Tuesday, March 14, 2017

In Pottstown, It's All In the Timing

If you want to get appointed to the Human Relations Commission, or the planning commission, or you want to try to make some changes to bike lanes going down your street, it's all in the timing.

As Council Dennis Arms rightly pointed out to borough council Monday night, "we say all the time we want people to apply to boards and commissions, and then they do and we ignore them."

He was talking about two last-minute applications for two vacant positions on the planning commission. Arms noted that although the applications were last minute, that the borough has never set a procedure or deadline for those appointments.

"It's all just willy nilly," he said.

Ultimately, he was halfway successful.

Council did to adopt a new policy last night of an application needing to be made within 30 days of it being announced.

But they did not apply this spiffy new policy to the two open positions they filled last night, one of which was to re-appoint Borough Council President Dan Weand to another four-year term on the planning commission. The other seat was filled by a man whose full name I did not catch.

A similar conversation unfolded when two people were appointed to the Human Relations Commission -- Marcia Levengood and Samantha Miller.

Council vice President Sheryl Miller wanted a one month delay because she did not think the Human Relations Commission had a quorum when it recommended those two.

But they did. One of the commission's five members resigned the day after they voted on the recommendation. It's really get hard to keep track.

Finally, council spent a great deal of time on the subject of proposed bike lanes for Roland Avenue that are part of the $2 million Safe Routes to Schools project.

At least two residents have come to council in recent months and said the lanes, and the pylons that will designate the bike lanes, are ugly and will lower the value of their property.

Assistant Borough Manager Justin Keller said he did know about these concerns until December of 2016, but residents had voiced concerns earlier. The problem is that they were voiced to a different assistant borough manager.

Staff and Councilman Joe Kirkland, who represents the Seventh Ward, met with the residents and they discussed changes. What no one seemed to know until Keller explained it to them Monday, is that all those changes were dependent on an OK from PennDOT.

And PennDOT said no.

Keller said the changes could not be made within the time frame of the grant that will help to pay for the project and, if the project were abandoned, that the Pottstown Area Health and Wellness Foundation would want the borough to return the $600,000 it paid for the design and engineering of the whole project.

The project will affect more than just Roland Street.

It will install bike lanes and change some roads to one-way all over the borough.

In the end, council voted 6-3 to approve the traffic ordinance which will make the changes to the road, as well as to appoint Traffic Planning and Design as the Construction Inspection Consultant for the project -- both PennDOT requirements.

Timing truly is everything.

Otherwise, here are the Tweets.

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