2012-10-16 Ambler Environmental EAC Minutes

Ambler Environmental Advisory Council

Date: Tuesday, October 16, 2012     7:00 to 9:15 PM

Member Attendance:

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


Justin Murray, Scotti Kershner

Next Meeting Date: Tuesday, November 13   7:00 to 9:00 pm at Borough Hall).  The normal regularly scheduled Thursday date was a conflict for at least 2 of us.  The starting time has officially moved to 7:00 PM

  1. 1.          Review Borough Council notes – Susan J mentioned that the Butler Ave repaving for 2013 was going forward well.  Discussion developed about capitalizing on this time to install tree trenches in one block of Butler Ave.  Scotti agreed to investigate what is going to happen, what new pipe is being laid, and when to report next meeting.  Trenches would cost approximately $80,000 to 100,000 per block, that would provide a substantial stormwater management benefit.
  1. 2.          OctoberFest Booth 10:00 to 5:00 October 6:      Sue McDowell provided an attractive rain garden poster, Susan J and Ken ended up staff the booth due to an emergency that Sue McD had to attend to.  We had more people sign-up than at any prior Oktobertfest.  People indicated interest in the idea, interest in volunteering, and interest in having their own Rain Garden.  The ones who indicated volunteer interest had been disappointingly silent after an email from Susan C and from Sue McD.
  1. 3.          Temple Ambler Watersheds Study   Meeting will be tomorrow. Susan C and Justin will attend.
  1. 4.          Rain Gardens Campaign:  Three weekends for rain gardens are October 14, 20 and 27.  Sue McDowell/Bob Wenger, Skip/Scotti Kershner and Theresa/David Swartz are the homeowners. There were insufficient number of volunteers to finish the job on Oct. 14, then rain prevented getting back to it until Wed. Oct. 17.

Funding through the Rain Gardens for the Bays Campaign purchased the plants, compost and mulch, and paid for delivery charges of all that from Primex and from Pinelands.  Less than $2,000 was spent out of our bold request for $5,000, with the remainder on account for use next spring.

Volunteer report:  (Susan Curry)  There were insufficient volunteers on Oct. 14 resulting in 2 youth and 4 women over 50 doing the digging. Sunday Eagles games were suggested as a conflict. There are 12 volunteers from Montgomery Community College; four other individuals from VolunteerMatch and prior efforts, and another expected dozen from the Wissahickon Key Club and Interact Club.  A concern was raised about how to make repeat volunteering enticing so that ten garden events in one year can be pulled off.  Incentives discussed included: t-shirts (Jackets & Things?), a dinner at the Fire House, sandwiches and drinks (Philly Phamous, Costas Deli, In the Bag), earning a rain garden at their parent’s house, some other appropriate gift items.  We have a list of 143 individuals from past events; and a list of roughly 30 organizations that might provide groups of volunteers.  A more assertive effort to meet with the high schools (Wissahickon, Upper Dublin, Hatboro-Horsham, Germantown Academy) senior projects leaders to have the Rain Gardens be a May option.  Need to figure a way to have volunteers be committed to the Rain Garden rather than the date so when weather busts the scheduled date they shift to when the work can be done.  Check with scouting leaders (Harry Heckelman).

Vendors–Partners report:  (Sue McDowell)  Vendors we chose were Primex and Pinelands.  Primex was the sole source of mulch and compost from any nursery.  Commercial mulch/compost companies were not investigated.  Both vendors set up accounts with State of Del. DNREC.  Soil analysis by core samples and perc tests were performed by Lyle from Delaware on five properties.  Sue McDowell put the plants orders together based on the reports Lyle provided on ideal size and depth of each property’s Rain Garden. Partners so far include:  Campaign for the Bays, PEC, Cooperative Extension, Montgomery conservation District, Audubon, GreenTreks/StormwaterPA.

Homeowner Agreements:  (Ken Trautwein)  Copies of a draft were reviewed. Ken had a nice two column format showing what was expected of the homeowner and what the EAC was offering.  It started with emphasizing the partnership involved. Additional permissions, and expectations, and a clearer timeline were suggested. Susan C and Sue McDowell will send additional comments to Ken.  The average cost of the two biggest gardens including plants, mulch, compost and shipping was under $500, so we decided to offer homeowners up to $250 per 50 square feet of Rain Garden.  We want incentives for larger gardens. The nature of a needed outlet was touched on briefly.  Additional expenses for the homeowner might entail renting the sod cutter, buying several large tarps, and getting stones for the outlet.  Dealing with excess soil is a big deal. March was suggested as the month for the first introductory workshop where more detail will be delivered that clarifies short bullet points in the agreements.

Accounting:  Susan Johnsson and Susan Curry need to meet soon to set these up.

Publicity: Candace will prepare a draft press release for The Enterprise, Patch.com, and the Ambler Gazette. Sue McDowell will get photos of the Swartz garden from Donna Heron.  Justin will engage with the photo documenting and create an electronic file.  Justin encouraged us to develop case studies.  Sue McD shared sample registrations on the Campaign for the Bays website which when homeowners register their Rain Garden, they will get a sign, like the one Sue showed at the meeting.  A formal report about the project should be given to the Council and Gilmore and Assoc should be advised about our project due to its relevance to TMDL requirements.  Susan C will draft one. Organizing a couple of tours a year of the rain gardens will build wider interest.

  1. 5.          Miscellaneous:  Budget: Estelle is considering attending a $35 workshop/tour on Oct. 24.  Susan C requested reimbursement for expenses to get color copies of the Temple Stormwater stakeholder meeting announcement flier.  If another higher priority EAC expenditure does not surface by the end of the year, the $150 copying expense can be dispersed from EAC budget.  Farmers’ Market: Members were in support of Karen Palmer’s efforts to start a Farmer’s Market, which seemed more likely to get going sooner than the Food Coop.  We resolved to provide a Letter of Support for their application to Farm-to-City for technical support to develop the Farmer’s Market.  According to the new article in Ambler Gazette, they have three locations in mind.  Planning Commission: We agreed to have a standing agenda report from Candace on Planning Commission news.
  1. 6.          Transfer of EAC Leadership:  Susan Curry is likely to move to California within the next 4 months.  Certain EAC files were claimed by various members. Members are thinking how to divide the roles and tasks for shared leadership – a head for formal liaison to Mary Aversa and Council president, an accounting function to manage EAC budget, grants, and submission of invoices to Bernie, an agenda setter and meeting reminder, a secretary and send approved minutes to the Borough and post on the website, etc.

A Dinner to celebrate Susan Curry’s many years of leadership was scheduled for Wed. Oct. 24 – with Scotti reserving space at Mina’s Cuchina at 6:00 pm – spouses who are not staying home with children are welcome.

It was suggested that Susan send in her formal resignation now effective Dec. 31, 2012; and have Justin Murray submit his resume/application so that Council could appoint him (or another new EAC member) in their January appointment meeting.


  1. Susan C will contact Mary Aversa and Tony Isabella to see if they are willing to be interviewed on video tape by Green Treks regarding the Rain Garden project; will draw up a list of roles and tasks the Chair has managed; send additional Homeowner Agreements suggestions to Ken; meet with Susan J on the accounting; get a flashdrive to SueMcD for downloading the photos that Donna Heron took; prepare a formal report to the council and Gilmore&Assoc. regarding the project accomplishments, partners, costs, funding sources, benefits, and issues; draw up a Letter of Resignation to submit to Council effective Dec. 31, 2012; will continue to rally volunteers to make up for the iffy weather events.
  2. Susan McD will send additional Homeowner Agreements suggestions to Ken, consider workshop presenters for March workshop; oversee completion of Swartz’ garden and the next two installations.
  3. Ken Trautwein will ask Mary Aversa when are the Budget hearings, with the aim of being at one to advocate for the Proposed EAC budget for 2013; revise homeowner agreements including input from the meeting and from emails that Sue McD and SusanC will send; begin to reach out to people who signed up at Octoberfest as interested in a rain garden to begin to solidify 10 properties for Spring perc testing.
  4. Susan J will continue to observe and report on Council meetings; meet with SusanC on the rain garden campaign accounting
  5. Scotti will check with Mary Aversa on the street repaving and new pipe being laid; check with the Fire House about a dinner for volunteers and their families (up to 150)
  6. Estelle will determine if she is going to the Oct. 24 tour and submit a request $35 for registration to SusanC; tell Karen Palmer of EAC letter of Support and ask if she has a prototype draft – share that with Candace.
  7. Candace will draft the Letter of Support that the Farmer’s Market requested (by Nov. 13); be prepared to report on Planning Commission news; prepare a draft press release on the 100 Rain Gardens campaign, incorporate photos from SusanC and Sue McD.
  8. Justin Murray will prepare his application/resume to submit as soon as SusanC has sent in her resignation notice; check with Del Val College for student perc tests and soil analysis, aim to take photos at the next two weekend garden installations.


  • 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; suggest ways to reduce waste (pollution prevention) to minimize the need for recycling…..
  • Tour of the incineration plant
  • 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.
  • Solicit and compile every EAC member’s short list of neighbors to approach to install a rain garden next year.
  • Inquire whether Public Works would match the EAC with $275 cost to purchase another set of ClearStream event recycling stands
  • Continue to encourage Bor. to adopt green infrastructure best management practices by public  and private developers when retrofits are being planned, e.g. permeable pavement for the Bottom Dollar parking lot/parking spaces nearest the entrance; stormwater tree trenches.

Meeting was adjourned at 9:15 PM.