Swarthmore Borough Council
By Katie Crawford
At its May 2nd work session, Swarthmore Borough Council considered a proposed resolution which would endorse bipartisan legislation now before the state House and Senate. That legislation calls for an amendment to the state constitution to establish an independent commission that would fairly draw legislative districts, replacing the process which has led to extreme gerrymandering in Pennsylvania.
Council member Ross Schmucki, spoke in support of the proposed resolution, but suggested deleting specific language that he believes could be controversial. The resolution before borough council currently references “not discriminating against any political party,” and “partisan legislators.” Schmucki suggested that since the ultimate goal is to help pass redistricting reform legislation at the state level, “Adding unnecessary and possibly divisive language doesn’t make sense.” Council will vote on approval of the revised resolution at its May 9 legislative meeting.
Various municipal groups have joined together to ask council to write a letter to the Public Utility Commission requesting that Distributed Antenna Systems (also called mini-cell towers) not be considered public utilities. Currently the cell phone companies claim public utility status, which allows them to exist in public spaces without seeking permission. Given the constant changes in cell communication and the infrastructure required to support these changes, Schmucki noted that the borough will have a continuing interest in the outcome of the cell companies’ decisions. Council is going to work with the borough solicitor to prepare a response.
Aging-In-Place Group is Active
The recently formed Aging-in-Place Action Group has already met three times and invited representatives of 11 community agencies to brainstorm how to advance their goals. The group also asked council member Ross Schmucki to encourage council to again consider which items from the Aging-in-Place Task Force report should be allocated to council committees.
Council member and public safety chair David Creagan reported on the developments regarding a new contract between the Borough of Swarthmore and the Borough of Rutledge for police services. Swarthmore Borough had suggested a 3% fee increase and Rutledge responded with a suggested 2 and 1/2% increase for the first two years of the contract, and 3% thereafter. Creagan believes this counterproposal is strong and the difference in percentages actually represents a very small difference in money. Creagan also supports the suggested five-year contract instead of the initially proposed three-year contract.
The Mayor of Rutledge and the head of Rutledge’s borough council both lauded Swarthmore police chief Brian Craig for the services his department has rendered to Rutledge.
Tree City and Hoops Heaven
Mayor Tim Kearney reported that for the 37th year Swarthmore has been designated Tree City USA, an honor that was announced at the recent Arbor Day celebration. Kearney also noted that the Hoops Renaissance courts officially opened on Saturday. Council president David Grove commented that they are “the most beautiful basketball courts” he has ever seen. Kearney reported the courts will host a summer league starting in June including a men’s over-forty league grouped by neighborhood.
During the whirlwind visit of former President Bill Clinton, Kearney had the opportunity to meet with the former President, who recalled his time in Swarthmore many years ago as a Rhodes Scholar winner. Clinton’s informal advisor was Gil Stott. Town lore has it that Gil Stott had a sign over his sink that stated, “The president of the U.S. washed dishes here — you can too.” Clinton remarked to Kearney how very lucky he was to be mayor of such a wonderful town.
Despite the cancellation of the Swarthmore Rotary Charity Fun-Fair, the ribbon-cutting of the Swarthmore College Campus and Community Store went as planned, as did tours of the Inn. Kearney suggested that perhaps a separate session of council following Monday’s legislative session could take place at the Broad Table Tavern.
In Central Park news, the construction of several walls from rammed earth has begun. The contractors working at the site are very curious, having never seen anything like this before. Kearney expressed his satisfaction that “We get to build our own walls with our own dirt,” and again mentioned that in the weeks to come community members are going to be asked to volunteer to come and “ram a little earth.”
Council member Lauren McKinney reported 18 people volunteered at a recent workday in Little Crum Creek Park. More volunteers will be requested in the near future to help plant milkweed in an effort to attract butterflies to the park.