2008-03-13 Ambler Environmental EAC Minutes

Notes EAC Meeting March 13, 2008

Susan Curry will take notes for this meeting. Feb. 11, 2008 minutes have been misplaced.


  1. Energy Star Training – existing buildings retrofits:  March 20, 1-2:30 West Chester U — Alert Ron Myers to these opportunities. He will be permitting and inspecting more of this in the future.
  1. Backyard Composting workshop –March 27, April 28 or May 22—Three repeated workshops by PRC Backyard Composting in Chester Co; $30 attendance fees get a bin [Jill felt the workshop would repeat what she already knows.] Discussed conducting a Backyard Composting workshop in Ambler every three years, as more homeowners become interested every year. Supports having less trash tonnage, and increasing nutrients in local soil, and therefore less commercial fertilizer.
  1. Watershed Workshop led by PennFuture — March 29, Brandywine River Museum. No one to go.
  1. April 26 — Wissahickon Stream Clean-up  (8:30 – 11:30 AM) Susan Curry will be team leader.  Six weeks to go.  Involve Charlie Stewart. Call the boy scouts; get water and gloves; arrange for donuts, juice and coffee; get bags from WVWA.


  1. TMDLs for AWWTP, Borough committee meeting:  – Bill Brown has recommended that Ambler aim to reduce phosphorous and not nitrates; Ambler Gazette article alerts community to a raise in sewer fees from $87 to $400 per household.
  1. Planning Commission:  Residents of Overlook Drive whose backyards become lakes due to soil conditions are unhappy with Borough permitting of Artman Lutheran Home.  EAC discussed planting trees and native shrubs to soak up the water faster. Need to investigate if there is money to support that, and then if homeowners would prefer having a forested backyard instead of a soggy backyard.
  1. CAG on Asbestos Site:  EPA has determined the actions they will do to “remove the immediate danger”.  Actions focus on stabilizing the Wissahickon stream banks, piping Tannery Run and Rose Valley Creek, soil coverings on visible white spots and removal of visible pipes.  Actions will cost $1 million to $5 million, will take a year to complete.  An EPA trailer and permanent fence will be on site where staff will be available once a week for citizen communication.  Once the vegetation takes hold, EPA will close the “Removal” books. It seems unlikely that EPA will list the site on the NPL listing which results in a conscientious study of what is there at the site and concludes with recommendations about what kinds of development are suited for the site. The reason it is unlikely is that each region gets one project per year and there are actually 6 or 7 projects in our region that are more egregious.  Once applied for and declined, it is very rare for a site to be reconsidered.  April likely for an EPA public meeting where the plan, costs and timeline will be announced.
  1. H.   Streamside ConsultationsOur WREN presentation at Schuylkill River Watershed Congress–Skipped report due to time. Susan Curry’s workshop was attended by about 30 people who rated it as the best workshop of the conference. We have decided to postpone applying for a WREN grant until 2009 to work with Upper Dublin EPAB on a joint project to extend the Streamside Consultations up stream along Rose Valley and Tannery Run.
  1. Climate change and energy use reduction at EAC conference was the primary focus of most of the workshops this year.  Information was shared about how EACs can conduct a fairly simple “energy audit” of one borough account, say the Borough Hall. Using a checklist, find places and areas where a change in practices, or equipment could reap savings. It was noted that the monthly PECO bill for combined Borough and AWWTP operations is $70,000! Susan C. will contact Mary Aversa to build support. David will speak at the next Council meeting and request encouragement to proceed. Susan C. will check with Jim Dougherty and Jim Wack if the borough already has LED traffic lights.  These $7,000 lights tend to pay for themselves in 3 years in the PECO area. David was in favor of taking this on as our major project for the year. It need not distract from the recycling efforts he is leading, nor from our sponsoring a Rain Garden workshop later this fall. Susan C. will find out what other municipalities have done these energy audits.


  1.  Ambler Main Street “Green Committee”—Susan C. now chairs a committee with David Morgan, Denine Wish, Matthias Hufnagel (architect from Germany with Phillips Architects), and Bernadette.  Purpose:  Support businesses in having more earth-friendly practices, in their purchasing, operations, and recycling.  First initiative: aim to have the businesses contract as a bundle with ONE waste hauler, who truly recycles. Tasks: door-to door interview of current recycling practices and constraints to learn what advantages we can highlight and what disadvantages we need to over come to enroll businesses in this idea; create posters “The Cycle of Re-Cycling” which show what happens to each material after it is deposited in recycling; get list of waste haulers from NMCRC; phone survey waste haulers on interest – why or why not; explore a grant to help pay for buying out of the left over contracts.  Matthias is also drawing up a list of standard business operations in Germany; and reviewing Borough ordinances to see where LEED standards can be inserted.  The committee meets weekly at 4:00 pm at the Mermaid Studio.
  1.  Recycling:  David Morgan has conversed with Anita and Jimmy Wack about interim recycling containers to have recycling cans next to every trash can in the parks. David wants to encourage the coaches to hand out coupons to kids that are seen recycling. Susan C will encourage Mary Aversa to earmark a certain percentage of the state recycling performance grants for increasing recycling efforts.  This fund could help pay for attractive containers in the parks, and eventually along the streets.
  1. L.    Trees: 
    1. Downtown Tree Management Policy with $5,000 DCED grant:  Susan C., David and Ron determined the scope of downtown trees to include all street trees and parking lot trees, that is: Lindenwold, Butler, Race, Main, and parking lots – Cavalier, Ambler Savings, and Ambler Coffee (Lot 3).  Not the park trees.  Susan C will meet with Jimmy Wack, Friday March 14 to present the plan for proceeding, and investigate his approval for having a Tree Commission, which will mean his looking at last year’s expenses to see if Ambler could qualify for a Tree City designation without any additional expense.
    2. Bare Roots Trees – ten trees were planted, 4 at homes, 1 at Mattison School, 5 at parks (2 –Pickering, 3-Knight). Jimmy Wack watered the park trees. All have been mulched. Ambler Tree Tenders meet April 17 to reassign the watering care for 2008.
    3. New tree pits: for 3-4 trees on Race (and Main?) – Jim Dougherty has submitted a plan for Race Street where there won’t need to be any grates.  The trees can be in pits open to the air.
  1.  Rain Gardens Workshop – Judy inquired whether fences are needed around these.  Susan C responded they are generally not deeper than 6” (like a ditch) and have vegetation planted around and in them making it clear that it is not a walk-through site. Water collected from a rain storm is supposed to filter down within 2 to 6 hours, so it is not deep enough for drowning and does not pose a safety problem.