2012-07-19 Ambler Environmental EAC Minutes

Ambler Environmental Advisory Council

Date: Thursday, July 19, 2012     6:45 to 8:15 PM

Member Attendance:

Susan Curry, Susan Johnsson, Candace Kanaplue, Sue McDowell, Estelle Wynn Dolan, Ken Trautwein

Quorum in attendance.

Member Absence:

Skip Kershner.


Justin Murray

Next Meeting Date: Thursday, Aug. 16, 2012   6:45 to 8:30pm Boro Hall Conference Room –We agreed not to skip August due to the actions related to the Ambler Rain Gardens Campaign

  1. 1.          Review Borough Council notes –Congratulations for the appointment to our EAC of Sue McDowell and Ken Trautwein.  No current issues of environmental concern were transparent on this month’s agenda.
  1. 2.          Review of EAC Website — The “Links” list was reviewed.  Members will email SusanC their suggestions for additional sites to link to. www.AmblerEAC.org
  1. 3.          Rain Gardens Campaign:  It seems every EAC member lives in a home where the property is large enough to host one or more Rain Gardens. A general announcement of our campaign will appear in the new Home Town news.  We aim to install at least two rain gardens by December.  October is a good month to plant.  There is a grant which will fund plant material and other relevant costs that requires us to submit invoices by Sept. 30.  After we install our first 5-7 demonstration rain gardens, we’ll prepare a case studies report, and organize a tour of the rain gardens to build wider interest. Ultimately, we envision a bigger effort to have twenty to fifty Ambler Borough homes install a garden on their property as a means of flood abatement and pollution reduction.  Ambler EAC support for this multi-year effort will include: a) funding for plants and mulch, b) technical advice, c) volunteer help in digging and building the rain gardens, and d) education and reminders to support homeowner ongoing maintenance responsibilities.
  1. 4.          Review of prior meetings items:
  1. Recycling Containers:  There is a trash can now right next to the Recycling container at Rita’s, and our newest container at Pickering Field. The trees along Butler above Lindenwold are completely mulched. Our sincere appreciation for Public Works’ support on these.  If we can acquire matching funding from the Borough, we can purchase a second set of 5 Clearstream event recycling stands.  Ken said he would manage reminders or actions to get the stands set up before events, collected and disposed properly, and stands restored in their storage place, if SusanC would send him a list of the events and dates.
  2. Terracycling.net funds organizations that collect a wide variety of items that curbside recycling cannot. Estelle will keep this in mind for the Ambler Food Co-op.
  3. Boro Park – Ken helped SusanC with weed whacking; part of the fence piles have been picked up by WVWA.  Needed soon: three volunteer events — more fences need to come down (poles pulled up after a good rain), and wraps placed on tree trunks to help them survive the deer rubbing season (August through early October) and then taken off for the winter.
  4. d.     Ambler Food Coop – The steering committee has chosen a name and mission statement.  There are three operating committees. The Ambler Food Coop is on the national map and part of a consortium of coops.  If anyone mentions the Ambler Food Coop when they sign up to buy their energy from Energy Coop, $40 will be donated to the Food Co-op.
  5. e.      Home Grown Institute —Estelle gave a glowing report about how well the activities of the day that she attended built in community/relationship building.  Every participant helped to cut the vegetables for the lunch meal. Groups that made useful structures such as a backyard chicken coop tractor auctioned off their units. Already a bee keeper, Estelle attended the chicken tending workshop.
  1. 5.          OTHER:  Marcellus Shale – SusanC attended a forum the previous evening about Act 13 which grants a “uniform zoning scheme” where it was appallingly clear that neither the federal nor our state government is protecting us from allowing the natural gas industry to poison us. This is absurd, egregious and deserves full protest from everyone by calling, letters, visits to offices, and questioning them at events where the representatives will be. Act 13 takes away local rule–it overrides municipal zoning ordinances about where the natural gas industry may place its wells, impoundment pits, pipes, and compressor stations. A scorecard on how Montgomery state elected servants voted was handed to every EAC member.  The “temporary moratorium for Montgomery and Bucks County is basically meaningless.  Gas has been found in our shale deposits.  Pennsylvania has the most lax regulations; as a result, gas companies are bringing in the equipment that is the dirtiest (doesn’t have to pass highway emissions tests) and most unsafe from other states.  Roads will be ruined.  Recommended improvements: HEALTH: do a baseline test or well water and a health survey before fracking and 6 months later; ask for a health registry that will track exposures to the fracking chemicals;  STRONGER LAWS:  Ban impoundment pits, prevent piping crossing streams, Sustain municipal zoning ordinances and encourage municipals without ordinances to enact them quickly. Set up more impact fees and severance fees.  More information at ProtectingOurWaters.com
  2. 6.          Miscellaneous:  1. A new street sewer was installed at the corner of Bethlehem and Tennis.  Where does it outfall? 2. The Borough plans to repave Butler Ave in 2013 – it would be the ideal time to install Silva Cells. Sue McDowell shared a handout that shows a significantly cheaper “tree trench” that Philadelphia is installing; she mentioned a source of funding that could award even $260,000.. 3.  Justin mentioned a “stand pipe” solution to the fire Deparment’s need for access in the new Bottom Dollar parking lot – though more expensive, it would allow the green islands with trees in the parking lot which fire engine maneuverability would not.


1)     Every member will research and understand where and what size rain garden(s) would fit on their property; we took home handouts to read with websites to visit.

2)     Susan C will contact Meenar of Temple Ambler to seek a meeting about the watershed study; she will organize three events in August and October to accomplish work needed in Boro Park; she will get an invoice from Ron Ayres for the 4 trees planted along Butler and find out if there is a warranty for the two trees in Lynch’s side strip which seem to have died; she will inquire when Public Works can accomplish Butler tree pits rewidening; work with Mary Aversa and Ron Ayres to identify a tree species and vendor to replace the one that Ambler Savings cut down in their concern for sidewalk buckling; she will email to the committee the contact information for all EAC members and associates; inquire with the Borough whether they would match the EAC with $275 cost to purchase another set of ClearStream event recycling stands; invite Sue McD and Ken to develop a “needs and timeline” for the first phase of the Ambler Rain Gardens Campaign; invite particular council persons to participate in getting a rain garden, identify plant nurseries for the first phases rain gardens;  She will send Ken a list of the Ambler Main Street events so he can activate set up, use and appropriate collection of the ClearStream recycling containers, if we get them; she will schedule a meeting with Sue McDowell, Mary Aversa, Tom Kenny, Tony Isabella and Bob Rocco to explore tree trenches along Butler Ave and applying for the large community stormwater management grant.

3)     Susan McD will send in her photo and bio for the EAC website; she will visit all of our properties to clarify which yards might go first (notify us when she can go in case anyone is able to go with her); she will meet with Ken and SusanC to plan the first phase of the Ambler Rain Gardens Campaign; she will sseek agreement from a colleague to come to Ambler to assist with the Rain Gardens; she will provide dates when she could meet with the Boro to discuss tree trenches and funding.

4)     Ken Trautwein will send in his photo and bio for the EAC website; he will begin to bring 10 or more gallons per week when it doesn’t rain to the 2 or 4 trees planted along Butler and Lynch’s gas station.

5)     Susan J will continue to observe, liaison with and report on Council meetings; she will inquire of Ron Myers what the backyard chicken ordinance is for Ambler.

6)     Justin will send links regarding residential and commercial energy for placement on the EAC website.

7)     Estelle will submit an article for the Home Town News on the Pickering Field and Rita’s water ice recycling containers; she will submit a brief report on the Ambler Food Co-op to Mary Aversa and Tony Isabella.

Hold over ideas:  Artman needs a rain garden; ClearStream Recycling stands for Ambler events; tour of the incineration plant; CVS planting new trees as promised to replace 2 dead ones, along with support of one leaning tree.

Meeting was adjourned at 8:45 PM.