Tag Archives: Rain Garden Campaign

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.

October 21, 2015 Meeting Minutes

October 21, 2015


7:00PM to 9:45PM

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

Absent Members:
Matt Cooley
Charles Charlesworth
(One Vacancy)

Associates and Visitors in Attendance:
Susan Curry
Chris Raines
Raija Suomela
Rachel Rosenfeld
Jill and Christian Sanchez

Action Items by Person:

· Steve Maakestad – .Meet with Mary Aversa. Give presentation to Borough Council. Contact prospective EAC members. Check with Gail about carryover process for unused budget funds.

  • Susan Johnsson – Send application to the Fort Washington Business Alliance. Contact Raija about invoices.
  • Susan Curry – Work on Edgewood Forest Preserve Project.
  • Mary-Margaret Monser – Create Powerpoint and give presentation at Library on November 5th. Contact Linda Hode. Send Chris Raines specs for image needed for emblem.
  • 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 – Add photos from EAC events and monthly minutes to EAC web site
    Post updates to Facebook page. Send photos to Mary Margaret for November 5th Presentation.
  • Rachel Rosenfeld – Attend November 5th presentation and help to answer audience questions.
  • Raija Suomela – Communicate with park maintenance contractors to begin work in Borough Park.

Agenda Topics:

  1. Council/Committee Updates:

The planning commission gave a presentation describing their role in the county, explaining how they have worked with Ambler borough for 42 years and outlining two proposed conservation ordinances (Riparian Buffer and Steep Slope). Dulcy Flaherty, Eric Jarrell and Lauren VanDyk each presented information Ms. VanDyk has been working on the ordinances with the Ambler Planning Commission for the past several months.

Residents in the vicinity of Rose Valley Creek expressed dissatisfaction with the ordinances. Much of the concern was about the distance of setback from the water’s edge for Zone 1 and Zone 2. In rural areas, the setback is 100 feet for each zone and for urban areas, it is usually 25 feet. The planning commission has agreed to make the setback distance 15 feet for Ambler. There are specific guidelines for Zone 1 and Zone 2. Glenn Kucher is planning to meet individually with residents who are affected by these ordinances.

Joe Bresnan mentioned that the flood ordinance is currently being rewritten.

The TMDL (Total Maximum Daily Load) for phosphorus was discussed in relation to the water quality of the creek and the ordinances. Mary Aversa stated that the ordinances were only part of the necessary actions that the borough needed to take. Capturing and filtering all of the water runoff before it reaches the creek will be a large and costly project. She also alluded to the improvements that may be needed in the waste water treatment plant.

  1. Health of the Creeks: Some borough residents are blowing their fallen leaves into the creeks. There is a need for education about how to improve the health of the creeks. Stephen will talk to Mary Aversa and Glenn Kucher to learn whether the borough has a brochure about keeping creeks healthy.

A resident on Edgewood cut down several large healthy trees last weekend. Many neighbors are quite upset and someone spray painted swear words on one of the stumps. This tree stump has since been removed.

  1. Edgewood Forest Preserve: Susan Curry made a proposal that a 501c3 organization purchase the woodlands steep slope property on Edgewood Drive and suggested that the EAC and whole community participate in raising the tax-deductible funds to do so. She suggested that the property be transferred with a permanent Conservation Easement to the Borough for on-going maintenance.  Susan has spoken to the Wissahickon Watershed, but the size and current condition of the property does not meet the WVWA’s criterion. Susan plans to speak to the Heritage Conservancy about partnering with the property purchase.
  2. Removal of Invasive Plants in Borough Park: Raija stated that Red Tail would begin removing invasive plants later in the week. She will follow up with them to clarify which plants will be removed and report discussion to the EAC following the meeting. Rachel was concerned that the Knotweed has dried up already and suggested that Red Tail remove other invasive plants.
  3. Mesothelioma Lecture: The lecture was held on September 19th, 2015. The meeting was a success. Diane Blackburn-Zambetti was thorough and clear in presenting many aspects of the disease, prevention and risks as well as types of asbestos and where it can be found. The audience was engaged and interested in the subject. Nineteen people attended. To publicize this event, 1000 flyers were distributed to neighborhoods in Ambler, 12 local churches and many Butler Avenue businesses.
  4. Healthy Wissahickon Film: Chris Raines will work with Lindsay to schedule an EAC showing of the Healthy Wissahickon Film in early winter 2016. Possible locations/events are a church coffeehouse, a senior center, or a Fort Washington Business Alliance luncheon.
  5. Fort Washington Business Alliance: The EAC decided to join the FWBA for 2016. Susan Johnsson will send the application and fee. Our goal is for one EAC member to attend the luncheon each month to discuss ongoing initiatives and enlist support for projects from the group.
  6. Protecting Green Spaces in Ambler: Presentation is scheduled for November 5th at the Wissahickon Library (Ambler Branch). The event begins at 6:30pm with tea and scones. The presentation is scheduled for 7pm. Chris Raines will purchase the refreshments, set up and clean up. Mary-Margaret will speak about the current condition of the creek, the need for environmental ordinances, the Temple Study, and the EAC’s role.
  1. The BoRit Cag Meeting was held on October 7th. Gordon Chase was appointed chair.
  1. EAC Budget was briefly discussed. Approximately $800 is still available.
  2. Rain Gardens: A Rain Garden on the Ambler Borough Property was suggested to be placed in the area near the building’s entrance was discussed. Stephen will discuss this project with the borough manager.Mary Margaret is considering a rain garden on her property.
  3. Hometown News was mentioned briefly. Several EAC articles and photos appeared in the newsletter.
  4. Membership: There are two openings on the EAC. Matt Cooley will change his status from Member to Associate Member. He will send a letter to borough council announcing is change.


  1. Meeting with Borough Manager: The need for a meeting with Mary Aversa was discussed. Stephen Maakestad will meet with Mary Aversa to discuss EAC agenda. He will learn what types of projects she would like the EAC to focus on.
  2. December Committee or Council Meeting: Each year the EAC gives a short presentation to borough council. Stephen Maakestad will give this presentation outlining EAC accomplishments for 2015 and goals for 2016.
  3. December Meeting: The Lucky Well is being considered for a dinner meeting in December.

Items Postponed Until The Next Meeting:

  • Plant swap project
  • TMDL Phosphorous Update

The meeting was adjourned around 9:45pm.

Next Meeting Date: November 28, 2015 at 7:00PM – 131 Rosemary Avenue, Auditorium

August 19, 2015 Meeting Minutes

Members in Attendance:  
Stephen Maakestad, Chair of EAC
Susan Johnsson,
Matt Cooley
Charles Charlesworth

Absent Members:
Mary-Margaret Monser
Steph Figary
Susan Curry (Associate)
(One Vacancy)

Associates and Visitors in Attendance:
Chris Raines
Raija Suomelar
Rachel Rosenfeld
Rebecca Glenn Dinwoodie
Jill Sanchez
Lower Gwynedd Green Committee –
Suzanne Smith-Oscilowski
Scott Berman
Mark Schafer
Lisa Brown
Maryanne Grey
Steve Saffier
Next Meeting Date: 
September 16, 2015 at 7:00PM – 131 Rosemary Avenue, Auditorium

Action Items by Person:

· Steve Maakestad – .Work on Tree Vitalize Project. Work with Mary-Margaret to develop short article on environmental resources ordinances for the Hometown News. Inquire with Mary Aversa regarding timeframe for trash can distribution.

  • Susan Johnsson – Contact Montgomery County Recycling Center about tour.
  • Mary-Margaret Monser – Write a paragraph about the rain garden tour for the Hometown News. Organize the Fall Ordinance Campaign.
  • 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). Provide photo and bio to Chris Raines for EAC website.
  • Chris Raines – Add photos from EAC events and monthly minutes to EAC web site
    Post updates to Facebook page. Send photos to Elizabeth Russell for the Ambler Hometown News. Coordinate the Mesothelioma presentation with the Mesothelioma Foundation, Calvary United Methodist Church and Church of the Brethren for Sept. 19 at 7:00 or 7:30 pm.
  • Rachel Rosenfeld – Work with Raija in contacting Robert Adams and Greg Gagliano to clarify details of the park maintenance proposals.
    Write article about Park Service Days for the Ambler Hometown News.
  • Raija Suomelar – Consider applying for the vacant seat on the EAC.
    Email bio and photo to Chris for EAC web site member page under Associate category.
    Work with Rachel in communicating with park maintenance contractors to clarify proposals.
    Write article about Recycling for Ambler Hometown News

Agenda Topics:

  1. Council/Committee Updates:
  2. Park Survey: The survey was completed. As a result of the survey, dogs are now allowed in Ambler Borough Park but not in the other parks. Matt Cooley will obtain data/statistics from Rebecca Glenn-Dinwoodie and discuss with Frank DeRousi the possibility of allowing dogs in all of the parks.
  3. Ordinances: Charles Charlesworth and Chris Raines attended the planning commission meeting. The commission continues to discuss the environmental resources ordinances. They discussed keeping the wetlands ordinance separate from the other ordinances and changing the slope degree from 15% to 20%. The EAC fall campaign will educate the public about the need for these ordinances.
  4. Proposals for Removal of Invasive Plants in Ambler Borough Park: Two proposals (Red Tail and Bob Adams) were discussed. Clarification was needed about cost, the number of hours, time of year, the method of herbicide application, prioritizing which plants will be tackled, and what plants can be composted. Rachel Rosenfeld took a walk along the creek beyond the park boundaries and noticed a considerable amount of Knotweed along the bank. Removal of this Knotweed will be considered. Raija and Rachel will communicate with the contractors to clarify proposals. They will request two proposals from both contractors. Option 1 will be for a thorough plant removal and Option 2 for an economical solution. The contactors will be asked to suggest appropriate species that can be planted in locations where the invasive weeds are removed. Both contractors should have equal standing.
  5. Teracycling: Charles discussed the Teracycling program.
  6. Next BoRit CAG meeting is Wednesday, October 7th. All are invited to come to Upper Dublin Township Hall at 6:30 pm.
  7. TreeVitalize Grant –. There is a minimum order of 10 trees to participate in the Tree-Vitalize program. Species of trees are on a 1st come, 1st serve basis and cost $25. An inquiry will be placed onto the EAC web site and the Facebook page to determine if there is enough public interest to participate in the program. If enough residents are interested, Steve Maakestad is willing to organize the project, pick up the trees and drop them off.
  8. Mesothelioma presentation: The Mesothelioma lecture / Coffeehouse will be held at Calvary United Methodist Church on Saturday, September 19th, at 6:45PM. The event will be announced on the Facebook Page, EAC web site and via Mail Chimp. Flyers will also be distributed to homes and businesses. Chris is organizing the event.
  9. Rain Gardens Tour: A paragraph about the Rain Garden Tour will be written by Mary-Margaret Monser for the Hometown News. The DEADLINE for the Hometown News is September 1st.
  10. Health of the Wissahickon Movie: There is a chance that the Wissahickon Historical Society may be interested in showing the film. Lindsay broke her arm and will be out of work for some time. When she returns to the Watershed, this opportunity will be pursued.
  11. Recycling:  Rachel presented information about best practices in recycling and provided handouts. Raija would like to know if there is a financial advantage for a municipality to recycle and to recycle correctly. Both the Ambler EAC and Gwynedd Green Committee were interested in touring the Montgomery County Recycling Center. Susan Johnsson will contact the center to schedule a group tour.

Steve Maakestad will find out when the new trash containers will be delivered and whether the EAC should design an instruction label that will outline which items are trash and which are recycling. The label would be placed onto the side of the containers.

  1. EAC storage closet:  Susan Johnsson will talk to Mary Aversa about the possibility of moving the EAC tools to the new EAC storage closet.
  2. Rain Garden: Steve will contact homeowners about installing a rain garden this fall. Suzanne Smith-Olichowski mentioned that she researched water infiltration tests on the Internet and tested her ground herself before installing her rain gardens.
  3. Gwynedd Green Committee: The Gwynedd Green Committee discussed their plans for creating an EAC and asked questions about the Ambler EAC.14. EAC Budget was briefly discussed.
  4. EAC Budget was briefly discussed. Approximately $1,800 is still available. It was noted that approximately $1,000 could be used on the fall rain garden program.
  5. Outreach: Steve Maakestad noted that no booth was set up for the Criterium Bike Race. The EAC will have a booth at Oktoberfest.

Items Postponed Until The Next Meeting:

  • Plant swap project
  • TMDL Phosphorous Update

The meeting was adjourned around 9:30pm.

Next Meeting Date:  September 16, 2015 at 7:00PM – 131 Rosemary Avenue, Auditorium