Category Archives: rain garden tour

January 27, 2016 Meeting Minutes

Members in Attendance:
Stephen Maakestad, Chair of EAC
Matt Cooley
Mary-Margaret Monser

Absent Members:
Susan Johnsson,
(Three Vacancies)

Associates and Visitors in Attendance:
Susan Curry
Chris Raines
Raija Suomela

Next Meeting Date: February 17, 2016 at 7:00PM
131 Rosemary Avenue, Auditorium

  • Action Items by Person:
  • Steve Maakestad – .Annual Report to Council on February 2nd. Move items from garage to borough building with Susan Johnsson (Completed on February 2nd), man the table in the lobby at the film series. TREEmendous Party volunteer.
  • Susan Johnsson – EAC Treasurer. Move items from garage to borough building. (Completed February 2nd)
  • Mary-Margaret Monser – Organize TREEmendous Party, Attend planning commission meeting. Man the table in the lobby at the film series. TREEmendous Party volunteer.
  • Chris Raines – Add photos from EAC events and monthly minutes to EAC web site
    Post updates to Facebook page. Design flyer and tickets for TREEmendous Party. Tree Information Desktop Tri-Panel Display. Sustainability film series slides. Man the table in the lobby at the film series. TREEmendous Party volunteer.
  • Susan Curry – OrganizeTREEmendous Party. Work on Edgewood Preserve project. Attend Planning Commission Meeting. Tree Information Desktop Tri-Panel Display. Sustainability film series slides. Man the table in the lobby at the film series. TREEmendous Party volunteer. Will be interviewed by Dutch Godshalk from the Ambler Gazette about Edgewood Preserve.
  • Matt Cooley – Assist with Edgewood Preserve project. Attend TREEmendous Party volunteer. Write lawn care article for Hometown News (completed Feb 4th).
  • Raija Suomala – Map of storm drains, Communicate with park maintenance contractor. TREEmendous Party volunteer.

Agenda Topics:

  1. Council/Committee Updates:
  2. Reorganization: Borough Council voted for incumbent, Sal Pasceri for president and Ed Curtis for Vice President. Frank DeRousi is Chair for Parks and Recreation Committee. Ed Curtis is      Chair of Public Safety Committee. Public Utilities Committee chair is Sal Pasceri, Finance Chair is Jonathan Sheward. Claudio Zaccone is chair of Salary and Personnel.
  3. Appointments:
    Sarah Hertz has been appointed to the board of the Wissahickon Watershed Association.
    Julie McCabe has been appointed Executive Director of Pennypack Farm and Education Center.
  4. Next Borough Council Meeting: Steve Maakestad will give a brief overview about EAC          accomplishments at the next borough council meeting.
  5. Removal of Invasive Plants: Raija Suomela is communicating with Red Tail landscaping        service about recommendations for removal of invasive plants during the coming months. Steve    and Raija will present a proposal to Mary Aversa about the removal of invasive plants and brush in the park.
  6. Next BoRit CAG meeting is the first Wednesday of even-numbered months. All are invited to come to Upper Dublin Township Hall at 6:30 pm. (Wednesday, February 3rd then April 6th)
  7. Ordinances: Mary-Margaret attended the Planning Commission Meeting. Brian Quinn was in disagreement about the flood plain ordinance. He stated that there are several culverts discharging into the creek and said that environmental ordinances will not make a difference in the health of    the creek. More discussion about the ordinances will occur at the planning commission meeting in February. Joe Bresnan will attend that meeting. Brooke Marshall would like scientific evidence    proving that these ordinances will make an impact on the condition of the creek. The EAC would like assistance from the Wissahickon Watershed, Clean Water Action or the DEP in presenting the evidence supporting the impact riparian buffers, and steep slope protection have on the health of  waterways.

Matt Cooley stated, “Downstream flooding…people downstream have a voice. They should be    made aware (of the ordinances). I believe we are fighting because it is the right thing to do, so the Ambler waterways can be the best they can be. I recommend that we find an expert”

Susan Curry noticed that part of the ordinance had been crossed out. She is planning to attend the next Planning Commission Meeting.

The Wissahickon Watershed’s goal is to have all communities work together to reach the goal of  the TMDL.

  1. Wissahickon Watershed Stream Cleanup is April 30th, as always the last weekend of April. Earth Day is Friday, April 22nd.
  2. TreeVitalize Grant –. There is a minimum order of 10 trees – maximum number is 20 trees — to participate in the Tree-Vitalize program. Species of trees are on a 1st come, 1st serve basis and      cost $25. There are currently 6 tree orders. The EAC will purchase several trees to be placed in    Ambler Borough Parks and other public locations throughout the town. The borough public works department will pick them up and transport them to Ambler. David Morgan, Judy Simpson and Joe Sampson ? will be organizing this project. Jill and Chris gave out flyers announcing the program.  A stack is also located at the Borough Building.
  3. Edgewoods Preserve Tree Fest: April 16, 2016 on Edgewood Drive as a street fair. Lots of    children’s activities, tree planting instruction, information booths, restoration projects, music,        refreshments.
  4. Tree Information Desktop Tri-Panel Display: Susan Curry and Chris will work on the display.
  5. Sustainability film series slides: Susan Curry and Chris to work on slides and send them to      Brooke at Pennypack Farm & Education Center. Mary-Margaret, Steve, Chris and Susan Curry    will man the table in the lobby at the film series.
  6. EAC Plans for 2016: To have a greater presence in the community, particularly have a table at the Ambler Farmer’s Market, hold a plant swap, and lead a talk. Rain Garden Tour: Promote our “Do-it-yourself” model. Find landscapers who are willing to provide tentative example plans with estimated fees and possibly join the tour to discuss with attendees. Rea Monaghan’s husband is a landscaper who builds rain  gardens. Contact:
  7. Storm Drain Map: Raija is working on acquiring a map of storm drains throughout Ambler    for the EAC to use. Justin Murray has an older version. Glenn Kucher is also designing a storm    drain map for the borough.
  8. Fort Washington Business Alliance is scheduled for Thursday, February 18th, 2016. Two        representatives from the EAC may attend this event to discuss EAC initiatives to local business      leaders. Presentation: “Active Shooter Situation” Location: Upper Dublin Township Building, 801 Loch Alsh Avenue, Fort Washington, PA 19034. Time: 11:30 a.m. Networking, Noon to 1:15 p.m. Meeting. Email to RSVP.

Officer David Madrak, UDPD, will present the various safety parameters for this               emergency situation., David E. Madrak, Professional Standards Officer, #81 – Patrol        Division, Upper Dublin Township Police Department

  1. EAC Budget was briefly discussed. $2,610 has been approved.
  2. TREEmendous Party: A DJ will provide music. Addicted2Dance will perform. The event is    scheduled from 7pm to 11pm. Tickets can be purchased at the door. There will be a 50/50 raffle as well as other raffle items. Setup volunteers will meet at 12:30pm to decorate the auditorium.

The meeting was adjourned around 9:30pm.

2015 Year End Review

Who we are:

Currently, five appointed EAC Members bring diverse backgrounds including science and ecology, accounting, environmental policy and engineering. Appointed members are: Steve Maakestad (Chair), Susan Johnsson, Matt Cooley, Mary-Margaret Monser and Charlie Charlesworth. Additional associates that greatly enhance our efforts include: Susan Curry, Chris Raines, Rachel Rosenfield, and Raija Suomela. Two EAC members that were appointed in 2015 –Stephanie Figary and Alex Pratt — have moved on. Thus, we face 2016 with TWO vacant seats. We meet on the 3rd Wednesday of each month at 7:00 PM.

Accomplishments in 2015:

The EAC enhances the environmental health of Ambler in several ways. Throughout the year, the EAC was involved in the following activities:

  • Ambler Earth Fest: In April, Chris Raines led the EAC in producing the first ever Ambler Earth Festival at the Calvary Methodist Church. An impressive group of vendors and presenters contributed to the Earth Fest along with music, food and entertainment for kids. The EAC sold and raffled off compost bins during the event. Successful efforts to elicit sponsorships enabled the event to net $200.
  • Wissahickon Stream Clean-up and Education: Annually in April, we coordinate a team of volunteers to pick-up trash along two tributaries that run through Ambler as part of the Wissahickon Valley Watershed Association’s Annual Stream Clean-Up Day. The EAC also teamed with WVWA earlier in the year to organize a public video presentation at Borough Hall highlighting the Wissahickon Creek and WVWA’s goals to preserve it.
  • Water Conservation Campaign: The EAC conducted an educational campaign on water conservation through an informative display, information pamphlets and brief articles in the Hometown News and on the EAC webpage. The EAC attends and makes presentations at public events such as the Ambler Farmers Market and Oktoberfest.
  • Waterways and TMDLs: The EAC is greatly interested in our waterways. First, Several EAC members attended a TMDL presentation by EPA at Morris Arboretum to understand how it would affect Ambler Borough.  Second: we introduced and coordinated with the Planning Commission on several draft ordinances aimed at preserving natural resources (wetlands, woodlands, floodplains, riparian buffers, and steep slopes). Third: we organized multiple maintenance days to remove invasives species and debris along the creek in Borough Park; two weekend events were led by Master Watershed Steward volunteer Rachel Rosenfeld. Fourth, the EAC contracted professional services to continue the maintenance of the riparian buffer within Borough Park through an agreement with RedTail Inc.. Fifth: The EAC prepared and delivered an informational presentation on the importance of environmental resource protection ordinances. Twenty-nine attended this event at the Wissahickon Valley Library including environmentalists from Whitpain and Lower Gwynedd townships.
  • Rain Garden Tour: In June, the EAC produced a tour of seven of the Ambler rain gardens drawing a crowd of 40, necessitating a split into 2 groups. The main goal of the tour is to generate interest in installing more rain gardens in other yards around town.
  • Participation in Borough Processes: EAC members were present and actively participated at Borough Committee and Borough Council meetings, Planning Commission meetings, and Zoning Board hearings. In addition, the Chair attended the Summit of BucksMont EACs in Doylestown– an occasion for sharing ideas among other local EACs.
  • BoRit Asbestos Community Advisory Group (CAG): The EAC has a voting seat on the CAG, which is an EPA supported citizen group who pay attention to the Asbestos issues and remediation in Ambler. A member attends the CAG meetings that are held six times a year. The EAC helped organize a public education presentation on mesothelioma, a topic of interest for communities with old Asbestos manufacturing facilities like Ambler.
  • Facebook Page/Website/Outreach: For better communication with the residents of Ambler, the EAC created a Facebook page that now has 125 followers. We revamped the EAC website ( We contribute several educational articles to an Environmental Corner in each issue of the “Hometown News”. The EAC joined the Fort Washington Business Alliance in order to help promote our activities and engage additional volunteers and potential members.

The EAC plans for 2016.

Several programs are annual events: the Stream Clean-up day and park clean-up days. Variations or new ideas are listed below.

  • Rain Garden Program: We will promote a “Do-It-Yourself” rain garden model that will provide homeowners with technical and financial support, while the homeowners will be responsible to provide the labor and half the cost of the rain garden materials. We will coordinate another rain garden tour to educate residents on stormwater issues and garner interest.
  • Edgewoods Preserve: We will assist in the fundraising to purchase a wooded hillside property along the Rose Valley Creek in order to preserve valuable resources and environmentally sensitive natural areas along the creek. In January, the EAC is planning a TREEmendous party at Borough Hall to raise funds for the preserve.
  • Spring Mini-Campaign will focus on Trees and Open Space: we plan to coordinate a community-wide tree planting in yards all over town during April in concert with the Pennsylvania Horticulture Society, and the Pennsylvania Forestry Council, with a goal of helping children and families understand the value and importance of trees, and increasing the shade tree canopy of Ambler.
  • Borough Park Maintenance: The EAC will continue to support on-going maintenance in Borough Park with EAC funds as necessary to ensure that the riparian buffers and park are maintained as best as possible and that invasive species are adequately removed.

We truly appreciate the support that Borough Council provides through budget allocation and council member participation in our events, and we look forward to supporting the Borough from an environmentally conscious and sustainable perspective. We are happy to help and are open to new ideas for programs from Council. Please let us know if you have any feedback or questions. You can reach us at

July 7, 2015 Meeting Minutes


July 15th, 2015 7:00PM to 9:15PM

Members in Attendance:  
Matt Cooley, Stephanie Figary, Susan Johnsson, Steve Maakestad
(No Quorum)

Absent Members: 
Charles Charlesworth, Mary-Margaret Monser, (one vacancy)

Visitors and Associates in Attendance:
Chris Raines
Lynette Saunders (Upper Moreland EAC)
Raija Suomela
Susan Curry Rachel Rosenfeld

Next Meeting Date: 
Aug. 19th, 2015 at 7:00PM – 131 Rosemary Ave, conference room behind Council chambers entrance.

Action Items by Person:
 Charles Charlesworth – Coordinate TerraCycle Program to collect specific recyclables at Borough Hall with Sue Garrity of Shady Grove (cereal bags, tape dispensers, pens/markers/mechanical pencils, glue bottles, plastic bottle spray  triggers, cheese wrappers, juice pouches).

 Chris Raines – Take photos of the park clean up days;
Coordinate arranging the Mesothelioma presentation with Calvary Church and Church of the Brethren on Sept. 19 at 7:00 or 7:30 pm.

 Rachel Rosenfeld – Conduct July 18 Park invasives removal volunteer event.

 Stephanie Figary – Coordinate with Lindsay Blanton for a Fall showing of the ‘Health of the Wissahickon’ film in Ambler.

 Susan Curry –
o Ask Frank DeRuosi for a copy of the park maintenance contract.
o Ask Mary Aversa/Jim Dougherty for copy of the Growing Greener grant proposal.
o Share her TMDL comment letter with Steph Figary.
o Inquire what storage space might be available at the new Borough Hall for the EAC’s tool inventory and other stuff.

 Susan Johnsson – submit receipts for reimbursement.  Bring EAC budget update to next meeting

 Raija Suomela – Consider applying for the vacant seat on the EAC.

 Steve Maakestad – Coordinate effort to have an educational EAC table at the Criterium race.

Agenda Topics:

1. Council/Committee Updates:

a. The Borough offices will be moving to former Mattison Avenue School in mid-July.

b. Ambler Borough applied for a 2015 Growing Greener Watershed Protection Grant for storm sewer inlet filters.

c. Paving will occur on several streets in Ambler during the late summer.

d. Borough Hall will be auctioned — with a starting bid of $850,000.

2. Next BoRit CAG meeting is August 5th, all are invited to come to Upper Dublin Township Hall at 6:30 pm.

3. Ambler Borough Park Clean-up Days – July 11th and 18th.

Rachel showed a computer presentation including before and after pictures, and passed out the color printed copies of her 4-page “Orientation to Riparian Buffers and Invasive Removal” that she had available for volunteer education.

Rachel submitted receipts of food and beverages.

About 12 volunteers participated. Hold Harmless forms were filled in by Dorothy Beacham, Bill Baker, Jean Bellavance, Chris Raines, Jeanne Sorg, two community service volunteers Holly and Scott, Tom Ramsdell, Steve Maakestad, Nancy Deininger, and Frank DeRuosi.

Volunteers focused on areas that had been ribbon-ed with colored tape. Garlic mustard was also removed.  About 20 garbage bags of plant material were removed on the 11th.

Raija encouraged us to include Japanese Honeysuckle and Oriental Bittersweet in our list of future invasive plants to address (Japanese Knotweed, Norway Maple, Tree of Heaven, and Multi-floral Rose).  Japanese Stiltgrass can also be removed by pulling, mowing or spraying before mid-August when it starts to form seeds. As invasives are removed, opportunities for new invasives are opened up, so maintenance is essential.

Susan Curry is receiving proposals from Bob Adams, Greg Gagliano and Weeds, Inc. to apply a targeted application of an herbicide called Rodeo (glysophate) in the Fall.  Greg G. suggested spraying before late August to manage the stiltgrass. Neighborhood residents will be notified about the application in advance.  Ron Ayres has finished work in removing multi-floral roses.

4. Mesothelioma presentation Chris will coordinate arranging the Mesothelioma presentation with Calvary Church and Church of the Brethren on Sept. 19 at 7:00 or 7:30 pm.

5. Rain Gardens Tour:   Chris gave a brief report. The event went very well: about 40 participants with about 1/3 from the Borough. The team decided to lead another tour again next early summer. Susan C. took the evaluation forms to review for any follow-up needed. One homeowner, Joe Honneycut is paired with Jeff Fehlenberg, Master Watershed Steward to installbone or more rain gardens on his properties maybe in the Fall.

6. Health of the Wissahickon Movie:  Steph will coordinate a showing of the 25-minute movie and a question and answering session with Lindsay Blanton. The goal is to show it to audiences that are not automatically in the know. Korean Churches, Church of the Brethren, plant and service clubs were suggested.

7. Criterium Bike Race:  There was some discussion about trying to bundle the film showing with the Criterium bike race on August 15. Steve agreed to have an EAC information table near the registration table for the Criterium to interact with and educate family members of bike racers (pamphlets, water conservation display, remaining compost bin.) Criterium starts at 7:30 am.

8. Recycling:  The Borough has wisely decided to have Public Works set out the blue toters for large events and collect from them. There may be no need for the ClearStream stands. David Morgan can contemplate a use for them.  Raija mentioned the value of having a sheet of paper that educates residents about what can and what should not be in the recycling toters.  This could be a sheet or a sticker that could be affixed to the blue toters, but delivered with the grey trash toters.  Abington EAC has a good education list on their website.

9. Items Postponed Until The Next Meeting:

Fall Mini-Campaign,
TerraCycling Recycling Collection Plan
Plant Swap Event
Downtown Tree Advocacy
HomeTown News articles

 The meeting was adjourned around 9:15pm.

Next Meeting Date:  August 19, 2015 at 7:00PM – New Borough Hall (Mattison Avenue)