Swarthmore Borough Council opened its meeting this Monday night with a public comment session, and Jackie Dering of the 500 block of Cedar Lane quickly took to the podium to address Council on what she called “a neighborhood health issue.” She spoke of an incident last weekend in which a rabid raccoon bit her next door neighbor. Although that raccoon was captured and killed, she said, “That means there are other animals with rabies — that raccoon had to get it from somewhere.” She noted that local raccoons can be fairly bold even when not rabid, appearing by day as well as in their typical nocturnal habit.
Although the public comment format does not allow for much give and take, Council President David Creagan assured Dering that relevant committees will take up the issues raised by the rabid raccoon. (Later, it was determined that Public Safety would address the matter at its upcoming meeting on Tuesday, June 18, 7:30 p.m. at Borough Hall.) Dering urged Council to consider how “enforcing the Universal Property Code … might go a long way toward helping what’s becoming a dangerous situation.” She specifically suggested that the borough ensure that “properties be maintained to a level that is not suitable for destructive animal habitat.”
Swarthmore Police have since gone door to door on Cedar Lane, and posted on social media in order to promote awareness of the rabies danger, Chief Ray Stufflet noted that the department would typically refer “wildlife” calls on private property to the borough’s contracted animal control officer, and that removal of an animal would be at the expense of the property owner. However, given the clear danger in this case, an officer “put the animal down,” then called in the Pa. Game Commission, which quickly analyzed the iced raccoon and determined that it was indeed rabid.
Pilot Program for ‘Curb My Clutter’
Environment Committee chair Lauren McKinney recommended that Swarthmore enter an agreement with Curb My Clutter, as an means of increasing recycling at no cost to the borough. McKinney had outlined the program at last week’s council work session, and on June 10, the board showed its enthusiasm by unanimously approving a contract for the borough’s participation in a nine-month pilot program with CMC. The young and growing company provides a platform for residents to simply text or call for free pickup from their curb or front yard of used clothing and electronics (except microwaves and televisions, for which there is a fee). Donors are asked to send photos of the items. CMC provides pickup, and finds buyers for the material collected.
The 16 Pennsylvania and New Jersey municipalities that currently partner with CMC — including Nether Providence, Newtown, and Radnor townships — receive a small fraction of the value of salable recycled electronics collected, and nothing for clothing, but they reduce their waste disposal costs by diverting this material from their waste streams.
Finance Committee chair Michael Carey moved that Council authorize two transfers from the Borough’s operating reserve fund: $100,000 would go to the capital reserve fund, and approximately $400,000 would be used to pay down variable rate debt from about $1.6 million to $1.2 million. Council voted 5-1 to approve the transfers, with member Betsy Larsen voting no and member Ross Schmucki detained in travel.
After continued discussion of the changes to various parking regulations and fees in the town center (reported in the June 7 Swarthmorean), Council was in accord with General Government Committee chair Sarah Graden that more input from merchants and other constituents is needed before a resolution is finalized. All interested parties are invited to express opinions at the committee’s next meeting at 7:30 p.m. on Monday, June 17, at Borough Hall.
Council voted unanimously to advertise and submit to Delaware County planners proposed Ordinance 1087, which would amend Swarthmore’s Borough zoning code to specify the proportion of a residential property which could be covered by impervious surfaces and hardscape, and to sync these proportions and definitions of materials with the specifications of the borough’s new storm water management ordinance.
Finally, adopting its traditional summer schedule, Council agreed to meet only once in the two coming months, for combined work and legislative sessions on Mondays, July 1 and August 12.