HARVEYS LAKE — What was the rush to join Wyoming Valley Sanitary Authority’s stormwater management plan, Diane Dwyer asked borough council Tuesday.
Dwyer and other borough residents came to raise concerns about council’s March decision to enter into a stormwater management contract with WVSA despite a reported advisory by the municipal engineer not to do anything until six months before a 2020 deadline.
“Since the MS4 doesn’t expire until 2020. Why was there such a rush to join them?” Dwyer asked.
MS4 is a stormwater management plan mandated by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency that requires all municipalities to reduce the amount of sediment deposited into the Susquehanna River and other waterways that feed into the Chesapeake Bay. The state Department of Environmental Protection requires towns to submit stormwater permit plans showing how they will reduce sediment.
WVSA and the Dallas Area Municipal Authority are developing action plans to offer local municipalities for a fee.
“WVSA is a regional organization. We like to keep things at the lake,” Dwyer said. “I don’t like that we will be billed $60 for a service already received by Princeton Hydro, EAC (the borough’s Environmental Advisory Council) and DEP.”
Council vice president Daniel F. Blaine offered to talk with Dwyer “one-to-one” after the meeting. But she pushed for him to discuss it at the meeting attended by nearly 40 residents who were looking for answers.
“That has been discussed, and we will move on,” Blaine said in response.
Resident Jack Davies asked Mayor Carole Samson why she broke the 3-3 tie vote in March to sign with WVSA.
“The way I see it we just turned $100,000 over to WVSA,” Davies said. “Carole, why did we make that vote happen? Why did we rush it?”
“Because I thought we were being short-sighted on the future coming up and it might cost us twice as much money down the road to get in as it does now,” Samson answered.
Last month, council members Blaine, Clarence Hogan and Chad Flack supported the motion to enter into a contract with WVSA. Council members Michell’e Boice, Thomas Kehler and Ed Kelly voted against it. Samson cast the deciding vote.
Davies asked Blaine if he had any friends at WVSA and if he would benefit from the borough signing with the agency.
Blaine admitted he is friends with Phil Latinski, who is on the WVSA board, but denied any benefit from the decision.
“Do we have an environmental council?” Davies asked.
“Yes, we do,” Blaine answered.
“Did we consult with them?” Davies asked.
“We have had meetings,” Blaine started to answer when interrupted by audience members yelling “that’s a lie.”
“There is a letter right here that said you did not contact them and they are very upset about it,” Davies said. “I’ll pass the letter around for everyone to read it. You guys are so sneaky it is unbelievable.”
Boice read a letter from John Levitsky, the chairman of EAC, which stated, “The vote by the borough council to accept WVSA as the MS4 manager for Harveys Lake Borough has caught EAC off guard. EAC was not made aware that this proposal was being discussed and now find the vote was completed Tuesday night (March 20).”
Levitsky’s letter also stated EAC is a “constituted municipal board” that advises the borough council on environmental issues and policies. EAC helped guide the lake through many environmental challenges such as the “extensive algae blooms and unswimmable waters in the 1980s to the clean waters in 2018 that DEP and the federal EPA use as an example.”
Reach Eileen Godin at 570-991-6387 or on Twitter @TLNews.