Swarthmore Borough Council
By Katie Crawford
The August 14th work and legislative session of Swarthmore Borough Council began by honoring Officer Ray Stufflet for his 25 years of service to the borough. In his remarks Mayor Tim Kearney stated that Stufflet, “exemplified community policing at its best,” and stressed how lucky the borough was to have an officer of his caliber.
With the Police Department one officer short of the ideal staffing level, Chief Brian Craig has reported that he wants to begin looking for new officer candidates under the old requirements in which applicants need to have 60 credits of post-high school qualifying education in order to be eligible. The discussion about whether or not to eliminate this requirement is ongoing, but Chief Craig does not want it to delay his search for candidates.
Council approved a Pollutant Reduction Plan that was created in order to renew a permit issued by the Department of Environmental Protection which allows for the borough to have storm waste discharged into the sewer systems. The plan is required to show a ten percent reduction in sediment runoff in the next five years. The borough has targeted three projects which should reduce the sediment load sufficiently: creating a wetlands area behind the picnic grove at the Swarthmore Swim Club, constructing a retention basin on Henderson Field, and repairing and adding to the riparian buffer (vegetation near stream bed) of the stream located behind the Rutgers Avenue CADES playing fields. The engineer’s estimated cost of these three projects is $710,000, but borough manager Jane Billings stressed that all three projects might not be necessary, or as costly. The source of funding has yet to be determined but could come from grants or a possible taxpayer fee.
Council member Lauren McKinney began a discussion about whether or not the Environmental Committee was becoming redundant since the creation of the Environmental Advisory Committee, and suggested redefining the goal of the Environment Committee if it were to continue to exist.
Council adopted Resolution 2017-07, which urges the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania to join the Climate Alliance. In wake of President Trump’s decision to withdraw from the Paris Climate Accords, many states have opted to join the United States Climate Alliance. The borough’s resolution is intended to encourage Pennsylvania to do so as well.
Ross Schmucki, reporting for the General Government Committee, praised the benefits of having an intern help with coordination of borough services for seniors and encouraged council to consider funding interns in the future as well for this purpose. Current intern Alex Maillet created a brochure for seniors, listing local services and programs. The brochure will be available on the borough’s website as well as in paper form at the library.
Something in the Air … BnB
After much discussion at last month’s regular meeting of the Planning and Zoning Committee, council decided not to change the ordinance regulating Air BnBs and other home-sharing arrangements in the borough. However, the property on Riverview Road which inspired much of the debate is now seeking to become a bed and breakfast. Its owners are asking for a variance which would allow them to rent additional rooms. As part of standard procedure, Council President David Grove asked for the Planning and Zoning Committee to make a recommendation to Council regarding whether they should take a stand for or against the application. The Planning and Zoning Committee will meet in a public session at Borough Hall at 7:30 p.m. on Thursday, August 24.
In other Riverview Road news, the de Botton family, owners of Springfield Square which borders the borough, at last provided solicitor Bob Scott with a planting plan to replace greenery that had been removed this year. The plan will be shared with Vincent Mancini, lawyer for the Riverview residents, who have protested the removal of the border.
New Talent on Boards
Elizabeth Jenkins, a Swarthmore College alumna and relatively recent arrival to the borough, was appointed both to the Environment Committee and to the Planning Commission as an alternate. In both instances she will be filling the vacancy left open by outgoing Planning chair Jon Penders, who is moving out of the borough. Ms. Jenkins is a former Senior Standards Analyst at B Lab. James Levine, a relatively new resident of the borough as well, and a litigator for Pepper Hamilton, was also appointed to serve on the Planning Commission.
John Cordo, also a fairly new resident of the borough, was appointed to the Pension Committee. Cordo works for Brandywine Global Asset Management and oversees pension management as well.
Outdoor Life in the Borough
Council member David Murphy, reporting for Parks and Recreation, informed council that the fireplace in Little Crum Creek Park is beginning to lean and will probably be removed. The fireplace originally was created for use by the Boy Scouts, Girl Scouts, and Sea Scouts who came to the park to gather in a hut that formerly stood at that location as well. (The hut itself had apparently been moved from under the Route 320 overpass where it had served as an office for PennDOT.)
Mayor Tim Kearney celebrated the abundant use of Central Park Swarthmore this summer, highlighting the Thursday Night Live concert series which brings families out for picnic suppers.
Borough manager Jane Billings reminded council of the 2018 budget schedule, which will begin with all of the organizations who received monies last year being asked to propose their funding needs for the coming year. The Swarthmore Senior Citizens Association, which did not receive funding last year, will also be asked to submit its funding request.