The June 18 meeting is another marathon session of 2 hours and 15 minutes, however, I’m beginning to see the benefit for Pearson to doggedly continue with these self-indulgent morality tales at the beginning of each meeting: First, it allows him to believe he is a wise, but benevolent, leader of the community, imparting wisdom from his lofty heights on to his guileless, but nevertheless worthy, subjects. Second, it buys him time, however short, to wallow in his illusion of competent leadership before reality comes crashing down on his head. This week it comes during public comment at 4:30 seconds in.
Tom Grasso, Providence Corners HOA President, approaches to remark upon the Cellco decision by the Zoning Hearing Board earlier in the week (for background on this issue, see HERE and HERE).
I’ll let his comments speak for themselves:
I’d like to take this time to remind the Board of Supervisors of the responsibility they have to all the members and residents of Upper Providence Township. That responsibility is to do what is in the best interests of all residents, not just to benefit those that maybe are a handful of their friends. There was recently a use variance application brought forth for the installation of 100’ cell tower on a property zoned residential. The Township Code clearly states, “Communication towers are prohibited in a residential zone.” The Code also references a 75’ height restriction for structures in a residential area as well.
As is customarily the case, the Township Planning Commission reviewed the application. I think it’s important that we refresh ourselves with the duties and purpose of the Planning Commission. Quote: “The Planning Commission’s members review the development proposals for the Township, work in conjunction with Planning & Zoning to determine a project’s feasibility, impact on the surrounding area, and traffic in compliance with Township codes. The Planning Commission submits development plans with their recommendations to the Board of Supervisors for approval.” End quote. That’s directly from the Township’s website.
In this case, the Planning Commission did their work, reviewed the application and voted unanimously to recommend that this Board oppose the application that I am speaking of. And on 10/16/2017, this Board did exactly that and voted unanimously to authorize the Township Solicitor to oppose the relief sought by the applicant in the Zoning Hearing Board case 2017-07, Cellco d/b/a Verizon Wireless, on behalf of the residents. The applicant sought, and was granted, several continuances to delay their hearing, hoping to avoid the protests of residents. They later approached this Board again, on 11/20/2017, with changes to their application, hoping that the Board would remove its opposition. The Board sent them back to the Planning Commission to make their case. In that meeting, Mr. Barker stated, that this Board rarely, almost never, goes against the recommendation of the Planning Commission for as long as he’s been on the Board.
The applicant again went before the Planning Commission, they reviewed the application, changes and all, and again, unanimously voted to recommend that the Board oppose the application. However, on 2/5 of this year, surprisingly, in an unprecedented manner, this Board voted and decided to withdraw the Township’s opposition and go against the recommendation of their own Planning Commission.
Why would three brand new members only one month into their new roles, reverse a decision made only a few months prior and countermand the recommendation of their own Planning Commission without really knowing the facts of the situation?
It makes no sense to me.
Mr. Pearson said that he wanted to remain neutral, and was apt to let the hearing board do its job. In this same Board of Supervisors meeting, Mr. Pearson said to me, and other residents of the community, that we were free to make our case to the Zoning Hearing Board. However, on multiple occasions, the Zoning Hearing Board solicitor, Mr. Khoury, prevented residents from asking follow up questions of new information presented by witnesses, stating, we already had a chance to ask a question. He even prevented one of the Board members, who eventually voted against the application, from asking questions during the hearing when the member’s questions started to get into the proof of hardship.
Mr. Pearson, other Board members, you ran for your seats in 2017 on a platform of transparency. At the time, I believe you cited an inappropriate relationship between having a Director of Parks and Recreation be employed by the Township when that person was married to a Township Supervisor. However, members of the Board have failed to disclose to the residents their own conflicts of interest. For example, Mr. Pearson voted to remove opposition, but failed to inform anyone that his long-time companion, with whom he shares a residence with, is a member of the Zoning Hearing Board, and voted in favor of the application.
Mr. Bresnan stated in the 2/5 meeting, that the applicant had the burden of proof to prove a hardship. I sat through every part of that meeting and searched for evidence of a hardship for either the property owner nor the cell phone company, but none existed. It’s shocking that our neighbors in Lower Providence Township came upon the exact same situation, the exact same lawyer, the exact same issues, providing the exact same evidence, and yet their residents were protected by voting unanimously against, and denying the application.
However, our Township, and our Zoning Hearing Board, in spite of the applicant not proving that any hardship existed, voted to approve this application.
It’s puzzling to me why the applicant was not instructed to research other sites that within the search criteria that were not zoned residential. For example, one of the members of the Zoning Hearing Board, who also sits on the Spring-Ford Area School Board, said that if they had contacted the School District, the School District would be open to discussions of a possible additional source of revenue. If the applicant must prove that all avenues were exhausted, that was not proven during this period.
I’m not against progress, I’m not against cellular technology. I recognize the advances that are being made, the infrastructure that is needed to meet these growing demands. However, cell towers do not belong in the residential area, period. And I know you all agree with me, because you wrote it into our Township Code. There are plenty of other areas that could accommodate such requests. By your same logic, I should be able to get relief from the Township code for just about anything, including a 100’ cell tower on my own property, simply because I want the rental income, because one day, I’m going to retire as well. Everyone’s actions have consequences, and I’d like to remind you of that. I only urge you to do the right thing for all the residents of this community, rather than just for a small group of well-connected cronies.
Township Solicitor Joe Bresnan then attempts to do a little damage control on behalf of the majority of the Board, stating that the Planning Commission’s recommendation is not absolute and that essentially, the Board wants to remain independent from the Zoning Hearing Board, but he refuses to wade into the admittedly deep waters of Grasso’s cronyism accusation.
Barker disagrees with Bresnan, states that the Board sent the Solicitor to oppose this application to defend our ordinance, and that the Planning Commission recommended opposing the application on those grounds. He also notes that at one time, this Board was following the Planning Commission recommendations and now they are not.
Pearson does not address any of this.
As an aside, I would note that the member of the Zoning Hearing Board of which Mr. Grasso spoke is Gail Latch, who is not only John Pearson’s long-time companion, but was elevated to the status of “fiancé” back in 2010 upon his election that year, in order for her to qualify for Township health care benefits.
Another resident comes up (his name is not picked up by the microphones) and asks a few follow up questions about the Zoning Hearing Board decision, and says, “Well it seems that the building goes against the Code. So who is defending the Code?”
Bresnan attempts to make a case that with this action, the Zoning Hearing Board is actually defending the Code by deciding which applications will be getting relief.
In answer to that, there is some discussion as to whether the decision will be appealed and who can be a party to the appeal process. I hope the residents decide to appeal.
Exit question: If the entire purpose of withdrawing the Township Solicitor from opposing this application was to maintain the independence of the Zoning Hearing Board, how exactly, is that independence accomplished when John Pearson, the Chairman of the Board, is living with, and “engaged” to Gail Latch, a member of the Zoning Hearing Board?
Following the discussion regarding this development at the previous meeting, (see HERE) Attorney Mike Clement presents the applicant’s proposal to the Board: the Developer will pay fees in lieu of development in the amount of $55,000, with $15,000 being used to widen Spares Lane for approximately 215 feet. The Developer will place the remaining $40,000 in escrow, which they will give to the Township for Spares Lane improvements at the Township’s discretion. But if the Township decides that Spares Lane needs a mill and overlay (which it does), the Developer can do it cheaper than the Township due to prevailing wage, and they will use money from the established $40,000 escrow for that.
Vagnozzi has talked to the residents and wants to be sure that any paving and or widening will blend with the existing lawns, and that the Township will be able to direct placement of trees. Vagnozzi wants a commitment from the Board to look at widening the intersection of Spares and 29.
There have been some decisions made by (at least three members of) the Board with regard to the future of programming at the Township Recreation Center. Those changes have apparently been communicated to current members of the Rec Center, but not the Township population at large (not even in the recently mailed Township Newsletter, but more on that later).
Once again, a “staff-prepared” power point is used in service to distance the Board from their own decisions, and, once again, Township Manager Tim Tieperman is tasked with presentation.
I would guess that for most residents of Upper Providence, this meeting is the first time they are hearing anything about “programming changes” at the Rec Center. Tieperman begins by dispelling rumors that the Rec Center is closing, the proceeds to lay out a “vision” for the Rec Center going forward.
Articulating a “vision” for an entire department in the Township is a pretty bold move when two of the five Supervisors have obviously been shut out of any of these discussions. But lets put that thought on hold for a moment and see what “staff” has come up with.
The format and approach is similar to that of the special Fire and EMS presentation last April:
- Department Re-Org
- Establishment of Goals
- Reviewing Staff Recommendations
- Proposed Roadmap and Milestones
A selection of slides from the presentation follows:
Tieperman talked about the Center’s focus on fitness oriented in a fitness saturated market and the limitation of the facility’s size and scope as compared to other fitness center choices in the private sector. He also talked about the proliferation of private sector competition and the Township’s desire not to compete with private businesses.
Tieperman acknowledged that the Township needs to improve its marketing but this would have minimal impact on the competitive dynamic. A feasibility study for the Rec Center was completed 11 years ago targeting 4% resident participation in the Rec Center. The ultimate goal is to reallocate the $417,000 Rec Center budget to touch on more people–the goal being 15% to 20% of the population.
There was much discussion on the existing private businesses located both within the Township (those facilities highlighted in yellow in the slide above) and within two miles of the Township’s border. A visual of local fitness centers via Google Earth is illustrated in the graphic below:
Remember that $360,740 expense number in the slide above. It comes up several times in the ensuing discussion.
The 10 Step Goals of the Restructuring are as follows:
Township Reccomendations follow:
At the close of the presentation, Pearson reiterates that the Rec Center is not closing, they are merely re-purposing the space to serve a broader demographic (my word, not his) of residents. It is not, Pearson repeats, about the money.
This is an interesting sentiment coming from Pearson, who spent the better part of 2012, my first year on the Board of Supervisors, trying to convince me that the Rec Center, which had just opened in June of 2011, needed to be run like a business and that not only was then-Rec Director Sue Barker running it inefficiently, but it was losing money hand over fist. Pearson had the finance director produce reports backing up his assertion, which included expenses like heating, cooling, air conditioning, maintenance and internet. As I examined these reports, I asked him to explain how the accounting for these facilities expenses was handled for the Administration Building and the Public Works Building. Those expenses, it turns out, were dumped into a “building fund” and not counted against the budgetary operating costs of the Township’s other departments.
Apparently Pearson believed that Park and Rec was the only department in the Township that needed to show a profit and the Rec Center (a building approved and constructed during his term on the Board of Supervisors) the only building that had to cover its operating costs. This could either be a strongly held conviction of Pearson’s, or just another facet of his long-standing personal feud with Sue Barker. Since his grudging resentment of Sue Barker’s township employment, and not the profitability of the Rec Center, was one of the centerpieces of Pearson’s 2007, 2009, and 2017 campaigns, I will let readers draw their own conclusions.
Pearson then continues with, “Recreation will always be an expense, and we want to spend it wisely.”
Well, yes. Every service that the Township provides is an expense, from road maintenance to fire and police protection, to sewer, to planning, zoning and codes enforcement. Park and Rec is no exception, though it does have the most ability to offset those expenses with funds other than taxes. And the expenditure of tax dollars should always be done wisely.
Pearson then opens up the floor for questions, and the first resident (whose name I cannot discern on the video) asks about which programs are going to replace the ones they are getting rid of? When Pearson says he doesn’t know, it sounds like a laugh track from a 1980’s sitcom. As he stammers through a typical Pearson non-explanation explanation (“It’s like….you know….ehhhm”) he eventually sputters out that it’s a timing issue based upon the expiration of the leases for the fitness equipment. Our resident then follows up wanting to know that since the Township identified Marketing as a problem, what will they now be doing different? As a five year member of the Rec Center, she points out that there are a bunch of people who regularly hang out in the playground area and there is not even a Community Bulletin Board announcing what programs are available.
Tieperman goes through a list of potential programming, (book clubs, trail days, mother-daughter tea parties, park clean-up days, photography, nature study etc.) and by my count, less than half of these will utilize the space at the Rec Center currently being occupied by the fitness area and even fewer will be able to generate any revenue to offset the costs of this programming. I’m not sure why the fitness center has to be shuttered to accomplish this expanded programming, and this question is never really addressed.
The resident then says, so really the whole purpose of this is to say that the fitness area is being discontinued.
Before the next resident approaches, Barker notes that Public Works is scheduled to come in and do “some kind of work” on the facility, so obviously there is some kind of plan, but he hasn’t been told what that plan is. He also notes that some of the equipment is owned by the township, not all of it is rented and has there been any consideration given to just purchasing rather than renting equipment?
Tieperman answers that the decision has been made to get out of the fitness business and shouting begins from the audience.
In a surprise move, Pearson actually picks up his gavel and brings the meeting to order.
Resident Fred Schell then prompts some discussion on profitability, admonishing the Board to remember the Pottstown YMCA, whose mission was to provide health for the community and they shut down when it became all about money.
Resident Karen Vogel is amazed that the Township is unconcerned with the health of Township residents. Vogel’s suggestions center on how the Township could save money or raise fees for membership. She thinks it is a terrible mistake to get rid of the quality facility that the Township has. If it’s not being marketed correctly, then correct it!
When Pearson says, “It’s not about marketing,” the audience shouts him down in unison, “Yes it is!”
Claudia Chieffo wants to know if any of the Board members have seen any of the two petitions that have been going around, to which some of the Board members respond that they have seen one. She then asks the question that has been burning in my mind: what is the breakdown of the $360,740 expense noted in the slide presentation. She says, “I can break it down for you. Its staff members.” She says: Its people sitting around, talking on their phones, eating their dinner, not doing their jobs. When she says that she has seen 5 staff members on duty when she is the only one in the building, Pearson responds that this is why they are switching gears. And Chieffo says, “But why should we pay for your mismanagement?”
An answer to the budget question is not given at this time.
Pearson then states that the reason they are looking to shut this down is because nobody uses the facility, and the reason that the equipment is in good shape is because nobody uses it. This is met with a chorus of boos from the audience and more shouting.
At this point, Bresnan jumps in and, doing the job Pearson doesn’t want to do, brings the meeting to order, admonishing Chieffo that she cannot resort to “grilling” the Board over the habits of individual employees.
When Chieffo asks why there has been no marketing done to date, specifically directing this question at Barker (Barker wants to know, “Why are you asking me?” since he is clearly not a party to this plan), Chieffo makes a statement (that the microphone does not fully pick up) about unrealistically expecting to turn the rec center around in three months after hiring new director, and Tieperman, then Bresnan, jump in and tells her that she can make comments, but not ask questions or expect answers.
Even though this exchange got overly heated, in fairness, the residents were just invited by John Pearson only minutes before to come up to the microphone with their questions, and the Board would try to answer them.
Chieffo then states that the new director started with the Township, went into her office, closed the door and never solicited opinions from any of the Rec Center members. Chieffo takes her seat to applause from the audience.
The next resident then approaches (microphone cuts out during her remarks and her name cannot be heard) and makes the case for the Silver Sneakers program. When she states, “I know questions are not allowed….” Bresnan clarifies that what they are trying to avoid is the cross examination attacks against the Board. She says again that none of them were asked their opinion, and that all of this was just sprung on them. Tieperman states that they will continue the Silver Sneakers program in some form.
Next resident says “This facility is the best kept secret in the whole Township.” Again: No marketing. No warning. No input from current users.
Next resident Jeff (unintelligible due to mic cutout) asks, “Is this a final done deal, and is anything we say here tonight going to have any impact on the outcome?” When he is met with a beat of silence, he implores the Board, “It’s ok! Be honest!”
Pearson says, “Yeah, I’ll be honest. We need to go in a different direction here. It’s not working.” Which is met with another chorus of boos.
Pearson then says that even though there is a roomful of people here, there are 23,000 people in this township and that the small amount who have showed up to express upset about the Board’s decision just says to him that they are on the right path.
Resident Jeff says he’s not interested in any of the other programs they mentioned, he’s interested in the fitness center and he’s not going to waste any time talking because their decision is already made.
Resident Steve Taggart mentions that one of the first slides talks about ROI, but that Mr. Pearson said this is not about the money. Pearson corrects him and says he said it wasn’t MAINLY about the money. Taggart says that Townships are not about the ROI but about service to the residents. Pearson says it’s not about the money but “being fiscally responsible is, okay? We understand that Recreation is always going to be a loss; it’s always going to be an expense to the Township but we have to determine what’s best, how much money is best for the Township.”
Taggart notes that the facility wasn’t built to service 20% of the residents and if 20% of the residents came, they would be out of room. Pearson responds that that is why they are not going to spend marketing dollars on a facility that is lacking.
Barker jumps in and says that the feasibility study they had talked about servicing 4.4% of the residents and that they are currently servicing around 3%, which is not really bad for a facility of this size. He states that he has been a resident of the Township for 38 years, and a member of the fitness center. He then says that this is all moving way faster than he originally thought; his impression was that they were going to try to re-negotiate the leases on the equipment, not shut the fitness center down, and he’d like to see this come up for a vote on the next agenda.
This suggestion is met with hearty applause.
Barker clarifies for the audience, “This is the first public discussion we’ve had of this issue.” And Pearson responds, “Well, we’re not putting it up for a vote this evening.”
Calci, clearly unnerved because this is her project, says how good it is that we are having this open discussion. If it’s so great, why is his the first time it’s being discussed in public?
Taggart then notes that all of the residents were not notified by letter, they were, in fact notified via email and he wonders how many just skipped over the email or didn’t read it.
I can tell Mr. Taggart that I personally did not receive an email, or a letter, and I would guess that only active members of the Rec Center even got notified of this change. An easy way of doing this would perhaps have been by including it in the Township Newsletter, which seemed to have more than enough space to devote to marketing the Rec Center or communicating with residents. But more on that later.
The next resident, Jerry, comes up (and curse these awful microphones because this guy brings up a lot of great points and I’d like to give him credit!) and once again asks the burning question: Is the $360,740 of expense noted on the earlier slide attributed to the fitness center portion of the Rec Center, or the entire Rec Center? How much of that expense is directly attributable to the fitness center?
That is an answer that nobody knows and the resident is told that they will get back to him on that.
The $87,000 in revenues however, is all membership fees. Jerry’s point is that it is premature to close the only revenue generating component of the facility before they have even figured out what they are going to replace it with, or taken a survey of the residents. What is your plan to offset the costs of running this building? He wants to know.
When Pearson once again states that it’s not all about the money (a point that, no matter how often it has been repeated, has not been effectively delivered during this meeting) Jerry says, “I get that your number one metric is utilization. I just don’t understand how closing down the fitness center is going to increase utilization. You are almost at 3% now, it’s going to drop, because I know I’m not going to use this facility anymore.”
The next resident says it would be irresponsible to close the fitness center without doing a cost benefit analysis and I agree: the fact that no one at the township could ascertain which portion of the $360,740 expense is attributable to the fitness center and which is attributable to the operation of the building in general suggests that, at best, this analysis is incomplete.
But this, as previously mentioned, is typical of Pearson’s grasp of financial analysis and the costs of operating a facility. Regardless of the programming going on at the Rec Center, there will always be a cost associated with heating, cooling, maintenance, power, internet and staffing this building. Are all of those expenses solely attributable to the fitness center? Or does it cost $360,740 just to run the fitness center portion of the building? The ultimate question really is, how much of this cost disappears when the fitness center is shut down? This seems a very basic and critical bit of financial analysis for which staff should have had an answer readily available, but did not.
Pearson’s final thought on the subject after insisting that the decision has already been made numerous times this evening, is to let everyone know that they will “take it all under advisement. Who knows what can happen?”
What?? “Who knows what can happen?” I will tell you who knows what can happen: the Board of Supervisors. It’s their decision and these residents have been told at least twice in this meeting that this decision has already been made. Now Pearson is saying, that they will “take it under advisement” and “who knows what can happen?”
Has the decision to close the fitness center been made or not?
What we have here is a failure to communicate
So amid all of this head scratching and handwringing over marketing, and how to raise awareness of the Rec Center, coincidentally, the Township Newsletter hit my mailbox on the same day as this meeting. I note with interest that there is a quarter of page 2 devoted to Laurie Higgins’ self-promotion highlighting her participation in the Perkiomen Stream cleanup. As I stated previously, Higgins’ hobbies are not township business and belong on her own personal pages, or more appropriately, her campaign site.
Far more disturbing, however, is page six of the Township newsletter, seen below:
On June 19, I sent the following email to the Board of Supervisors and the Township Manager:
I have not yet received a response to this email as of the date of this post.
Point of full disclosure: The Township Newsletter historically included upcoming programming for the Park and Rec department, including classes, bus trips and events. In the last year of my tenure on the Board, the Board made a decision to remove the Rec programming from the Township Newsletter and make that a separate communication piece. That being said, the goal of the Board was to focus the Township newsletter on how township tax dollars were being spent and what business was before the Board of Supervisors.
I am not sure how supporting local farms qualifies as Township Business. Especially since one of those farm stands, Fran and Ann’s Produce Stand, is owned by the Duhovis’s who have already benefitted from a significant infusion of Township taxpayer dollars earlier this year with the preservation of their farm (see HERE and HERE for more information).
Make no mistake, I’m all for supporting local farms and this is not a commentary on the owners of these establishments. I just don’t think the Government should be in the business of picking and choosing winners and losers with regard to local, privately owned businesses.
Didn’t we just get through a huge discussion where one of the major points for discontinuing the fitness center was that the Township does not want to be competing with our local businesses? Yet here they are, promoting three privately-owned farm stands when there are not only several supermarkets in our township, but Produce Junction and several other smaller farms stands as well. And while I’m sure that these three privately owned farms and their businesses can benefit from the added visibility that in-home advertising can deliver, there are numerous other businesses in the Township that could also benefit from this kind of free marketing. (What’s next, Support your local Township Dive Bar?)
Our Rec Center membership program could have benefitted from this type of marketing. For that matter, the closing of the fitness center and an outline of the township’s Park and Rec roadmap could have been disclosed through this communication with residents, rather than the ham-handed email that was delivered to only a fraction of our residents and caused so much upset.
This information occupied a full page in our thrice-annual, taxpayer-funded, Township newsletter. That space could have been used to communicate to taxpayers about Township business or how their tax dollars are being used on township projects. Instead, it is being used to highlight pet projects and promote friends of the Board.
Not Drawn, but Quartered
On a recommendation from the Fire and Emergency Services Steering Committee to Implement the Glorious Milestones on the Road to Fulfilling Campaign Promises made on Quizzo Night, the Board is asked to grant the Black Rock Fire Company a fee waiver for minor electrical and mechanical alterations to the Black Rock Station. Assistant Manager Bortnichak has been in contact with BRVFC’s president Joe LoCasale and says the fee waiver is consistent with the Board’s resolution with moving some of the career staff down to the Black Rock Station in Oaks.
If this issue sounds familiar to regular readers, that’s because it has come up before (see HERE). In fact, it came up a just a month ago at the 5/21/18 Board of Supervisors meeting when apparently Barker was alerted to this development via a forwarded email immediately prior to stepping into the BOS meeting. In that email, it was apparent that BRVFC was moving forward with work to accommodate Township employees at the BRVFC’s Oaks station. Barker questioned why work to accomodate the Township’s agenda was moving forward when it had not been discussed by the Board and had not seen any plans for the improvements.
In the intervening four weeks, you’d think that someone could have informed Barker of the status of this project, or given him a drawing indicating the scope of this Township-dictated work, but once again, it appears that the decisions of this new five member board are being confined to just three members.
Apparently, Barker is still not privy to any designs or drawings on the modifications to the Oaks Fire Station, as it is unclear what work is being performed down there. When Barker remarks, “So, they are moving ahead with quarters? I guess I just thought that we would get a report to tell us what’s going on down there. So they’re just moving forward, is that it?” Bortnichak states that the Board can be updated every two weeks when Tieperman communicates with the Board (so the question remains: why hasn’t that happened yet?) but that staff is just moving ahead with the milestones as approved by the Board, the most urgent of which appears to be getting those career staff moved from their central location at the Township Building and re-quartered down there in the Oaks corner of the Township asap.
Other Board Business
- Authorizing design proposal for the Aschenfelter Bridge and amendment to capital budget due to significant erosion down near that bridge. It was identified as a deficient bridge in the 2016 budget. The cost is $119,000 and change just to do the design and the all in cost will be around $300,000 to $400,000. Vagnozzi inquires about the traffic counts on this and wants to know if that can be two cul-de-sacs rather than a through road. The Township’s traffic engineer states that the roads are too long for cul-de-sacs per the Township’s code. Pearson can’t get over the cost for this “little bridge” and actually suggests throwing steel plates over it, while Barker suggests that the Board should at least move forward with a design for budgetary reasons. Unsurprisingly, Pearson opts to kick the can down the road and do nothing.
- The demolition of structures at the Taylor Farm property needs to be discussed at a future meeting.
- Linfield Trappe Road and Township Line intersection: Township is partnering with Limerick Township and Rousch Chamberlain has asked that McMahon and Associates design the intersection, which creates a conflict because McMahaon would also review that plan for the Township. The Board approves this because they will get more “bang for their buck” in having McMahon do the design and the review. Tom Grasso approaches and asks whether the builder who built Providence Corner was supposed to be part of that intersection improvement. Bortnichak confirms that they were, but they opted instead to escrow $352,000 with the bank towards that project. Bortnichak also mentions that the Township is currently in negotiations with the Bank, who has apparently misplaced this money. Later, Bresnan remarks that the litigation on this matter is proceeding and he is going to add the builder as a party to the lawsuit.
- Black Rock trail has been approved by PennDOT and the Board approves authorization to advertising the bid package.
Several times during the meeting, Pearson complains about not being able to hear residents. Not that it matters. He’s not listening to them anyway. But the malfunctioning microphones were a needless distraction and my apologies if I have garbled any remarks here due to poor audio.
It’s interesting to watch Pearson’s interactions with residents when he’s not the one entreating them to grab their torches and pitchforks to storm the Board meeting. He’s dismissive, hostile and defensive. Additionally, I’m not sure I get the logic that allows him to draw a conclusion that a room full of people indicates that there is not much interest in an issue, something he did twice this year with the cell tower issue and now with the Rec Center.
It’s also interesting that now, after what has been a six months of irresponsible spending benefitting friends and pet projects, Pearson is trying to come across as some kind of fiscally responsible Supervisor by nickel and diming on things like the fitness center and the Aschenfelter Road bridge, but thinking nothing on blowing a quarter of a million dollars on a limited use Medic Responder or almost $90,000 on preserving a private farm.
Finally, I’d note that a pattern of non-communication has been firmly established in the inaugural six months of the five member board. It is regularly observable that decisions have not only been made outside of the public eye, but acted upon, without the full knowledge of the entire Board of Supervisors (specifically, Barker and Vagnozzi), let alone their approval. If the Township voted to expand the Board from three to five members under the premise that more points of view on the Board of Supervisors are better, why are two of those voices routinely being shut out of the decision making process by the very man who was a leader of this initiative? Aren’t we just back to having a three member Board of Supervisors again?
Just a rhetorical question for contemplation. I already know the answer.
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