Summer Board of Supervisors Meetings are traditionally sparsely attended and last night’s meeting was no exception. In fact, Chairman Bob Lamina was absent and Vice Chairman Paul Olson presided.
From my standpoint, there were 3 noteworthy discussion topics from last night’s supervisors meeting. The first I mention for selfish reasons . . . I am a member of the township’s HARB (Historic Architectural Review Board) and each year we select a residential and non-residential property in the township to honor for historic preservation. The HARB award for residential historic preservation was awarded to Margie and John Sacharok, owners of Upper Stream Farm in Berwyn. This beautiful circa 1760 home was featured on last year’s 5th Annual Historic House Tour and has been wonderfully restored. The award for non-residential historic preservation was awarded to Montessori Children’s House of Valley Forge. Montessori Children’s House created a partnership with Valley Forge National Historical Park and the school’s new home is in the southern corner of the park on Thomas Road. Restoring a historic house and barn for the nonprofit school was a unique pairing and one of the few partnerships in a national park in the country. I gave a brief historic overview of each property and showed a PowerPoint presentation featuring the before and after journey of the new home of the Montessori school in Valley Forge park.
The second item of interest from the supervisors meeting had to do with the 2011 township budget. During the liaison reports, Phil Donahue updated on the Finance Committee. Supervisors Donahue, Paul Olson and John DiBuonaventuro sit on the Finance Committee along with the township finance director and township manager. In his committee update, Donohue suggested public meetings in September and October to discuss the revenues and expenses in the 2011 township budget. This type discussion would be useful prior to the formal township budget process in November. I applaud Donahue’s suggestion, however there was very little further discussion from the other supervisors. So I’m guessing the discussion of the planned public finance meetings now moves to the August Board of Supervisors meeting. I have a feeling there may be more to the 2011 budget discussion than we saw last night!
The third topic from last night and the one that generated the most discussion was in regards to the township building’s failing HVAC system. Public Works Director Steve Norcini asked the Board of Supervisors for an additional $111K (not contained in 2010 budget) to perform needed HVAC retrofitting. If I understand the discussion correctly, the 2010 budget contained $85K for the necessary work but an early estimate has determined that the total cost of retrofitting the HVAC is significantly higher than in the budget — approximately $193K (thus requiring the extra $111K).
There were many questions from Supervisors DiBuonaventuro, Kichline and Donahue concerning the HVAC issue including (1) why would the prospective HVAC contractors know the estimated cost of the project in advance of their bid, (2) why was the project estimate so substantially lower in the 2010 budget than the actual estimated cost; (3) why did the project require a complete retrofit rather than repair; (4) why were the 2 rooftop units installed 2 years ago if the controls and ducts were known to be failing, etc., etc.
Initially Olson made a motion and Kampf seconded to move the HVAC project move forward to bid, however after further discussion from the board and citizens, a new motion was made to table the discussion until the August Board of Supervisors meeting, allowing for further investigation. This topic must have been discussed for at least 30 minutes and afterward there remained many more questions than answers. It seems so curious to me that the HVAC retrofitting estimate in the 2010 budget would be less than half the estimated ‘real’ cost to do the project.