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2013 Until the end of last year, I did not
really have any full perspective of the real extent of this
problem . I have at this point spoken to probably 100
people who are experiencing flooding in Abington and her sister
townships. Cheltenham's problems are even more dire because
whatever we do in Abington, upstream, affects them downstream.
The situation is not good --- hundreds - possibly thousands of
properties flooding . But what I find most confounding is that
while they are desperately trying to decide what should be done
in one room/meeting, in the next room/meeting they are approving
yet another project that takes more greenspace than the code
allowed , creating more "water management" systems that
release water into the already overburdened streams, and
providing no sign of management.
As of this date there are millions of dollars of flood
remediation projects on the radar for both townships and
millions of dollars of sewer issues. In order to accommodate
developers, who are being given rights way in excess of what
they bought, the taxpayers are forking over million to build,
run and maintain pumping stations and "creative" solutions to,
for instance, by-pass Cheltenham's sewer moratorium.
It is positively mind-boggling to see the whole picture .
Individual residents are frustrated and some have lost
faith that anything will be done. Some are contemplating
lawsuits - others are trying to sell . Solutions are
few --- while exceptions to the zoning code are still being
I was concerned
about the "paying in the future" aspect of this ---- now I am
concerned about the fact that we are creating an unsolveable
situation, that no amount of money can fix.
The Commissioners have put approx 3
million out to bond twice - so here's the problem - why are we
freely spending on other "niceties" while the important work of
storm water management is being put out to bond . We have seen
outrageous expenses for "wants" . Essentially, we are
putting our "wants" out on bonds --- let someone in the future
pay for them. How will we stop that and get back to
a pattern of spending responsibility . Here is the
Our futures and that of our children depend on us
seeing that HERE is where and how debt is created.
Every taxpayer in Anerica is $120,000 in debt at this point.
The Township has put many projects on the slate --- but
homeowners are still flooding and in danger of flooding
and taxpayers can be concerned about how many bonds are being
floated - and paying in the future.
Millions of dollars can be found for
creating an Arts & Theater Center, building a Soccer Clubhouse, putting fancy fences around Alverthorpe, adding a sidewalk to
nowhere at the Art Center, manicuring the 9 hole golf course &
widening the paths, we
have homeowners in desperate need of infrastructure improvements
but we are floating bonds to do just a small percentage of the
work, telling the others they'll have to live in fear of each
rainstorm --we're not going to help you now. Fiscal
responsibility would put infrastructure obligations first.
When a car spins out in the flood waters on Tyson Avenue it may
be too late. (see
where the money goes )
who live by the creek are dismayed that while they are
being told they live in a flood plain, ( they do ) it is not the floodplain
they live in causing the problem. Waters from
plain areas are being piped via storm drains into the creek, essentially pumping water
into a flood plain.
(Floodplain maps are simply re-drawn --- but homeowners
can't "draw" a dry basement or "draw" away the waters rising up
their back yards. The solution to the over-building for one homeowner is putting
another in jeopardy. The township reports it is
putting in perforated pipes and making use of French drains to
try to reduce the waters that reach the creek rather than
increase them, but this statement was later amended to clarify that only a
small section of pipes- those on the homeowners property are
perforated. All the water that makes it into the stree
through these pipes gets channeled to the creek. The perforated pipes have the downside of
filling with dirt or causing "sinkholes" from washing away dirt.
(This dirt must also wash into the non perforated pipes. Creekside owners report renewed
hi-water danger since these projects have been instituted.
Other homeowners have had to call in the DEP to get the
township to deal with water diverted to their property from
other properties .
Are we really 30 million behind in Flooding projects - that is
$1400 per household
But wait - after identifying the
flooding remediations needed to be $30 million after the August
09 meeting, the Township manager has now said (11-10-10 meeting)
that the remaining 24? or 25? million consists
only of nuisance items or items that are the
responsibility of the home owner. Huh? Then why were they
on the list in the first place? Don't we identify who has
ownership before we spent the time to estimate a project's
As has been pointed out to the commissioners many times, there are
many many people in the Township who are flooding who did not
even know about the August 2009 meeting. I find them every day
when I talk to people about other issues.
The flooding in this Township has a
great deal to do with overdevelopment. and yet we have the
Zoning Rewrite Committee wose prime task seems to be over
development. They are creating new ordinances and
districts all over this Township which, if implemented, will
increase density, flooding ,traffic, parking problems, and
remove green space, among other problems. In street after street after street in this
Township, resident after resident is affected. I don't think
any of us has the whole picture because so many residents have
not yet spoken up. Some of them became victims of flooding after
other areas right near them were "fixed". It is heart wrenching to hear
the stories of people who have been so burdened by the treat of
even a normal rain. It is not just the financial damage,
but the heartbreak of all of the work and disruption. And then
the fear of getting all the mold out and wondering what will
happen in the next rain. The
inability ( or lack of will ) of the township to mediate this
problem has put a high "tax" on some.
11-10 In the 2009 budget the
commissioners floated the bond for $3 million
Some work was done out of existing
funds- perhaps to the tune of 1 million or two
And though the budget is not finalized at this point it appears
that another couple million will be budgeted in the 2011 budget.
This is what's being done after identifying what at one time was
$30 million behind in flood repair projects. The amount of staff
that could handle such a load was one reason given for being
behind. Yet I have not heard a request for any additional staff
for this or previous budgets .
12-09 Yes it's true .
$30 million . According to the Township Engineer, before this summer's
Flooding meeting they had identified about 15 million in
Flood related projects ( 12
million of that 15 , I was told was for the Keswick area.
The Keswick pipe project became a disaster for both Abington and
Cheltenham. Many, many lives were affected and millions in
property and remediation ..... )
AFTER the August 2009 flood
meeting ( which, as you may well imagine, only a small
percentage of residents even knew about ) they added on another
15 million estimated fixes - to total 30 million . That is
$1400 per household in Abington of debt ............while Commissioners
have continued to brag about not raising taxes for 18 years (
which wasn't true for other reasons as well - like removing the
services that were covered. )
To watch this unfold has been
incredible. One resident who said (circa 07) he had been
flooding for 20 years was told that it was because Tyson Ave is a State road and there was nothing the Commissioners
could do - they can't touch a State Rd. He's have to wait (and
flood) for 5 more years til the state had it on it's plan.
When another resident asked about it this - he was told to come to a meeting.
He did and the result.....? At the meeting he was simply
told the same thing again. Huh ? So WHY was
he asked to come? This kind of shenanigans discourages
residents - they are left running in circles with no one who
stops to help.
After the meeting I learned that it is, in fact, NOT the State's
responsibility once the water leaves the road --- it is the
Township's. We had 10 million in the General Fund at that
point with only a little allocated to any specific projects ---
so WHY, I asked, would these neighbors have to keep flooding for
another 4 or 5 years ???
The township ultimately allocated money ( I believe
did some fixes that made a difference for this resident. Others on his
street still have some problems but the problems have generally
been lessened. Someone please tell me why they did not get
relief as soon as they asked?
Another neighbor in Rydal
testified that he lost somewhere around $50,000 in a
recent storm - on the heels of many other losses that he
recently suffered. One resident testified that it took 4
years and the threat of a lawyer before something was done .
Some neighbors' houses have been compromised - and while we have
spent millions buying properties back - we still have
others want theirs bought .
By not using
taxes $ to put in proper storm drainage, by not recognizing that
our streams are full, we are irresponsibly still allowing green
space to be paved over and diverting that water first
to holding tanks and then to streams . The
neighbors receiving these waters are paying what can only be
called "additional taxes" - huge in many cases- for the
After the Flood meeting I went to the next
meeting and asked the Engineer why people flooding were not
getting help. His answer was two-fold . 1) If there is a stream
involved or other complication, DEP & other regulators
makes you jump through lots of hoops ( OK - so lets get the
paperwork started - it's not even started on half of these ) and 2) there is only so
much you can do in a year with a staff of 4 ( OK - so lets
see how many engineers we need and hire them . Period. Need
money ? Findf out how much the tax collector is really making - and shift some
of that over to engineering . Look at all the wish list items
you spend on and cut them out . I could name you
places that money was allocated for projects far less
important and for "wants" instead of " needs".
meeting, can it be true that with 30 million in storm water
management to consider, we only wrote into the budget
$3500 for Engineering staff and $300,000 for additional
flood projects ?? Please tell me that's not true ....
In Dec 09 the Commissioners spent a full meeting mulling over
whether we might ( or might not float a bond for just $3 million
. Forget the other $27 million that was on the $30 million list
. Shall we leave
that as a gift for the grandkids - & let some continue to pay their "rain tax"
. Or maybe a better name is the "we didn't raise taxes for
18 years or fix the problems we knew about" tax.
If you have a different
perspective --or have come comments you'd like to share
here - please -
contact me and help me see your view.
DOES all the money
that we need to fix the
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