Tarentum Borough Council met this evening for just over an hour in a meeting marked by heightened shows of mutual respect on all sides. There was a heavy turnout of visitors to the meeting, which led the Council to limit entry to the Council chambers to 39 visitors, the first of whom were Tarentum residents or property owners. It was estimated that 25 people were left outside. The large turnout was due to interest in the proposed Tarentum skatepark. Skateboarders from around the area were both inside and outside.
As the time for citizen comments began, Council President Magnetta said that he had turned 180 degrees in his attitude toward the proposed park. He told about visiting the public skateparks in Cranberry and Millvale, and how impressed he was by the Cranberry facility. He continued to want the park to have some location other than Crab Diamond, and described some alternative locations together with anticipated challenges in moving the project.
The agenda for the meeting showed that President Magnetta had made new committee appointments after the organizing meeting of Council. He had appointed himself as the chair of the Parks and Recreation Committee. There were a number of positive interchanges during the meeting between Mr. Magnetta and Councilwoman Sopcak, in which she brought him up to speed on relevant information she had obtained in guiding the skateboard park project to this date. Mr. Magnetta said he wanted the local skateboarding youth to be involved in the design of the park. According to Councilwoman Sopcak the previous week the Parks and Recreation Committee had scheduled Feb. 13 for that purpose; Mr. Magnetta thought that would work but there might be something else that needs to happen in Council chambers that evening. Mr. Magnetta assured the youth that the design meeting would be publicized so they could be involved. Councilwoman Sopcak thanked President Magnetta for his change of heart about the skateboard park.
Residents who spoke at the meeting expressed support for the skateboard park, concern for the dredging of Bull Creek, and concern about a cat problem in the 2nd Ward.
At the time of President's comments, Mr. Magnetta explained that the Council had been in executive session immediately before the meeting in order to conduct interviews of candidates for a position at the water plant.
Mayor Wolfe gave his report of the activities of the police department, at the conclusion of which he voiced his concerns about a possible noise problem at the skateboard park. Mr. Magnetta assured him that there had been no noise problem at the skateboard park in Cranberry.
When the time came for committee reports I was watching with great interest to see how the business would be handled. The only committee that had held a public meeting since the last Council meeting had been the Parks and Recreation Committee, yet almost all of the committees had various actions listed under them. I was naturally wondering when the committees had decided to make all of those recommendations. As the committee reports were presented, it became clear that each motion was coming from individual council members for consideration by the whole council. (If the motions had actually been coming from the committees, there would have been no need for anyone to second them. But every motion was seconded by a council member.)
The Council reopened the 2006 budget to address a number of concerns. They added $30,000 to the budget to help out the three fire companies, and $7,000 to cover additional expenses for the skatepark to be constructed from concrete. (Incidentally, in December I had wondered what the Council had meant when it had "tabled" the skatepark issue as it adopted the advertised budget. I learned tonight that the budget the Council had adopted in December had already included about $28,000 for the borough's contribution toward the cost of the park. Tabling in this case meant that the borough was keeping open the possibility of not going forward with the park project.)
The Council also approved the Borough Manager to obtain a Tax Anticipation Loan of up to $200,000 if needed.
In a series of motions, the Council reappointed Karen Marietti to the Civil Service Commission, reappointed Ginger Sopcak to the Planning Commission, and reappointed Cynthia Kramer to the Zoning Hearing Board. The Council also acted to advertise two vacancies on the Civil Service Commission.
The Council voted to start the hiring process for two full time police officers. The Council hopes that the cost can be covered by money already budgeted for part time employees.
The Council considered a request from the VFW for "Loading Zone/No Parking" signs on Wood St. It appears that someone has already put such signs up without borough approval. The Council voted to deny the request and to require the unauthorized signs to be taken down; yellow paint on the curb is sufficient.
The Council approved an annual resolution on River Conservation from Emlenton to Harmar.
Councilwoman Sopcak informed the Council that she had received a letter approving a DCED request for a grant for an outdoor video projector that can be used to show movies in the summer in Riverview Park.
Tonight the Valley News Dispatch was represented by freelance reporter Misty Chybrzynski, so Valley residents should look forward to a good article in tomorrow's paper.
This meeting struck me as much more orderly than some I had observed recently. Nevertheless, near the end of the meeting there was an increasing amount of chatter from observers at the back of the room that made it hard for me to hear what was being said. Even one of the Council members was having trouble hearing what other Council members were saying. I hope the Council continues to make progress in working together in an orderly way, and that the observers will also become more respectful of the work of the Council.