2011-01-11 Ambler Environmental EAC Minutes

Date: Monday, January 10, 2011 6:45 to 8:30 PM

Member Attendance:
Susan Curry, Dan McCormick, Skip Kershner, Estelle Wynn Dolan, David Morgan.
Quorum in attendance

Associate Member Attendance:
Karen Salvadore

Visitor Attendance:
Karen Salvadore Gina Ricci (Conshohocken EAC).

Members Absent:
Susan Johnsson, Candace Kanaplue.

Next Meeting Date: Monday, February 14, 2011 6:45 to 8:30 PM

1. EAC Passions – Members shared what issue drew them to be interested in serving on the EAC. All members present stated TREES. Karen Salvadore added Energy Conservation, and Susan Curry added storm water management. Visitor Gina said their EAC posted a survey on their town’s website asking residents to indicate their concerns to gauge what the community thought was needing EAC attention. The Conshohocken EAC took on recycling and starting a community garden.
• Consider asking the Borough if they would facilitate a survey on their web site – or maybe in the next Home Towns News.
ACTION ITEM: Karen will investigate where she might get free trees for homeowners to plant wherever they wish in their yards. David gave Karen Julianne Schieffer’s phone. Upper Dublin has a program of free container trees? Conshohocken has had a program of free bare roots trees. Estelle will study the Downtown Tree Management Policy binder to determine 2 top priority actions to encourage the Borough to adopt.

2. Events to Save the Dates
• The annual Pennsylvania Environmental Council conference for southeastern Pennsylvania EACs will be held on Saturday, April 9 at Villanova University. Dan and Estelle expressed interest in going.
• The annual Wissahickon Stream Clean-up is likely to be Saturday, April 30 from 9:00 AM to 11:00 AM. Susan requested someone to lead the effort. Last year it was Candace and Susan J., both of whom were not present to claim leadership.
ACTION ITEM: SusanC to ask Candace and Susan J if they will lead the Stream Cleanup again this year.

3. 2011 EAC Budget Review – A revised draft budget was circulated by email prior to the meeting. An error in the membership amount for PEC released $60 for reallocation. The EAC discussed and approved expending $40 to sponsor a table at the April 12 Sustainability Movie Series on plastic bags waste stream – an ideal topic to sell the remaining canvas bags we still hold
ACTION ITEM: SusanC will request a $40 check for a table at the April 12 movie; also request an EAC member to staff the table from 6:30 to 7:45 pm, and send an email with the movie series information to EAC members.

4. WREN Grant proposal – The Borough, with EAC authoring, could get a $5,000 grant from Water Resources Education Network of League of Women Voters. Susan C proposed we apply for funds to purchase rain barrels for the homes in the storm water catchment area that feed one storm sewer outfall at the end of Edgewood Drive where excessive erosion is cutting a wider channel and threatening the foundations of the Eagle Scout bridge while adding a great deal of flood water to Borough Park. Proposal is due March 9, 2011. Borough Council would need to approve submitting the grant in February. If we get the grant, it will be necessary for EAC members to go door to door to educate and enroll homeowners in accepting one or more rain barrels.
• Perhaps, we could build homeowner interest through having demonstrations of rain barrels on close circuit TV shows at the high school.
• We could strive to partner with Philadelphia Water Dept. or Schuylkill Nature Center to offer FREE rain barrels.
• Dan told us about “rain bladders” which can hold various amounts of water, but can sit under decks and be out of the way while accomplishing slow release infiltration of rain water.
ACTION ITEM: SusanC will inquire with Mary Aversa if there is an alternative project she would prefer. If not, SusanC. to draft a proposal by January 26, to submit to Council on Feb. 1.

5. Woodlands Ordinance – Susan C. collected and merged all questions that EAC members had submitted regarding the draft Clean Water Action ordinance to protect trees. Essentially, the only time the ordinance would be applied would be if a land-owner wanted to subdivide or build on their property which would activate getting permits. Any trees that would be removed would require the property owner to replace an equal sum of calipers somewhere in the Borough to match the total calipers removed. This ordinance would support an ever increasing canopy in Ambler.
• Estelle and David expressed concern that the ordinance was long, and might seem daunting to a homeowner. Susan C. wondered if Planning Commission would rule that a new ordinance is not needed because they informally encourage planners to do this already .
ACTION ITEM: Estelle will try to review the ordinance to find places to shorten it. SusanC to ask Clean Water Action if they can shorten and simplify the ordinance. Then, bring it to Mary Aversa for Council consideration.

6. Council Observations –
• Trash Hauler Contract: David shared notes from the Jan. 4 Council agenda. Notable: New trash and curbside recycling hauler BFI/Allied/Republic. New single-stream recycling roller/toters had not been distributed to all homes. Education about what can be recycled in the new toters is supposed to be inside the containers when delivered. Contract goes until 2014 when the state mandated contract with the steam incinerator ends.
• David invited Ken Anderson of BFI/Allied/Republic to come to a future EAC meeting.
• Borough is making water line insurance available for homeowners in case their water pipes break between the street main and their house – homeowner responsibility to repair.
• EAC claimed Council dates to observe: Jan. 18 (Dan); Feb. 1 (Estelle), Feb. 15 (Karen), March 1 (Skip), March 15 (Susan C).
ACTION ITEM: EAC members to manage their calendars to keep the dates they claimed. SusanC to meet with new hauler to revive the Green Committee project toward a single hauler for commercial businesses.

7. Home Energy Audits – Susan C. brought to everyone’s attention a 3-year program of Energy Works Energy Coordinating Agency is offering $400 energy audits(215) 609-1052. After the homeowner submits $1,000 worth of expenses in fixing items that were reported in their audit report, the homeowner will get a $300 refund. They also have low-interest loans until end of spring 2011. Susan C just took advantage of the offer. www.ecasavesenergy.org
ACTION ITEM: SusanC to inquire how long the offer will be available, and aim to advertise it in the next Home Towns News.

8. Plastic Bag Free Ambler – Susan C shared that CVS has a “green bag tag” for $1.00. Every four times a customer shows the green bag tag and rejects a plastic bag to carry their items out of the store, the customer gets a $1.00 off their next purchase. Every time the green bag tag is used between now and the end of March 2011 and additional 5 cents will be donated to World Wildlife Fund. Visitor Gina showed her “green Bag tag” and expressed that CVS was not very proactive in marketing the tags to customers.
ACTION ITEM: SusanC to speak with the CVS store manager to encourage all cashiers to ask the question: Do you have a green bag tag? And explain the program. SusanC to check with Mary Aversa about whether Main Street newsletter would encourage more businesses like CVS and Ambler Savings to promote non-use of plastic bags in their own way.

9. Bird town USA – Estelle attended a presentation at the Audubon Society. She was not happy with the $850 “participation” fee.
• Estelle encourages us to explore promoting the free National Wildlife Foundation backyard habitats program.
ACTION ITEM: No action at this time.

10. Purchasing wetlands for sale – Susan C. was unsuccessful finding funding from the county or Montgomery County Lands trust. Had anyone approached the WVWA?
ACTION ITEM: SusanC to verify that the land is still for sale, then ask if WVWA wants to get involved.

11. Red Earth Farm CSA – Estelle’s house will be an Ambler drop-off location for people to pick up their box of food who become CSA members. The farm should be mailing a brochure in the coming weeks, which Estelle can email to EAC members to share with other members of the community–buy fresh buy local and all!
ACTION ITEM: No action at this time.

12. Road Salt – David Morgan noted that a recent Philadelphia Inquirer article, Dec. 29, 2010, dealt with the increasing levels of salt in the water supply. David asked if members of the EAC knew anyone working with research on substitutes, including beet juice, mentioned in the article. He noted that efficient spreading so that salt is not wasted on banks of roads is another area for research and savings of tax money. Salt sprayed poorly creates unnecessary salt that runs off into the tributaries, to the Wissahickon, the Schuylkill and eventually the Delaware river, getting more and more salinity down stream.
• Sand was discussed as less damaging alternative to the waterways.
ACTION ITEM: SusanC to inquire on the EAC Network if other municipalities are doing something better, or have a way to spread it so that it hits where it will do the most good.
Meeting adjourned at 8:20 pm