quoted extensively in both articles and gives different reasons than Ms. Rogers for the resignation.

Update 5/6/10:  Both newspapers have print edition articles with more details.  See Christopher Baxter (The Morning Call) and Tony Nauroth (Express-Times).