Category Archives: Year End Review

December 16, 2015 Meeting Minutes

7:30 PM to 9:00 PM
From the Boot – 110 East Butler Avenue

Compliments of Steve Maakestad

 Members in Attendance:  
Stephen Maakestad, Chair of EAC
Susan Johnsson,
Matt Cooley
Mary-Margaret Monser
(Quorum)

Absent Members:
Charles Charlesworth
(One Vacancy)

Associates and Visitors in Attendance:
Susan Curry
Chris Raines
Next Meeting Date: Note: one-time change from normal third Wednesday
January 27th, 2016 at 7:00PM – 131 Rosemary Avenue, Auditorium

Action Items by Person:

· Steve Maakestad – .Annual Report to Council. Move items from garage to borough building with Susan Johnsson

  • Susan Johnsson – Move items from garage to borough building. Prepare invoice for WVWA membership
  • Mary-Margaret Monser – Organize TREEmendous Party
  • 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.

Susan Curry – Organize TREEmendous Party. Work on Edgewood Preserve project.

Matt Cooley – Assist with Edgewood Preserve project. Attend TREEmendous party.

Agenda Topics:

  1. Council/Committee Updates: The Edgewood Preserve Project was discussed. Borough Council approved a 20K contribution and will help facilitate the project and eventually take ownership of the protected parcel once sufficient funds are raised. Donations will be refunded if the fundraising falls short.
  2. Remaining 2015 EAC Budget Funds: Will be allocated for the Edgewood Preserve.
  3. Year End Review: Stephen Maakestad will present the year end review to Ambler Borough Council in January. Mary Aversa asked for a mini-campaign on reducing lawn chemicals.
  4. Fort Washington Business Alliance: The EAC joined the Fort Washington Business Alliance, which is a volunteer organization representing business and organizations in the Fort Washington area and neighboring communities. The Alliance meets monthly. The EAC endeavors to send two members to the meeting each month. The next meeting is at DeVry University. (January 21, 2016 at 11:30am)
  5. EAC Membership: Karen Polesir and Erin McKenna are considering joining the EAC in 2016.
  6. Tools in the EAC storage Garage: Steve Maakestad will call Susan Johnsson to arrange a time to move the tools to the borough building.
  7. TREEmendous Party: Details of the party were discussed including volunteers, flyer, tickets and publicity.

Items Postponed Until The Next Meeting:

  • Plant swap project
  • TMDL Phosphorous Update

The meeting was adjourned around 9:00pm.

Next Meeting Date:  January 27th, 2016 at 7:00PM (Usually 3rd Wednesday)

November 18, 2015 EAC Meeting Minutes

7:00PM to 9:30PM

Members in Attendance:  
Stephen Maakestad, Chair of EAC
Susan Johnsson,
Mary-Margaret Monser
(Quorum)

Absent Members:
Charles Charlesworth

(One Vacancy)

Associates and Visitors in Attendance:
Susan Curry
Chris Raines

Action Items by Person:

  • Steve Maakestad –   .Meet with Mary Aversa. Give presentation to Borough Council in December. Contact prospective EAC members. Check with Gail about carryover process for unused budget funds. Attend BoRit Cag Meeting. Move tools from Susan Johnsson’s house to the EAC storage area in the borough building. Monitor EAC email.
  • Susan Johnsson – Send application to the Fort Washington Business Alliance. Contact Raija about invoices from Greg Gagliano.
  • Susan Curry – Work on Edgewood Forest Preserve Project. Send letter to the editor about the EAC and need for new members.
  • Mary-Margaret Monser – Mary Margaret will contact Charles Charlesworth to encourage him to attend the next EAC meeting. Plan Edgewood Preserve Beef and Beer Fundraiser with Chris Raines and others.
  • Charles Charlesworth – Attend BoRit Cag Meeting.
  • Chris Raines – Add photos from EAC events and monthly minutes to EAC web site.
    Post updates to Facebook page. Work with Mary-Margaret Monser on Edgewood Preserve Beef and Beer Fundraiser.
  • Rachel Rosenfeld – Participate in organization, planning and support of EAC projects.
  • Raija Suomela – Communicate with park maintenance contractors to begin work in Borough Park.
  • Matt Cooley – Attend Fort Washington Business Alliance Meeting in January, if work schedule allows. Participate in organization, planning and support of EAC projects schedule permits.

Agenda Topics:

  1. Council Meeting:

The Riparian buffer ordinance is being pursued. The Steep Slope ordinance has been postponed.

Rose Valley Creek Conservation District Ordinances were received. A letter submitted by Joseph Catuzzi, Esquire representing Mr. and Mrs. Quinn was also received. The Solicitor scheduled a meeting to discuss the letter and proposed language in the Riparian Buffer ordinance. Two clauses in the ordinance have been agreed on and two are being rewritten. One of the Quinn’s buildings is within 17 feet of the banks edge. This building has been grand fathered. Mr. Quinn would like to use his property as a business.

There was a discussion about the health of local creeks. Raking of leaves into creeks is not a good practice. An education program was discussed.

The EAC will consider reintroducing the woodlands ordinance after the Riparian buffer ordinance is completed.

  1. Protecting Green Spaces in Ambler (Library Presentation)

Mary-Margaret gave an excellent presentation with the help of Rachel Rosenfeld. Chris presented a certificate of appreciation to Rachel. Attendance was outstanding with standing room only. The audience was engaged and responsive to the subject.

The borough has written a MS4 TMDL Strategy (link at –http://www.boroughofambler.com/assets/MS4-TMDL-Strategy-2015-10-23.pdf) and is accepting comments during a 30-day public comment period (verbal and written comments). A public meeting date was advertised and comments were accepted at the November Committee meeting.

  1. 2016 Budget:

Public Meetings are scheduled for November 17, at 6:00pm, November 24, at 10:00am and December 1, at 6:00pm. This budget includes funding the EAC and Edgewood Preserve.

Donations of remaining budget funds for allocation to the Edgewood Preserve was voted on and affirmed by EAC members. At this time, there is $913.03 available. Susan Curry suggested purchasing sturdy shelving to hold EAC supplies at a store such as Staples or Quill for approximately $100. Edgewoods Preserve vote – Restricted account for open space. Susan Johnsson will give all to give to Gail by next week.

  1. Edgewood Preserve:

A total of $30,000 has been raised for the Edgewood Preserve and $45,000 is needed by February 2016. The fundraising committee is formulating an agreement of sale. A letter of intent was submitted with a $10,000 nonrefundable deposit. Attorney, Joe Breslin is in discussion with Mr. Retowski to extend date to April 2016. There is no agreement of sale yet. The EAC is also considering purchasing property from Tim Alexi as well. Sarah Hertz has done quite a bit of fundraising and the EAC will encourage her to join the fundraising committee.

  1. EAC Membership Availabilities:

Environmental Advisory Council (3 year term) –two seats. Susan Curry will send a letter to the editor to seek new members.

  1. The Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) program:

The program provides communities with resources to address community development needs. Susan will pursue a grant from the CDBG to purchase open space in the Edgewood Preserve.

  1. Ambler Borough Park Maintenance:

Greg Gagliano of Red Tail Restoration and Land Management LLC. has completed 8 hours of park maintenance. He will continue work within the next few weeks and the total cost should be $800 when complete.

  1. Mini Campaigns:

Showing Health of Wissahickon film (WVWA) at the borough building was suggested with an attendance goal of 35 or 45 people. Refreshments of wine and cheese is being considered.

A new mini campaign on trees is beginning. An information page called, “10 Reasons Why We Save Trees,” was posted on the EAC Facebook page. The Treevitalize program will start in Spring 2016. The EAC will hold a tree planting event in April on Edgewood Drive.

Treevitalize needs tree orders two months in advance. All trees are native and 12 to 15 feet tall. The list of available trees changes from year to year and is sent out in February. Municipalities from all over state order trees which are delivered to the Naval Yard in South Philadelphia. Trees are picked up there by municipalities representatives. Ambler borough will send a truck and EAC members must meet to choose the trees. The trees must be planted with in 2 days.

  1. CAG Meeting:

The Next BoRit CAG meeting is scheduled for Wednesday, Dec 2nd. – Steve Maakestad or Charles Charlesworth will attend. The BoRit cleanup at the reservoir will be finished by early spring. Meetings are held at the Upper Dublin Township Building.

  1. Fort Washington Business Alliance:

The EAC is joining the Fort Washington Business Allliance to help gain support for environmental projects. FWBA luncheon meetings are held on the third Thursday of each month with networking from 11:30am to 12:00, followed by introductions and presentations. Up to two EAC members can attend each meeting.

  1. Other items:
  • Tools will be moved from Susan Curry’s house to borough building.
  • Susan Curry will ask the borough manager if a spare file cabinet is available. Otherwise Susan Johnsson will purchase one.
  • The December EAC meeting will be held at the Lucky Well –
  • There are 144 likes on the EAC Facebook page.
  • EAC – 2015 EAC Accomplishments Report and 2016 Plans to Council Dec. 1 (Maakestad)
  • Steve will talk to Mary about her ideas for 2016. Education for TMDL. January talk about the value of trees.
  • Earth Day is April 22nd, 2016.
  • Wissahickon Watershed Stream cleanup is scheduled for the last Saturday in April. The EAC will participate.

Items Postponed Until The Next Meeting:

Inventory of tools, signs, banners, flyers, info, etc.
The meeting was adjourned around 9:45pm.

Next Meeting Date: December 16th at Lucky Well at 6:30pm.

 

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 (http://www.amblereac.org/). 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 amblereac@gmail.com.