Berwyn Fire Department

Other Side in Tredyffrin

Malvern resident Kathleen Keohane offered her opinion on the Firefighter’s Holiday Drive in this week’s edition of the Main Line Suburban.

Other side in Tredyffrin

To the Editor:

I’d like to respond to a letter in last week’s newspaper by Tredyffrin supervisors Bob Lamina and Paul Olson. It artfully attempts to reframe a series of controversial actions taken by the board over the last month but in my view fails miserably.

 Messrs. Lamina and Olson, along with fellow supervisor Warren Kampf, made the evening news several weeks ago when they presented a giant cardboard check representing funds they’d raised for the township’s three fire companies. The facsimile represented pledges from the community to cover the amount they’d voted to cut from the 2010 budget two weeks before.

This effort by these three “citizen-supervisors,” as they called themselves, was an unnecessary exercise because these cuts should never have been made in the first place. In the absence of dire financial circumstances, adequate funding for our fire companies should never have come under the ax – a position held by surrounding communities that also struggled with this year’s budgets but kept fire funding intact.

Also, in an effort to tie the grand gesture of soliciting for contributions to our fire companies to Republican Party politics, our elected township supervisors perverted their roles as public officials. Much was made of the party’s pledge of “matching funds” both in Lamina and Olson’s letter and at the township’s final BOS meeting. But the money came from individuals who are members of the party and not the party. Yet the windy speech given by the chair of the TTRC before Channel 3 cameras made the source of the funds unclear.

The source of the other contributions opens up a can of worms as well. Do they represent funds normally raised by the fire companies that will cause their separate fund-raising projections to be overly optimistic? Will the funds be allocated according to the individual fire-company cuts or according to the location of the donor? Isn’t there some concern that funds were solicited from companies doing business with the township? For example the law firm of Lamb McErlane contributed in December and one of its partners was reappointed township solicitor on Jan. 4. Liberty Property Trust made a contribution and it will bring a matter before the board sometime this year involving the possible condemnation of land to build an access road. Even the slightest whiff of pay-to-play should be avoided.

In my view this face-saving fund-raising activity should never be repeated. While the community’s support for the fire companies in the form of annual contributions should be encouraged, our supervisors’ job is to oversee the safety and proper maintenance of our township and to allocate our tax dollars accordingly. Over 500 residents signed a petition asking that the budget cuts to our fire companies be restored. I believe that given more time and awareness, an overwhelming number of Tredyffrin residents would have signed it. There’s no political divide on this issue. Safety comes first.

Going forward we need to establish a citizen group in Tredyffrin, made up of fire and township officials, community businesspeople and concerned residents to study and recommend a secure and adequate funding stream for our fire companies. The decision should never again be left up to seven supervisors, one of whom is running for higher office on a platform of no tax increases.

Kathleen Keohane, Malvern

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Supervisor Lamina's Explanation of the Fire Company Contribution

Supervisor Bob Lamina has a Letter to the Editor in this week’s Main Line Suburban Life.  The letter is signed by him and Supervisor Paul Olson, but without the signature of Supervisor Kampf. It certainly was clear to me from the December 21 Supervisor Meeting that Supervisor Kampf was the third member of the supervisor’s Fire Company Holiday Drive so it is curious to me why his name was not included on the Letter to the Editor.  If this truly was an orchestrated honest attempt to collect the needed funds for the fire departments (rather than something else) I would simply ask why not involve the fire companies in the process?  The fire departments were not informed of this Holiday Drive by Supervisors Lamina, Olson and Kampf nor are they aware of any process in place for the actual collection and only found out about the ‘contribution check’ at the Board of Supervisors Meeting. 

My understanding is that that there is confusion surrounding how the money will be collected . . . actually heard that it is being suggested that the fire companies themselves are to track down the funds. Please tell me that isn’t true!  I want to believe that information cannot be accurate . . . surely the principals who organized the drive (Supervisors Kampf, Lamina and Olson) have a system in place for the appropriate collection of the funds. (which does not include the volunteer firefighters doing the collection)

Just for the record, I reached out to Supervisors Lamina, Olson and Kampf for further explanation of the Holiday Drive process and to date, my emails have gone unanswered.  I would propose that there is a responsibility of our elected officials to respond to resident’s inquiries.

I will leave it to the readers for further comment, here’s Supervisor Lamina’s letter.

Board did firefighters’ funding right

To the Editor:

As participants in the Tredyffrin budget discussions of the last several weeks, we read with interest your article entitled “Funds for Fire Companies Are Restored.” While it is true the fire companies will receive the additional funding they desired in 2010, we believe a better title would have been “Tredyffrin Community Steps Forward.”

Township tax funds were not utilized to restore the funding because funding for every township-related service was reduced and no one from any of those departments – including the fire companies – ever stated they could not provide for the public’s safety without more. With the public safety intact, and in light of the challenging economy, the budget developed by the township manager with Board of Supervisors and significant community input is balanced and contains no real-estate property-tax increase in 2010. In our view therefore, one of the top stories this year is indeed the generosity of our community and a local government that in very challenging economic times made the difficult but correct decision to tighten our belts rather than first reaching out to our taxpayers to foot the bill.

With all that said, Tredyffrin’s community members – including members of the Board of Supervisors – worked hard to ensure that the fire companies received the $21,000 they desired. Among them, we note that John “C.T.” Alexander, chairman of the Republican Committee in Tredyffrin, informed the public during the township meeting last Monday that he and his committee members came forward with a $5,000 matching-fund pledge to help raise money for the fire companies. We also understand these are to be funds from individual members and not from any political-action committee. We very much appreciate this far-reaching level of charitable giving and are also hopeful that in the spirit of bipartisanship, the members of the Tredyffrin Democratic Committee may likewise choose to contribute.

Finally words cannot begin to express our gratitude to all those who stepped forward with generosity in difficult times, and to all of the individuals, businesses and organizations who gave so charitably in this effort. In any case we know the fire companies are pleased by these efforts because their presidents, Messrs. Tilden, Beatty and Roderick, each publicly expressed their gratitude for the funds raised. It proves that by working together as a community we can continue to keep Tredyffrin the great place it is.

Sincerely,

Robert W. Lamina, Paul Olson

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Fire Department Reports Major Safety Victory for Tredyffrin Township

You may recall during the recent campaign cycle, that fellow Supervisor Candidate Eamon Brazunas often spoke of the fire department’s safety issues and the proposed change to the building code that would require the installation of sprinkler systems in new construction.  I am pleased to report that this change has been adopted at the state level, and Eamon sent the following information and link to the press release. This new sprinkler system requirement will help to keep our residents safe and also our firefighters! We look forward to the township’s addition and enforcement of this new building code requirement.  Thank you for sharing this updated information Eamon.

I wanted to make you aware that the 2009 International Residential Building Code (IRC) has been adopted at the state level. This adoption of the IRC updates the PA Uniform Construction Code that Tredyffrin Township currently follows.

The new updates include residential fire sprinklers for all newly constructed townhouses effective Jan. 1, 2010 and for all newly constructed one and two family homes effective Jan. 1, 2011. The inclusion of residential fire sprinklers by the International Code Council (ICC) is a response to the growing fire problem, civilian injury/fatality rate, and the firefighter injury/fatality rate throughout the U.S.

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Township Meeting Tonight . . . Will There be More Budget Discussion?

Tonight is a Board of Supervisor Meeting, 7:30 PM at the Township Building.  Although the agenda does not include further budget discussion, citizens are certainly welcome to bring up budget comments/concerns under ‘New Matters’.  The 2010 budget will be voted on at the December 21 Board of Supervisor Meeting, so I suggest that if you have strong opinions you need to be there tonight to offer your comments.  If you recall, the draft budget passed at the November 30 meeting without any changes.  There is still time for budget discussion, but the clock is ticking!

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