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Upper Frederick to Livestream Meetings
Written by Mark Nolan, Correspondent
2024-02-21

            At the February 14 Upper Frederick Board of Supervisors meeting, members voted to authorize the livestreaming of board meetings on YouTube and discussed the fate of a local schoolhouse.

            Before any motion could be made on livestreaming, Supervisor Sean Frisco expressed strong reservations about the need to do so. His concerns included: retention requirements, additional labor for township staff, viewership, and managing public comment.

            Chairman William Landman said that he views livestreaming as a public service, allowing residents to participate in meetings from their homes.

            Landman and Vice-chair Lisa Fischer stated that a resident expressed strong interest in Zoom participation at the previous meeting.

            Fischer felt that viewership would not be an issue if people were aware of the option to participate via Zoom.

            Frisco strongly disputed the public's interest in Zoom or livestreamed meetings. He stated, "The desire to record these meetings isn't for the benefit of the township. I think it's to make political attacks."

            Landman reminded Frisco that he was participating in a board meeting, not a political campaign. "I find this childish and completely unprofessional," stated Landman.

            Township Manager Tracy Tackett (not present at the meeting) provided a memo to the board requesting guidance regarding the schoolhouse property and potential next steps. A lengthy and passionate discussion ensued. 

            Resident, and previous township supervisor, Dave Hansen expressed strong concern that the board was considering demolishing the schoolhouse. He was dismayed that the board had stated in a previous meeting that the building had no significant historical value and he strongly advocated for its preservation. The building, constructed in 1892 and located on Big Road, is listed as historically significant on township documentation but is not listed on any official historical register.

            Fischer stated that demolishing the building was only one of several options that the board was considering and the immediate focus of the board was to obtain an accurate assessment of the building's condition. Other options include restoring or selling the building. Fischer stated that she supported using the $100K reimbursement grant to restore the outside of the structure.

            Resident Keven Murray also expressed strong support for the schoolhouse restoration, stating that the township could utilize a $100,000 reimbursement grant and $381,000 in COVID relief funds for the project, thereby minimizing the cost to township residents. He felt that the township could use the additional space for a meeting room.

            Landman responded, "I have to answer to this entire township."

            Some residents did not agree that the township should invest heavily in the schoolhouse and felt that the people most interested in preserving the building should provide the funds to do so.

            Landman repeatedly questioned the financial wisdom of investing significant sums of money in a building that may not be worth the investment, as recent evaluations indicate significant deterioration of the structure has occurred. He obtained an email from Bob Wood at the Goshenhoppen Historians Inc., who stated that he "did not see any historical value whatsoever in the structure."

            He cited recent polls that indicated that preserving the schoolhouse was low on the list of resident's priorities.

            In conclusion, the board decided to move forward with the consolidation of the township's five separate parcels, including the schoolhouse property. The board decided against selling the schoolhouse property or moving forward with renovation work at this time.

            During the public comment period, resident Don Cabot accused Landman and Fischer of reneging on a campaign promise to stop the Blantyre housing development on Big and Colonial roads. He produced Landman's campaign literature stating that Landman "would stand up to developers."

            After a brief but testy discussion, resident George Jones stated, "I just don't like the whole tenor of what's going on here. We're here for a township meeting and we're trying to get business done, and we're rehashing election things and political things and I just think we need to stick to the business of the community."

            Resident Dave Garlich stated that Landman's campaign literature claimed he would stop "back door deals." He then stated that Landman had held an executive session immediately after being sworn in.

            Acting township solicitor Richard P. Almquist, Jr. then explained the purpose of executive sessions, which are commonly conducted by township boards.

            The board authorized resolutions for the emergency operations plan, a fee schedule for issuing requests for proposals from the township engineer & water/sewer environmental engineer, and accepted the planning commission's annual report.   The township is currently scheduling solicitor interviews.

            The fire company responded to 16 calls in January, eight of which were in the township. Fire company personnel spent 285 hours on fire-related activities. Upcoming fundraising events include an Easter Flower Sale on March 29 and 30, and a Mother's Day flower sale, date to be determined. There will be a "Painting With a Twist" event on May 16. Details will be posted on the fire company's Facebook page.


 

 

 

 

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