Swarthmore Borough Council
By Katie Crawford
The Swarthmore Borough Council unanimously passed a resolution of concern on Monday night regarding the Sunoco Mariner East Pipeline Project. While the resolution is not an indication of support or lack thereof for the project, it does outline in detail the many concerns and possible consequences of allowing this project to continue.
In addition, in anticipation of the possibility of the need for legal action, the Swarthmore Borough “reserved the right to declare itself an interested party in all proceedings.”
The announcement from Sunoco “that it is currently transporting hazardous and highly volatile liquids under high pressure through multiple municipalities in Delaware County, creating a ‘high consequence area’ using a repurposed pipeline installed in the 1930’s,” has many borough residents on edge. Community member Annie Fox addressed council, stating that while she wouldn’t want it in her backyard, she didn’t “think it should be in anyone’s backyard,” also commenting on the unknown effect on our watershed and water quality.
Council member Lauren McKinney introduced the resolution and echoed community members’ concerns that Swarthmore could be affected by an accidental explosion. She noted the proximity of the borough to the evacuation area in the event of an accident, and that the substances running through the pipeline now are much more volatile than in the past. The passage of the resolution will also allow more time for community members to voice their opinions, and for the borough to study the project.
Borough Financial Condition Is Strong
Finance committee head Michael Carey reported to council that the economic state of the borough is strong, leading the finance committee to advise against any tax increase to residents in the coming year. Carey noted the one time lump increase in revenue due to the construction on Swarthmore College’s campus.
The borough’s fund balance is also quite healthy (9.5% of revenue) and Carey spoke of how some of this balance may be used in the future to pay down some of the borough’s debt which stands at approximately $1.9 million.
The borough proposed budget increases funding for the public library from $146,000 to $159,140 and for Swarthmore Town Center, Inc. from $20,000 to $22,000. An additional $5,000 was set aside for the library to put towards serving community seniors; Swarthmore Recreation Association also received an additional $5,000 solely for the purpose of better serving the senior community. These are not general budget increases for these organizations, but monies specifically allotted for seniors.
By contract, the police will receive a 3.5% raise in the coming year and council is proposing a 2% raise for the coming year for non-uniformed borough employees. The borough received a $90,000 contribution from the college for the volunteer firemen.
Council approved $7,000 for the salary of the much-anticipated crossing guard at the intersection of Yale and Rutgers avenues, starting January 1. Police Chief Brian Craig is currently seeking candidates for this position, and council was supportive of putting someone in place as soon as possible even if that means freeing up additional funds to cover the salary prior to January 1.
Three Eagle Scouts were recognized by the Mayor Tim Kearney for their contributions to the Swarthmore Community. Peter Armour, Jonathan Cresson, and John Crawford, all from Boy Scout Troop 112, received certificates from the mayor.
Armour reconstructed the track at CADES; Crawford constructed benches and picnic tables for Little Crum Creek Park; and Cresson constructed the shed in Central Park Swarthmore. Kearney spoke of the improved quality of life these Scouts’ work brings to many Swarthmore residents. He also praised the opportunity these young men had to work with their fathers and Scout leaders as a way of passing on skills and traditions from one generation to the next.
Former mayor Guy Smith was in attendance in order to thank council and the mayor on behalf of the Centennial Foundation for their support of the creation of Swarthmore’s Central Park. Smith commented that he had rarely seen “the public and private sector work together so well,” as they did on this project. Smith presented each council member with a certificate of appreciation which also included a small piece of the ceremonial ribbon from the opening ceremony of the park.