2012-09-20 Ambler Environmental EAC Minutes

Ambler Environmental Advisory Council

Date: Thursday, September 20, 2012     6:45 to 8:15 PM

Member Attendance:

Candace Kanaplue, Susan Curry, Susan Johnsson, Sue McDowell, Ken Trautwein, Estelle Wynn Dolan     Quorum in attendance.

Member Absence:

Skip Kershner

Next Meeting Date: Tuesday, October 16   6:45 to 8:30pm at Sue McDowell’s house.  The normal regularly scheduled Thursday date was a conflict for at least 3 of us.

  1. 1.          Review Borough Council notes – Susan J handed out a copy of a proposal from PEC which invited Ambler to join a consortium for satisfying the public outreach and other education aspects of the NPDES guidelines. SusanJ next reported that a neighbor on Valley Brook and Bethlehem Pike had won a FEMA grant? to restore eroded stream banks using rip-rap. Project cost estimates varied from $40,000 to $70,000.  EAC unanimously resolved to inform the Borough Manager that we support Ambler joining the PEC consortium.
  1. 2.          Budget Plan for 2013 (See attached Proposed Budget—unanimously approved by 4 members and confirms by two late arriving members)
  1. 3.          OctoberFest Booth 10:00 to 5:00 October 6:      Sue McDowell encouraged us to staff a booth in order to promote rain gardens. She can provide the literature; Estelle can provide a table; Susan J, Sue and Ken can take 2.25 minute shifts.  Susan C will provide the EAC banner and mounting string/rope/bungie cords.
  1. 4.          Temple Ambler Watersheds Study   Meeting will be tomorrow. Susan C will attend.
  1. 5.          Household Hazardous Waste  Two more county collections are scheduled: October 20 at Lower Merion Public Works, 1300 N. Woodbine Ave. Penn Valley PA 19072; and November 15 at Montgomery Mall from 9:30 to 3:00 (will take tires and electronics).  Susan C inquired if any other EAC members are saving the TerraCycling items and taking them to David.  Susan C. offered to let EAC members drop off bags of collected stuff at her porch and she would take them over to David.
  1. 6.          Rain Gardens Campaign:  Three rain gardens will be installed this fall in October at Sue McDowell’s, Skip and Scotti’s and Theresa Swartz’s property. Ken Trautwein’s property did not pass the soil and perc test. Susan J and Estelle’s properties were tested in advance of a spring installation.

Funding through the Rain Gardens for the Bays Campaign is available for plant material and mulch as long as we submit invoices by Sept. 30 (really Sept. 28 since the 30th is on a Sunday).  Starting in 2013, we plan to install five rain gardens each spring and five each fall.

Ambler EAC support for this multi-year effort will entail: a) Susan Curry and Sue McDowell finding funding for plants and mulch, b) Sue McDowell developing partnerships with organizations and businesses for workshop presenters and in-kind donations, c) Susan Curry revving up volunteer help for digging and building the rain gardens, d) Ken Trautwein providing homeowner liaison, education, schedule coordination and reminders to support homeowner ongoing maintenance responsibilities, e) Susan Johnsson providing financial accounting and reports to funders, and f) hopefully Estelle and Skip providing photography, publicity and outreach.

Homeowners need to be reminded to make PA ONE CALLs.  The amount of mulch was determined to be 3” depth; 150 square feet = 1 cu. Ft. triple shredded mulch. All members were asked to send Ken a short list of neighbors/ friends in Amber who might be approached about having a rain garden.  Ken will make the approach after contact information is provided.

Ken will draw up draft Homeowner Agreements that request partnership of labor, other in-kind services, and suggested donations.  We expect a cost of $400 per 50 square feet of garden. Homeowner is expected to: assist with the digging and planting; assist with other gardens; maintain the garden (weeding and watering first year); replace plants as needed; redirect their down spout, pay a $25 fee for the workshop; help determine the location, size, shape and plantings for their unique garden

Installation dates are October 20, 21 (Sue McDowell’s) and 27, 28 (Scotti and Skip). POST MEETING NOTE: and new date of October 14 was added for the Swartz garden.

Ideas for later consideration:  Contest to win a garden. Continuous promotion by slides and table at the Sustainability Movie Series and Octoberfest. Offer a garden installation as an Eagle Scout project.  Auction rain gardens where homeowners bid what money and services they will provide for in order to get a rain garden – we select the most cost-effective proposals.  Prepare a case studies report, and organize a tour of the rain gardens to build wider interest.

  1. 7.          Miscellaneous:  Estelle circulated an email from Julianne Schieffer promoting several conferences and events.  There are funds in the EAC budget to pay for or partially pay for registration fees if any member is interested in a workshop.  Estelle is considering one.


  1. ALL MEMBERS:  Mark your calendars to help if you can Oct. 14, 20, 27; send a short list to Ken of neighbors and ambler friends who might be approached to install a rain garden in 2013 or 2014  trautwein.k@gmail.com.
  2. Susan C will repeat her inquiry with Public Works about whether they would match the EAC with $275 cost to purchase another set of ClearStream event recycling stands; contact Ron Ayres about the decline in the tree outside of Zina’s Café; invite particular council persons to participate in getting a rain garden; identify plant nurseries for the first phase rain garden and make the Fall plants order and prepare the Sept, 30 invoice; Be alert to grant opportunities (WREN, Growing Greener, etc.) and schedule proposal writing in her schedule; locate the EAC banner and deliver to Sue McDowell’s house for Octoberfest set-up; send a short list to Ken of neighbors and ambler friends who might be approached to install a rain garden in 2013 or 2014.
  3. Susan McD will continue to reach out to new partnerships for the Rain Gardens Campaign; she will engage in site preparation for one of the first rain gardens; confirm the date and plant preferences for her neighbor Theresa Swartz to have a rain garden; stay alert to the growing Greener grants announcement, send a short list to Ken.
  4. Ken Trautwein will develop homeowner agreements; receive and compile every EAC member’s short list of neighbors to approach to install a rain garden next year.
  5. Susan J will continue to observe, liaison with and report on Council meetings, send a short list to Ken.
  6. Skip send a short list to Ken of neighbors; provide list of preferred plants.
  7. Estelle send a short list to Ken; email Julianne’s announcement of conferences and events.
  8. Candace send a short list to Ken.
  9. Justin Murray send a short list to Ken.


  • Artman Becoming Center and Nursing Home needs a rain garden – there are a couple of swales that could be planted.
  • ClearStream Recycling stands for Ambler events
  • Tour of the incineration plant postponed until 2013
  • CVS should plant new trees as promised to replace 2 dead ones, along with supporting or replacing one leaning tree, replacement trees do not need to go in the exact same spots.
  • Where do the new street sewers flow to and outfall (such as one installed at the corner of Bethlehem and Tennis?
  • Justin mentioned a “stand pipe” solution to the Fire Department’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.
  • Inquire of Ron Myers about the backyard chicken ordinance for Ambler.
  • Suggest a tree species for the empty Ambler Savings tree pit.

Meeting was adjourned at 8:35 PM.