August 10, 2006
The Jackson Township Supervisors held their regular meeting at 8:03 a.m. at the Jackson Township Municipal Building. Members present were Supervisors Dave Bracken, Bruce Baker, Bob Stephens along with Secretary-Treasurer / Manager Dave Hirko. The meeting was called to order by Dave Bracken, Chairman with the Pledge of Allegiance to the flag.
Board Roll Call was taken with all three Supervisors present.
Public Comments Concerning Agenda Items:
Chairman Bracken said, we will now have a discussion to discuss the Americorp position and the selection of an applicant who will be working with the Jackson Township Recreation Commission on the planning and carrying out of various events and activities for one year through August of 2007. Supervisor Stephens said, Iíd like to make a comment. I think thereís two things we need to look at here. The first one is at the selection process and going over the candidates, we all know we interviewed 3 people, the 4th person didnít show. Iíd taken a position and made it public prior that thereís also something else we need to consider. . . the fact that Americorps going to subsidize the hiring cost factor. . .itís going to cost the Township about $5,000 a year. Do we actually need to get out and have somebody at an additional cost of $5,000 to get out and help the Recreation Commission when the Recreation Commission has a 9 member Board thatís been real active. Do we really warrant spending an extra $5,000. . . my own personal feeling is that itís a question mark. . . but due to the fact that the job done by the Recreation Commission. . . .I lean towards hiring somebody in an effort to help because itís a payment in a kind of way for an excellent job theyíve done in the past year to two years. What we have to be cautious about is the fact that this could be the next first step towards an additional cost of having a Parks & Recreation Director on a permanent basis. Itís quite expensive and this is usually how the steps proceed, so we have to be aware to look ahead at this possibility. Whatís in the best interest of everybody concerned. . .those two things we need to consider before we actually get out and hire somebody. Do we want to spend that additional $5000. Bracken said, I think we got to utilize our parks more. I think we got Leidy Lane sitting idle for a long time. I think we do need somebody to give us some direction as to what we need to do there. . . thereís so many things that could go on at this park to benefit people in the Township. We need someone with a little bit of insight. Thereís so many different activities that could be set up such as walk-a-thons. We got to utilize the parks and Leidy Lane is not being utilized enough. Supervisor Baker said, I agree with you both. Although we have a nine member board, theyíre volunteers. I think itís difficult to get those volunteers and it would be a really good idea if we had that person to do that work but you could see where it could be headed eventually down the road too. Stephens said, itís a possibility so we need to be cautious about it. Bracken said, I really think we got to utilize our parks. I think Leidy Lane needs utilized. Stephens said, so what weíre considering here is we had 3 applications. . actually 4. There were 3 interviews and 1 "no show". Of the 3 applicants, 1 withdrew their application, so it ended up with just 2 applications where interviews were conducted that are viable at this time. Bracken said, should we put this on the back burner or should we act on it? Manager Hirko said, there is a time factor as to when the person is supposed to start. Stephens said, I think we have to do it by the 15th or 16th? Hirko said, they want you to have a selection by then. Baker asked, if nothingís done this year, does that eliminate this position in the future? Hirko replied, thereís nothing definite, but I think they would frown upon that. Thereís no guarantee either way, but itís not easy to get awarded a position. Joe Baxter said, I suggest that the Township Supervisors follow through with the applicant provided to them. The process could be wrong and in the future, maybe try to set up a better evaluation program. . . .but try to at least get this person on board and go on so the Township wouldnít suffer and recreation wouldnít suffer, I would suggest you accept that ladyís application. . . and maybe next time, use a point system and if somebody from the Township does apply, maybe give them a little bit . . like 10% or 1 or 2 points over an outside candidate and also make the hiring process easier for the applicant . . like Americorp said, we could hire them here in the Township and have a file at the Township. The only thing Iím saying is that a Township resident was made to jump through some hoops. Tim Davis said, Iíd like to comment as a resident. I think that Mr. Stephens addressed a concern on dollars and I can appreciate that. . .Bruce & Dave. . all of you. . . .but I think itís a well known fact as seen on the Today Show and other programs all over the country that what industry and business and people are looking for today is based on recreation. Thatís one of the number 1 rankings that people are using when evaluating where they want to live. . . where they want to play is where they want to stay. Our recreation, this four lane highway. . . along with this Economic Development are the two key factors that will move this along. I think that you seriously need to consider as a resident that you will, in my opinion, need a supervisor or a paid position at some point for recreation. The size of the Township is almost 45 square miles along with the development thatís going to occur in the future. . . somewhere youíre going to need some type of position. I canít guarantee itís now, next year or whatever the case may be. I think youíre going to have to start planning on absolutely using more money in the budget for recreation, because it is a number 1 factor where people choose to live. . .in the Master Plan that was presented to the Township and the residents. . . .we want to build trails. . .trails are a number 1 attraction right now. We have the Ghost Town Trail down there. . .Staple Bend tunnel down there attracts over 200,000 people per year. We need to funnel those people through our Township. To make a long story short, I would urge you to consider this not a dollar and cents issue every time it comes up. Consider it an economic issue. Recreation is the key to most young people and even older people today. . .look at our walking tracks and how heavily theyíre used in the Township. Look at other things that are heavily used by our young people and we havenít even started with any programs yet. Iím urging you that . . . . our budget to the best of my knowledge itís $20,000 for recreation. . . if we have anything major to do thatís not even a drop in the bucket today. . .so what Iím urging you to do as a resident is to prepare for the future. . . spend more money on our recreation to make it as much of a priority as your Economic Development Committee is because thatís where the future is. My comment is that you need to prepare at some point. . .we are going to need a staff. . maybe 1, maybe 2, maybe 3 or maybe none but the point is, we ought to start planning for the future with recreation. I think the Master Plan did and I think the 9 members on the Recreation Commission are very hard working the same as all the other Commissions so I would urge you to do that in the future. Bracken said, I think that If you look at the Budget, I think youíll find that the Township has been very generous in support of the Recreation Commission. Hirko said, the $20,000 is pretty much maintenance. . . that doesnít involve any construction type projects. Clair Michaels said, youíre talking about having a Director. . okay. . .this person who directs has all kinds of things going on. . .is there going to be space and times where kids can just go over there and carry on and do what they want to or is it going to be limited to . . . .weíre not allowed to do this at all? My sister lived by a playground in Cleveland and thatís the way it was set up. . . the Director said you could only do certain things and that was it. Kids couldnít go in there and just do what they wanted to. Bracken said, people walk in our parks anytime. Michaels said, yes but is this whatís going to happen. . . .the Directors are going to have this going on and that going on and the kids arenít going to be able to do what they want to do. . just go in there and run and carry on. Bracken said, I think the idea of this is if we have a Director who says. . this is for the kids. . . a place where people go. . families for picnics. Itís a long term thing. Baxter said the parks are never shut. Whenever there was Dogs Deserve Better, the park was still open. . being utilized with the walking track, playground. Michaels said, yes but that wasnít very big. . but some of them. . they have volleyball, soccer teams. . now youíre shut down. Baxter said, our facilities never did that. Hirko said, I canít imagine that happening. . right now you got volleyball courts over there that are hardly ever used. Baker added, I think thatís the bigger issue. . .theyíre not being used. We need to create programs that get the kids out to use the parks more but we have to make sure that would never happen. .what youíre talking about. Michaels said, thatís what Iím getting at. . . you donít want that kind of stuff in there and itís limited to who gets on there actually. Bracken said, thatís why we have a Master Plan at the Township office. . .so everybody can know whatís going on. Davis said, I do want to clarify the fact that the Supervisors have spent a large quantity over the years in the Budget on the Master Plan or $100,000 over a certain period of time and I want to thank them in addition to our regular Budget amount. Please remember though, like some other areas in the Township, we played "catch up" with recreation. . . there were things that needed to be repaired. . major items like backstops, fencing and things that needed to be up kept and you canít do that cheaply. I think once we get things to an organized position. . . . .I do want to remind everyone, recreation is not limited to just as we think about baseball, basketball, football, hockey. . . .itís a fishing derby with sponsorship from groups like the Sportsmans Club. . .itís also things such as at the Senior Center. Thereís a thing such as therapeutic activity. . .recreation is knitting. . recreation goes beyond all of things that you could ever conceive of. There may be programs that need developed at the Senior Center. . .there may be other youth groups out there. I donít think weíll run into a problem with parks bring over-utilized. . I think weíll run into a problem with being innovative. We have a large group of young people that do want something and that was reflected with the Teen Dance we had at the Festival. There was a group that showed up and they enjoyed what they had that evening. There wasnít any disruption or anything. . .so please keep in mind when you consider recreation itís not just baseball, basketball, football and hockey. Itís diverse things but if you look at a program. . .the Young Peoples Community Center, City of Johnstown or East Hills Recreation. . .these commissions sponsor playground activities and so many hours a day. The person youíre wanting to hire here. . I think it might be a start but I canít say exactly if itís going to be the whole approach. I just wanted to make sure I clarify that. . youíve been very generous and we really appreciate that. You must always remember, we have liability issues to. . .if you donít maintain your parks and the swings are not properly inspected and the see-saws arenít maintained, we have as much liability there as you do with anything else. I was just trying to make a point, we must consider all of these factors when we consider recreation. Baker said, but then it comes back to putting maintenance into something that nobody uses. If I recall, the Food Pantry claims they serve 300 families. Did you ever go to the Senior Center down there when they have dinners. . . you know how many people are there? You get 6 or 8 people down there, thatís it. Thatís a shame for that facility. Davis replied, 14 to 18 and thatís first hand knowledge. Will Michaels said, theyíre clear at one end of the Township or even myself to pay and join and go out there. . . I really donít know anything about it . . .but the high cost of fuel is a problem. . . I try to limit as much as possible and just for me to run out from there to there, Iím probably going to use $7 - $8. . . .somebody can say you get 18 miles a gallon but if you live down over a hill like I do and have to get up. . the engineís cold . . you can use a lot of fuel. Clair Michaels said, eventually weíre not going to have all this money coming into the dump, so are tax payers going to be able to afford it in the end. . .itís going to have to come out of our tax dollars. . not out of our Capital Reserve. Baker answered, thatís why we need to build our infrastructure and residential development. C. Michaels said, if you donít get that stuff done . . . weíre spending too much money on other things and we need put money away too for later on so we have money to fall back on because once that dump closes and that gasification thing closes down and who knows how long that dumpís going to stay open. . itís only 37 years and 15 of itís gone already. . youíre only looking at another. . .at the most 20 years on it. Baker said, thatís why you need to invest your reserves. C. Michaels said, Iíve been saying that for the last 15 years. . . we need to invest. . we should have invested half of everything thatís come into this Township on that Capital Reserve. Are we eventually going to be able to maintain all this stuff weíre spending money on right now. Bracken said, I think our infrastructureís going to be the key to all this stuff . . .economic development. . thatís going to make a difference. . your tax base. I think thatís we have to do now. . thatís what we are doing. Motion Stephens that we hire Kelly Lundgren to serve as a Recreational Aide to the Recreation Commission subject to the Township Managerís direction. Baxter said, thatís going to cause a conflict. Stephens said, that has to be done. You canít have a nine member Board get out and determine thatís what one person is going to do. They canít take orders from 9 people. Baxter said, youíre taking it out of Recreationís hand over to one person and that person will oversee the recreation. Stephens said, the Recreation Commission is a recommending body to the Board of Supervisors. . .the Township Manager serves under the direction of the Board of Supervisors and therefore your recommendation should be directed to the Township Manager to facilitate what you need done collectively and thatís the way itís been set up at this time. Baxter said, itís been set up with the Board of Supervisors, not the Township Manager. Stephens said, we discussed this earlier and this is the way itís been set up and even the Recreation Commission discussed it at their July meeting. Baker said, with that being understood, all programs and events need to be approved by the Board. Stephens replied, yes. Baker said, with that being said, Iíll second it. The motion was opened to public comment and there was none. A vote was then taken. Vote-3 yes.
Other New Business:
Joe Baxter said, Iíd like to serve you with my resignation from the Recreation Commission effective today.
Chairman Bracken made an announcement that the Board of Supervisors next scheduled meeting will be held on Thursday, August 31, 2006 at 7:00 pm at the Jackson Township Municipal Building.
Motion Baker, second Stephens to adjourn the meeting at 8:30 a.m. Vote-3 yes.