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The Abington Citizens Network
where Abington, PA residents can share ideas and join forces to build a better community
 

 

Old York And Susquehanna Rds.

Traffic Improvement
Multiple Grants = $2.8 M

FIRST AND FOREMOST - WHAT YOU NEED  :   Citizens should not have to struggle to get information and have to provide it to other citizens.  Ask your own  Commissioner and Manager Manfredi ( rmanfredi@abington.org ) and Code Chair  Commissioner Brodsky (kbrodsky@abington.org) all to provide a single page with this project's name which should be found under "Residents" on our Township website  ( www.abington.org ).
     The project page should give you a full recap of the history of this project, the multiple grants, all up coming  and past meeting dates, links to meeting minutes, meeting videos,  grant documents, diagrams, plans, etc. . These should be presented in the  chronological order that they appeared. There is a great deal of information to manage. This is how a government serves its residents so their rights are not lost before they understand who is doing what in their town via the actions of the legislators they voted to serve THEM.

 

  Summary  : $ 2.8 million of taxpayer money is going into this project and from the last view that we had, very little of it seems to be slated for serious improvemnt of the traffic situation at that intersection that would benefit all the residents in the Township.    In fact it is of great concern that it was suggested that a million or so of the money might serve to benefit a developer in his project - on the property that the Township has bought or is buying, while just a  very tiny piece of the land, as seen in plans at the July 11, 2019 meeting looks like it  will actually be used to improve  the intersection.  Information has been difficult to get. 

BUT A NEW WRINKLE HAS JUST EMERGED THAT EXPLAINS MUCH OF THE MYSTERY

See: THE ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT CORPORATION  page - and you will see the Township has found a way to "become the developer themselves - while simultaneously distancing themselves from the  development they are choosing to do.

The Commissioners took a first step toward creating this "Economic Development Corporation " at the September 4th, 2019 Public Affairs Committee Meeting.  The Old York Rd project would be among the first that this entity would undertake.  I believe all Abington residents should be deeply troubled by the creation of such an entity which is intended to be a separate entity, with it's own  legal firm,  yet the members would be appointed by the Board of Commissioners and their intent would be to do business with YOUR properties, your grants,  the help of your staff and  of other resources of yours --- and yet be answerable to few if any of the obligations that the Board would have if they, themselves, tried to do business with your tax dollars in the same manner.     This was swiftly and unanimously approved at the Committee meeting withoutout any presentation of the caveats that should concern us  and it might be anticipated that the entity would form fully by approval next week at the Board of Commissioners meeting.  This would be a disaster  in a Township that already is spending your resources to conduct "business"  while letting their prime responsuibilities go by the wayside - allowing residents to continue flooding, blighted properties to receive no citations,  roads to remain unpaved long past their due time etc. 

Old York and Susquehanna  is an intersection that many, if not most  of us travel every day.  It has been called  the highest crash intersection in Abington - and for that honor it was one of 3 to get red light cameras.  For many, many  years it has needed a redo - but was ignored .  Now, despite 2.8 million of taxpayer monies, the focus seems more on building businesses owned by others than seriously addressing the intersection improvements. 

 Your attention and participation are needed to be sure we are not just gifting a few million to a developer (or two, or three) and are left with an intersection only slightly better than it was before.

Please read the below dialogue and note the video link to same where you can freeze frame the plans as they are shown : 
 

Old York Rd / Susquehanna Rd
Project  

 https://abingtonpa.viebit.com/player.php?hash=9WiMZUQBCD2p    Susquehanna and OY

Go Circa 1:21 in on the video

 Bowman  This is  PA 0207 1119 is a motion to accept the Commonwealth financing authority grant number C 0000 70588 and authorize the Township manager to execute the grant agreement by and between the Commonwealth financing authority for the multimodal transportation fund grant which supports the old York Road/Susquehanna Road project and I so move

 comments from commissioners from staff, residents

 

Manfredi     some of commissioners seeking, I'm guessing were claiming money that we can claim to continue our efforts to improve the culture process when a road area but I'll certainly you except comment from the manager on that item, without the public, to ships is a but will be there soon since is because back to 2016 approve the contract that was extended by DCED a month ago for the one corner- we’re going to show you again just for everyone's edification and as a reminder what exactly were talking about and where and what that money is going to be used for.
Back in 2016 it was granted and awarded for a five-year period going through June 30, 2021 
 
1:22  shows pictures on screen 
  so we need to move forward on this. And we had the other grant for the first part of the corner ( He adjusts and centers the picture on the screen )  from DCED.  
   We had 2 grants from DCED- ----- DCED 1 and  DCED 2.  
DCED 1 which you approved an extension in the contract which we had to get to PennDOT…..
 There are three pieces to this – there are two grants from DCED and one from PennDOT  the total was 2.8 million for the whole project . We approved the previous (one) for these properties.  The Solicitor's in the process of acquiring 1907  (
Karate studio) negotiating –1907 . That will take care of these. This grant is to acquire and demolish these as well. The ultimate goal isn’t so much to develop this property, although that is one goal – but the ultimate goal is as an economic development initiative to make improvements in turning lanes at Old York and Susquehanna.(2nd picture is now up showing the small section of the corner  that is marked off to improve the intersection ……   note added normally the developer must make necessary traffic  improvements ) 
So if we were to demolish these properties and if the Township were not to develop it, you're going to be hearing more discussion and the board would be debriefed on economic development initiatives and corporations and other benefits by which to develop this property, but if nothing else by going through these grants in these locations we will be able to make the necessary transportation intersection improvements so that down the line, once this is all done, if you decide not to develop this on our own or through another entity we will at least have made a million dollar investment that will reduce the cost for someone else to come in and develop this corner in a manner and in a way that's acceptable to the Township
  S
o that's what this second $900,000 is for. Once this gets approved we will sign off on the agreement with PennDOT for the rest of the monies to come to us – and the monies we have to provide for the match have been budgeted.
   So again, an overview of why, for those who have been around 2016, why we are where we are and why we need to do this now because we need to get this to DCED so we don't lose this money – Any questions?

 

Schreiber  is the grant money more for the road itself or the buildings, or both so will like sidewalks be included or it would that be for the actual development take down the problems in that tiny little space

 

Manfredi  it's to take down, well to acquire, and take down buildings. Keep in mind, negotiations and discussions have not even begun on this  
Schreiber  OK thank you

 

DiPlacido is that building the Vintage? Answer was yes . DiPlacido  OK  

Bowman   obviously this project started smaller, we were just going to improve  the intersection with a couple buildings being purchased and now it's grown into a larger thing where we’re going to try and acquire more buildings maybe create some green space there for Abington Township, a public area ----that’s all potential. Initially I don't think we were going to try and acquire the Vintage or  the building next to it, but it certainly makes sense to do so we’re trying  improve the safety because we all know the Vintage and  the building next to it are also 1 ft from 611 so it's totally unsafe and the I support the project in it’s enlarged form or in any form because that corner needs attention

Luker Commissioners comments?  Comments  from residents ?

Lora  Lehmann 1431 Bryant Ln. Do we know if there is a single page for this project that I can go to because I couldn't find one today. Is there a single page, posted on the website with the details  of this project, including the documents and everything.

 Manfredi – yes , I’m looking at them.

Lora  There is one okay --so I haven't found it yet. How do I find that ?

Manfredi   if you go to the agenda and you look up the backup document under PA that's…

 

Lora    So…  that  doesn't work. Going to the agenda – who knows that  and what agenda do you go  to so what we need is, if we have a page,  can we link it to something that people can find….. like  construction projects, development , something …..   a category where people could find this.  What agenda would I go to?.

 

Manfredi if you go to the agenda ….for this meeting and you look at the way the agenda is laid out. The first thing you'll see is the agenda item number, the date, the department, if there's a fiscal impact, If there's a public bid required --- it will  identify the agenda item&  will identify & give you an executive summary it mentions……

Lora  I’m asking if there is …..  

 Manfredi  there is also a fiscal note that will discuss the fiscal impact and  the analysis of that And  there is the resolution from 2016, there is the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania

 Lora May I interrupt ?  (
Manfredi is taking the residents speaking time with no concern as to WHAT it is she is looking to have answered ) 

Manfredi. It is  the agenda where the public goes to look at the agenda and all the  supporting documents are there  I'm sorry if  she’s having trouble finding it  but it's there.  ( Manfredi knows what the resident is seeking because this has been an issue his whole time here …. )   

Lora I've been working with the public for 13 years and if I asked anybody who is interested in this project if they knew where those documents were……… What I'm asking you is to put a place where we have all the issues of the Township. You could put them all on one page. Any issue you're looking for and put it on there  alphabetically S for  Susquehanna or  York you  can put it  under  S or under Y and people would know to look there. Whatever you name the project but someplace that we can go and find the page that has all those documents. Once we are done with this meeting and we are  up to next week, the same people might still need to see these documents. So yes you do have those documents there, but they're not on a page labeled with this project that anyone can find. I have been begging you for a dozen years to do that and I will ask again…. please can we do that? …. so that people like myself can go and see all the documents because we’ve had quite a history of this project and that page is only the current documents.

   The other thing is,  that what we think it was on the other one – a very small widening on  this this part here. A very small section. It looked like is going to be a little bit more turn worthy and then there was a circle here…….. it  is my understanding that there is a plan for a bus stop –or not? Where the circle on the other one is?    Is this a bus stop ?

 Manfredi  There is ---that correct ---a bus stop (...?)  there is a bus stop there.

 

Lora So, that being, I think, the most accident-prone intersection in the Township I think  the wisdom of putting a bus stop in the middle of that intersection, drawing people to walk to that busy intersection and putting more traffic there …  and buses have a crazy time trying to make those corners …and  you're only widening this a little bit take more of this ( where the buildings now are)  and make this a separate turn lane and make it a place where large trucks and buses can actually make their maneuvers and put your bus  somewhere else . This is not okay here
And the other thing that I'd like to understand is we have acquired more than what you were r planning to acquire and I'd like to know what the plan for the whole thing is and so if you put up a single page and show us what your plan is, that's what we're were looking for. Okay, so somewhere we need to understand this and have some input before you get done building a bus depot. The residents need to be able to have input

 Luker  thank you ..  Next speaker address please

1:31
Resident  My name is Joe Rozak   I live at 1927 Susquehanna Rd. Here is my house Right now it is underwater because the Vintage has no storm water containment and it has been expanding over the past 10 years . There been several changes that have increased that - that's aside -  not  my problem right now.
   I went over this project with my commissioner several years ago when this  was presented to this group. The money that you were looking for was to buy these buildings. I was also promised that I would be in on discussing some of these project considerations.   I'm affected by it a lot. I have not heard anything. I have not heard anything. I’m very angry. Very angry. I have looked on your  website and I cannot  find anything. All I have is a program that was presented three years ago. It  was a presentation ….a PowerPoint .  There are problems at that intersection - serious problems. The owner of the Vintage says he's putting in storm water drainage . That’s not true.  I would like to be in on this.   I would like something to help. Those of us who live on the edge are vulnerable to all your decisions --especially me.  thank you,

Luker  manger Manfredi…

Manfredi  Mr Rozak and everyone else I wasn’t here when project originated, but I can tell you that there is no project as of yet. There are three component pieces to moving this forward and  designing it . The first piece is acquiring the properties with the grant funds. That was done. The second would be …..the ones you pointed to Mr. Rozak  closest to the  intersection are a different grant . That’s  not this grant. The ones on the agenda for today, see the little yellow Post-it note , are those properties it , above the Vintage and above. And its for acquisition and demolition.
And then the third piece of it is the third grant from PennDOT which is on the other map and are closest to the intersection. There is no plan is my point. And I'm quite certain, knowing Commissioner Spiegelman who was the chair of that committee and this board, that there will be a public process for anything that happens as we go forward.

 
Luker
Mr Bowman  ?  
Bowman nothing
Luker Are there any other comments from residents ? If not then it has been moved and seconded.  all those in favor ( all say aye)  motion passes

 

1:35-15 

__________________________

  9-4-19  Public Affairs Committee Meeting   -  Part 1 of the surprize creation of an Economic Development Corporation . 

         A fully separate and independent entity ( really? - I don't think so ...)  is about to be created  where the Commissioners get to appoint the board members of a supposedly independent corporation - already making it not really independent.  I may be misunderstanding some of this because it was barely discussed - and there was  no discussion about pros and cons or  any actual  presentation of figures. Just a long argument over whether the new legal firm setting this up at $345 per hour should cap the set -up costs or not. (They agreed on a soft cap - ie: they won't be held to it.  )

     The Commissioners all seemed wildly in favor. Why wouldn't they be? The ability to appoint someone to a board where you can direct grants and taxpayer resources, where you make the laws and rules on the propertties and zoning and you control  the oversight...... an entity that can become financially wealthy - independently  from all the rules that would bind you if you tried to do this - being a separate entity and all.  Who would not expect the campaign coffers to bulge at election time and people to vie for postitions on such a board?   Who thinks it is a good idea for a government who has not figured out how to use your money to meet the dire and crucial  needs of the residents they serve to begin instead to use available funds  to do business ----- oh ... yes ---separate entity and all. 

      It is fascinating how they found money immediately for this - but seem not to be able to find the money for those who have for years had flooding problems........  Can you see why this is a bad idea ?   The regulators of the business  are now the benefactors of the business. They will direct it --- sort of --- but not really.  Right? The business will not be bogged down with all those messy laws-- and it won't be the Commissioners profiting...right . It will be the entity made up pf the people they appointed --- and helped and guided.....   It will be the goal, in fact,  of the new entity to "profit" so as to be financially independent.  Maybe even "give back to the community " and spawn other businesses.   The new entity will be  quite separate ... well,  sort of ... well, not really... but yes, legally. And decide who to help .....    Ooooh myyyyyy .......... Stay tuned. More to come. Much more to learn.  Look up WAMS while you're at it. They come in many forms - not just the garden variety.  Even perhaps some newly created ones.....   Your thoughts are welcome  ( lel@abingtoncitizens.com )

 



    Please feel free to send your  information to us  and please be sure to  tell us about any information you believe to be incorrect - write  lel@abingtoncitizens.com

 

 

 

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