In a unanimous vote on Tuesday evening, Borough Council approved final plans for the new Borough Hall.
I questioned several Council members on the whether it was proper to do so without any public review or comment period. There was no notice in the newspaper that this vote was happening on Tuesday, nor was there any publication or plan review made available to my knowledge. When questioned by two Council members if the "notice" was simply the Agenda being posted on the Borough web site, Borough Manager Jean Krack said he was unsure if the Agenda was posted before 5 p.m. on Friday. Despite these questions, the vote went forward and the approval was unanimous.
Public review and comment is not required, but given the state of our economy and the many questions regarding the budget and bond, it would have been the prudent and transparent way to approve this plan.
It seems to me that Borough residents need to be included more directly in a decision that spends millions and is still very controversial within the Borough. Why not print the plans in The Phoenix and ask the public for review and comment?
Given the fact that Council spent several hours reviewing comments on a change to the Fire and Safety ordinance, it strikes me as particularly odd that this plan to approve plans for the new Borough Hall is moving forward so quickly.
(Although on the issue of the fire and safety ordinance, many thanks to Council President Rich Kirkner, who insisted the discussion regarding whether to accept changes to the Fire and Safety ordinance be continued for further discussion. This could mean the difference between our Borough losing or keeping the Dive and Rescue team that has been part of the Borough for decades.)
A special meeting will be held on Tuesday May 29, the day after the Memorial Day holiday, when many people are still away. Its purpose will be to consider the change to the fire and safety ordinance regarding the Dive and Rescue Team, as well as the bids for the new Borough Hall. It will seek to approve and award the winning bid.
I urge all Borough residents to contact their Council representative(s), members of Zoning, Planning & Economic Development Committees, the Mayor and Borough Manger and ask for specifics, to review the plans, and have a public review of all bids before Council votes.