There hasn’t been much news to comment on from the last two Lower Saucon Township council meetings on January 20 and February 3. There have been a lot of housekeeping items – requests by individual residents for various variances, authorization of purchases and payments, RFPs, authorization to collect 2021 real estate taxes (I know that makes us all happy), and a lot of 5-0 votes coupled with little obnoxious behavior. All in all, a pretty slow period.
With that being the case, I’d like to take a little time to discuss three items I find of interest.
Meadows Road Bridge
The February 3rd meeting included a lengthy discussion with the PennDOT representative who came to discuss their Structural Analysis Report of the Meadows Road bridge. This is a subject that has come up multiple times in the past year and it always seems to be accompanied by a lot of emotion, especially among residents who call in. I hope that they were either listening to the meeting or will take the time to read the minutes of this enlightening discussion. The PennDOT guy (I’m sorry – I didn’t catch his name) gave a thorough and cogent explanation of the four concerns that PennDOT is required to address – structure, safety, flooding and multi-modality – as they pertain to the bridge. He then explained the three possible solutions – repair, replace or remove – with the plusses and minuses involved in each solution. Council members asked probing and intelligent questions and elicited knowledgeable answers from the PennDOT person about what the possibilities are. Although the council members seem to be disappointed with PennDOT’s conclusion that the bridge needs to be replaced, nevertheless they showed a clear-eyed pragmatism and recognition of the advantages of that solution while at the same time proposing reasonable ways to commemorate or memorialize the current antique structure. All in all, this is the kind of constructive interaction one hopes to find in public officials all working toward the common goal of the public good.
Each of the two meetings contained presentations by developers looking for various approvals to move forward with their projects. On Jan. 20, representatives of the development at the Steel Club presented further details of their plan. I was struck by the extent to which these developers are addressing issues of water management relative to the creek that meanders through the property. As a sustainability consultant myself, I found their commitment to taking pro-active measures to mitigate future flooding, even where not directly connected with the development that they’re planning on doing, to be a laudable commitment. I realize that this is also of economic value to them as it improves the value of their property, but there are plenty of developers whose response would be “we don’t have to do it, so we won’t.” They seem to be more concerned that it’s done correctly for long-term value and they should be commended for that.
The other developer presentation on February 3 regarding the Stonewood Longridge subdivision was notable as an example of a developer who has clearly communicated often and openly with the township in developing their project. Council members seemed to be well-informed of what had been done over the course of this apparently long development cycle and seemed eager to approve the plans. The discussion also included a fascinating explanation of how the fire company responds to fires in areas that are not part of the public water system and have no access to natural water sources (ponds, streams, etc.). Clearly the developers have been working with both the Council and the fire company to develop the best plans for their residents. Another example of how transparency and collaboration deliver good government service.
Park/Pavilion Use Rules
Back in the Fall, you may remember, there was considerable uproar about the conflicting and deficient rules and regulations that govern the use of various Township park facilities, especially the rental of pavilions. At that time, several Council members deflected discussion of the problems by claiming that the budget discussions in progress were far more important. There was a promise to address the problems in the future. Well, reservations for park facilities for 2021 have now been open since January and one assumes that those 2021 reservations have been made under the same inadequate and contradictory rules that applied back in Fall 2020. With two relatively light meeting agendas on Jan. 20 and Feb. 3, one might have thought that either of those meetings would have been a good time to address this on-going issue. One would have been wrong.
At one point we were told that the issue now resides with the Parks and Recreation Committee and yet they have not brought any workable solutions to Council. Wouldn’t now be a good time to resolve this issue while there is relatively little work for Parks and Rec to do? Perhaps we can expect to see this as an agenda item for the March 3rd meeting or, at the latest, the April 7th meeting before we start hearing that Parks and Rec can’t tackle it because it’s the busy time of year when the parks are in use?
Next Township Council Meeting – Wednesday, March 3, 6:30 PM
Next Township Elections – Primary: Tuesday, May 18, 2021. General: Tuesday, November 2, 2021