Borough Newsletter – Winter 2004
Jump to: Mayors Column, Served With Distinction, Newly Elected Officials, Why Code Enforcement?, New Bulk Pick-Up Program, Trash Pick-Up Tips, Lansdowne Symphony News, Christmas Tree Pickup, 2004 Borough Council Committees, Borough Information Meeting Dates
This month’s Mayor’s Column was supposed to be about my experience at FireSchool with our Volunteer Fire Department.But then our council voted to make some bigchanges in the Sanitation and Codesdepartments. Now this edition of ourLansdowne Newsletter is dedicated to thosechanges. Instead of reading about fire attackand suppression and the methods employed forsearch and rescue, you will all be treated to adescription of bulk trash and an explanation ofrental inspections.
Please take the time to read the whole newsletter. It may be boring, dry anduninspiring. Nothing like the thrilling tale ofentering a burning building with only a hose toguide you through the dark, smoke filledrooms.
So what that I don’t have space todescribe in detail the immense heat build up ina burning building and the effect heat has onthe visor of a firefighter’s helmet? I’m sorry Ican’t report on the "Cadet Program"whichrecruits future firefighters ages 14-16. Youwill simply have to stop by the fire houseyourself on Tuesday and Thursday evenings.
The fact is that trash and codes are a veryimportant part of our community. The staff inthese departments are working really hard.They are professional and care about yourBorough as much as you do.
If after reading this newsletter you havequestions about codes or trash, please feel freeto contact the Borough office. Maybe nextnewsletter I can share how difficult it is towear 35 pounds of turnout gear while movingthrough suffocating……
The Mayor, Lansdowne Borough Council, familyand friends said goodbye and thank you to out going councilmen Tony Campuzano, JimKlingler and Dick Burke at the December 17th Borough meeting. Collectively these men havegiven 31 years of distinguished, volunteer service toLansdowne.
Congratulations to the following newly electedofficials in Lansdowne:
Linda WalkerBarbara Silzle
William Penn School Board:
HERE is a description of all council committes.
There’s a lot going on in Lansdowne Borough’s Codes Department. The staff has grown from one code enforcement officer to twowith plans to add a third. Lansdowne and Yeadon have entered into a joint arrangement to share resources and services. In spring 2003 Borough Council adopted an aggressive new ordinance requiring a yearly inspection of rental units.
The question many are asking is why all this activity? What is the purpose? Is the Borough simply intruding in matters better left alone? Who are these code enforcement officers and what are they trying to do? The answers to these questions are not so simple. In reality, code enforcement officers serve the community in a number of ways.
Getting the Job Done Right
How many times have we heard about a neighbor who had work done, often costing thousands of dollars, on his/her home only to find the work was substandard? Chances are a permit was never issued for the work and it was never inspected by a code enforcement officer.
The code enforcement officer is here to protect you by ensuring that the work you pay for is done according to national building and safety standards. Most jobs in Lansdowne require a permit. Before the job starts, you or your contractor should come to Borough Hall and complete a permit application. The application should describe the work to be done. There is a fee associated with the permit to cover the Borough’s costs to review the application and inspect the project. After reviewing the permit application, the code enforcement officer may have some questions, in which case he will contact your contractor or you, if you are doing the work yourself.
The important thing is to get any issues raised by the code enforcement officer addressed before the work starts so that the project can be completed with little or no delay. Once the application is approved, a permit will be issued by the Borough and the work may begin. Depending on the complexity of the work, the code enforcement officer may inspect the project one or more times to ensure that you or your contractor is doing the work properly.
You should always hire a contrac- tor that is registered to do work in Lansdowne. This ensures three things. As part of the registration process contractors are required to produce proof that they have general liability insurance in the event that substandard work results in damage to any structureequipment, sidewalk, utility line, or other objects. This liability insurance also covers potential injuries to the general public who might come in contact with the job site. The registration process also requires that the contractor produce proof of workers compensation insurance for his employees. This means that if the contractor’s employee gets hurt on the job, he has the proper insurance to cover the injured worker. Without these two insurances the employee, and anyone else with a damage claim, could sue the contractor – and you – for their injuries and damages. Finallychoosing a contractor registered to work in Lansdowne ensures that you are working with someone who meets a minimum standard. It doesn’t happen often, but there have been occasions when a contractor’s registration has been revoked because of shoddy work or dishonesty.
Getting the job done right means having a plan, getting a permithiring the right contractor, and making sure you involve the Borough code enforcement department. The department is there to protect you and make sure the project is completed successfully.
Much of Lansdowne’s charm comes from its impressive stock of older and historic homes. According to the Delaware Valley Regional Planning Commission, over 75% of the Borough’s housing stock was built prior to 1950. While most of these homes are clearly assetsothers, as they are neglected, are becoming liabilities. Homes and businesses that become derelict drag down the value of neighboring properties. Entire neighborhoods can be affected; and the quality of life of residents diminished.
Across eastern Delaware County there is a growing recognition that revitalizing inner ring communities like Lansdowne depends largely on our ability to protect and stabilize an aging stock of homes and other buildings. Delaware County recently sponsored a series of revitalization strategies focused on communities in the eastern and southern portions of the county. Lansdowne and five other municipalities were included in one of these "Renaissance Plans." A clear priority contained in this plan is the need to develop and enhance code enforcement activities. The Borough(tm)s recent efforts – hiring additional staff, joint code enforcement effort with Yeadon, and a rental inspection program – are consistent with the Renaissance Plan.
There are approximately 4,000 properties in the Borough; unfortunately some of these properties are deteriorating. In 2003 five Lansdowne homes were identified as being so seriously blighted that there was no alternative but demolition. A number of other buildings have been boarded pending repairs by the property owner. There are vacant properties located in neighborhoods throughout the Borough that deteriorate further every day.
Meeting these challenges requires an adequate number of professional staff. Until November of 2002Lansdowne had only one code enforcement officer. Recently we hired a second. In 2004, a third officer will be hired. This sounds like a big increase in staff; and it is, but not when you consider the demands placed on the code enforcement department. So far in 2003 the department has issued 1,121 permits; issued 475 citations for violations of Borough Code; performed 1,150 inspections; registered 443 contractors; secured 14 vacant structures; and performed 127 building inspections in response to complaints.
These figures don’t tell the whole story. Among other demands is the Borough’s ambitious annual rental inspection program. Started last spring, this program is Borough Council’s response to the relatively large number of rental properties in the Borough. According to the Delaware County Planning Department approximately 36% of the total number of dwelling units in the Borough are rentals.
While many units are owned by responsible landlords who take care of their properties, many others are deteriorating. Often these units are owned by disengaged landlords who have not invested the necessary funds to keep them in repair. The rental inspection program allows the Borough to enter each unit on an annual basis to ensure that they meet minimum safety standards. Through the program the Borough has already discovered properties so deteriorated that the tenants were required to vacate the building for their own safety. In addition to posing a direct threat to the tenants, these properties diminish the value of surrounding homes; and their condition negatively impacts the entire neighborhood.
Protecting Lansdowne’s aging housing and building stock is a priority in the effort to preserve Lansdowne as a great place to live and work. Success in this endeavor will hinge on investing the necessary resources in a proactive and aggressive code enforcement program.
Code Enforcement Officer as Crime Fighter
A study in the early 1980′s suggests that there is a connection between the physical condition of neighborhoods and criminal activity. Called the "Broken Window Theory." researchers argued that decaying and deteriorated properties attract criminal activity. Neglected homes, vacant lots and abandoned buildings can become a magnet for criminal activity, inviting loiteringvandalism and other forms of anti-social behavior. Blighted properties, according to the theoryalso signal a general lack of care and concern, which by itself can increase criminal behavior.
If the theory is correct, it suggests that good code enforcement can be a cost-effective tool to assist police in reducing crime and improving the quality of life of residents. An aggressive response to high grasstrash, and abandoned and deterio- rated homes and buildings can complement and reinforce police activities. Moreover, it is far less expensive to pay, train and equip a code enforcement officer than a police officer.
Working withOther Communities Lansdowne is developing a code enforcement department that will be capable of playing an important role in protecting and improving the quality of life for residents. But because the Borough is in such close proximity to other municipalitieswhat Lansdowne does within its own borders will be of limited value if our neighbors across the Borough line aren’t equally vigilant. That is one reason why Lansdowne has entered into an arrangement with Yeadon Borough to share resources and work cooperatively on code enforcement issues. What happens in Yeadon effects Lansdowne and visa versa. If blight spreads through one community, it is only a matter of time before it begins to creep into the next town across the border. But if communities begin to work together on these issues everyone will benefit.
Lansdowne can save money as well. In 2004 the state is expected to initiate new regulations mandating that, over time, every code enforcement officer in the state be certified to perform inspections. The new regulations require over 20 different certifications. For smaller communities like Lansdowne, with relatively few staff, it will be virtually impossible to meet this requirement without hiring a significant number of new employees.
However, if neighboring communities share resources and staff, the burden of meeting this new mandate can be spread over a larger "pool" of code enforcement officers. Just another reason why Lansdowne and Yeadon are working together.
Ensuring that Lansdowne remains a great place to live and work requires an aggressive program to meet the challenges facing the community. It means maintaining an adequate number of police officers; working to attract new businesses and home owners; repairing and maintaining streets and sewers; and preserving and enhancing recreation and park programs. It also means having an effective code enforcement program that can protect residents’properties and preserve homes and neighborhoods. When residents ask why there is a new emphasis on code enforcement in Lansdowne Borough, this is the answer.
Starting in 2004 the Borough will no longer pick up bulk items during its traditional three-week program in the spring. Instead, a new program is being implemented that will allow residents to call Borough Hall for bulk item removal on an as needed basis rather than storing them for annual pick-up.
Over the years Lansdowne residents have been used to placing a variety of items along the curb each year. If you walked down any block during late April you would likely have seen piles of discarded items: furniture, lawn mowersrefrigerators, lumber and just plain trash. The program inspired people to clean out attics, basements, and garages. Old cans of paintcleaning fluids and other chemicals, and auto batteries made their way into bulk trash.
Many people appreciate the ease and convenience of this program. You can put it out and forget it. The problem is once the waste leaves the curb, it can’t all be simply taken to the dump. County and federal guidelines require more careful consideration of what items enter the municipal waste stream and where and how they are disposed of.
Refrigerators are a good example. These items contain freon, a gas that, when released into the environment, damages the earth’s ozone layer. For this reason freon has to be carefully removed from the refrigerator before the unit is recycled as scrap material or disposed of some other way. Items like car batteries, steel tire rimslawn mowers and steel cable can’t be included in the municipal waste stream.
These items typically go to salvage companies for proper disposal. While a limited number and kind of bulk items will be ac- cepted at Delaware County’s transfer station in Marple Township, many others will not including furniture, car tires, washers, dryers, and ranges. Construction materials cannot be included in the municipal waste stream including rock, cement, gravel, bricksheet rock and concrete. Household hazardous waste is also excluded. This category of waste is extensive and includes items like toilet bowl cleaner, nail polishmercury thermometers, oven cleaner, ammonia, furniture polishoil, antifreeze, gasoline, pool chemicals, varnish and weed killers. These items need to be disposed of through household hazardous waste drop offs that Delaware County sponsors periodically throughout the year. Clearly, managing municipal waste has become more complicated. The traditional method of picking up and hauling co-mingled items like the ones described above is no longer a viable option. The Borough has the responsibility to ensure that items in the waste stream are disposed of properly. The new bulk pick-up program will allow the Borough to better control what items enter the waste stream.
Here’s how the program will work. Residents will call Borough Hall to schedule a pick up. Borough staff members will help the caller identify which items are and are not acceptable for the bulk program.
The staff members will then schedule a pick up day for the resident’s bulk items. The number of items that can be picked up at any one time will be limited to twoso it will be important to make sure that items that are not appropriate for the bulk program (e.g., regular trash, household hazardous wasteconstruction materials, and so on) are not included. For most items this is a free service. However there will be a small charge to cover the cost of properly disposing of items containing freon. Details of the program are still being worked out. Residents will receive further guidance on the program during the first several months of 2004. In the meantimethe Borough encourages each resident to think about items once thrown out during the traditional bulk pick-up program. Were there some items that could have been disposed of through the regular weekly trash pick up? Were any items set out for bulk pick-up that were appropriate for the county-sponsored household hazardous waste drop-off program? Was there construction or demolition material that should have been hauled off by the contractor? This new bulk pick-up program will be a big change for Lansdowne. The Borough staff is committed to working with residents to make this transition as smooth as possible. If you have any questions, please contact the Borough Hall at 610-623-7300 ext 211. Once again, more information on the new program will be provided in the coming months.
Household Refuse Pick-Up.
Trash or refuse is picked up twice a week in Lansdowne. This category of waste includes refuse like food scraps, certain non-recyclable paper products like tissues, and miscellaneous metal, colored glass and plastic items. You can also throw out with your trash small appliances like coffee makersradios or blenders. In addition, small furniture items like end tables and stools can be disposed of as well. Large items like washers, dryerstables, sofas will not be taken as part of the regular household pick-up. These items will be picked up as part of the Borough’s new bulk pick-up program starting 2004 (see related article in this newsletter).
Household Hazardous Waste (HHW).
Did you know that some items you might be placing out with your trash are actually considered "Household Hazardous Waste,"or HHW? These items include pesticides, weed killers, oil-based paint, pool chemicals, varnishgasoline, antifreeze and oil. Even cell phonescomputers, printers, scanners and TV’s contain hazardous materials. When not disposed of properly, HHW can pollute the groundwatersurface water or air. Children, pets and Borough sanitation workers can become injured if they come in contact with certain HHW.
Here’s how you can recognize a household hazardous waste. Look for the following words on the product label: caution, toxic, dangerflammable, corrosive, poisonous, hazardouscombustible, reactive and explosive. If these words are on the label, chances are the product is hazardous waste.
Instead of throwing out any leftover HHW you might have with the trash, offer it to a friendneighbor or relative who might be able to use it. If you can’t share your excess materials, take it to a HHW collection event. Delaware County sponsors HHW drop-offs throughout the year.
The 2004 HHW collection dates are as follows.Drop off times are between 9am and 3pm:
|Saturday, Mar 27,||Marple Transfer Station, Broomall,|
|Saturday, Apr 24,||Chester Transfer Station, Chester Twp.,|
|Saturday, May 22*,||Emergency Services
Training Center, Darby
|Saturday, Jun 19,||American Ref-Fuel, City
|Friday, Sept 17*,||Rose Tree Park, Media,|
* Bring your computers, printers, scanners and portable TV’s to these events only. For more information about the above dates, directions, or just general recycling information, please visit the county’s website at www.co.delaware.pa.us/recycle/hhw.html. or call 610-892-9627.
Yard Waste and Branches.
You can dispose of yard waste and branches as part of the Borough’s regular weekly trash collection. Place the yard waste in bags and bundle the branches in 3-foot sections. Place both at your curb and they will be hauled away., Trash Don’ts!:Here’s a list of typical items that WILL NOT be picked up as part of the regular weekly trash service:
Don’t, put out construction materials like sheet rock, brick and concrete.Don’t put out large items like ranges, sofas, and mattresses.Don’t put out auto tires, auto batteries or auto parts.
Don’t put out household hazardous waste such paint thinners, solvents, and insecticides., For more information, please call the Lansdowne Borough Hall at 610-623-7300 ext. 211.
The Lansdowne Symphony Orchestra has been a feature on the local cultural scene since 1947 when it arose out of the Men’s Bible Class of the First Presbyterian Church. Over the years, it has grown in size and professionalism. Under the direction of Henri Elkan, who served for 25 years, renowned guest artistssuch as Susan Starr and Natalie Hinderasbecame part of the program. Elkan also introduced the Young Artists Concerts. Since 1957the Association has held auditions in the spring to select one or more young musicians (17 and under) who will perform with the Orchestra the following year.
In keeping with the Orchestra’s interest in introducing young people to the joys of classical music, the LSO secured a three-year grant from the Ethel Sergeant Clark Smith Memorial. This award enables the Orchestra to offer free concert tickets to students in Delaware County aged 10 and above. One free adult ticket is available for every five student tickets requested. Following Maestro Elkindpianist Jacques Voois was the orchestra Music Director for nearly a decade. He conducted the orchestra at Earth Day ceremonies at the United Nations Center in New York City in 1983.
Our current Conductor and Music Director is Irving Ludwig, who has held that position since 1991. A native of Philadelphia, Mr. Ludwig was for 30 years a violinist with the Philadelphia Orchestra.
The highway department will be shredding Christmas trees at Hoffman Park again this year. Residents are asked to place their trees at the curb between Wednesday January 7th and Friday January 9th. Please remove the tree stand and any plastic wrappingstinsel and ornaments.
Sidewalk Snow Removal
Please remember that ice and snow must be removed from the full width of your sidewalk within 24 hours of the end of the snowfall. Snow covered or icy sidewalks present a serious hazard to pedestrians. Clearing your walk can prevent injuries and is a really nice thing to do. Non – compliance with snow and ice removal regulations can result in a citation being issued. Don’t forget your elderly or infirmed neighbors. Shoveling someone else’s walk is a really kind gesture and always appreciated.
Under his professionalism and musicianship, the Orchestra has become the best community orchestra in the Delaware Valley. Two years ago, Mr. Ludwig introduced Handel’s Messiah into the schedule. This is performed with the Upper Darby High School Choir and professional soloists. For more information about the Orchestrathe Young Artists Concert or the concert season, phone the LSO office at 610-284-3719, or visit the orchestra website at www.lansdowneso.org. To secure student tickets, call the office or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Municipal Services, Chair: Laura Fryer – Members: Bill Smith & Jane Madden
This Committee is responsible for oversight of the Highway and Sanitation Departments, including the Borough recycling program. The committee will develop and implement annual road and sewer repair and improvement projects, and assure that periodic activities such as snow and leaf removal are executed in a timely fashion.
Public Safety,Chair: Ann Hill – Members: Laura Fryer & Bill Smith
This Committee is responsible, with the Mayor, for oversight of the Lansdowne Police and Volunteer Fire Departments. The Committee assures that the concerns of the police chief and the fire chief come to the attention of Council, and that the Council addresses public safety concerns. In addition the Chair acts as Council’s liaison to the Board of Health. The committee will coordinate activities regarding public safety with the Mayor.
Park and Recreation,Chair: Jane Madden – Members: Elliot Borgman & Ann Hill,This Committee is responsible for preserving and utilizing parks and other open spaces for the benefit of citizens of the Borough. The Committee overseas the parks and recreation program. The Chair is the Council’s liaison to the Recreation and Park Board.
Finance and Administration,Chair: Bill Smith – Members: Gene Wayne & Laura Fryer
This Committee is responsible for the annual budget for the Borough, and for approving all expenditures. It oversees Borough property and administration as it relates to the Borough personnel.
Community Development*(*formerly Zoning, Planning and Code Enforcement), Chair: Elliot Borgman – Members: Jane Madden & Gene Wayne
This Committee oversees property development in the Borough, building regulations, and administration of the zoning and vacant property ordinance. It also oversees activities of the Code Enforcement office and the Chair acts as Council’s liaison to the Planning Commission and the Zoning Hearing Board.
Economic Development Chair: Gene Wayne – Members: Elliot Borgman, Ann Hill
This Committee oversees commercial and industrial development in the Borough. The function of the committee is to assure that commercial and industrial activity is supported by the Council. The Chair acts as liaison to the business and professional associations in the Borough and reports on cultural affairs.
Monday, January 5, 2004 Borough Council Business Meeting 7:30pm
Wednesday, February 4, 2004 Borough Council Business Meeting 7:30pm
Wednesday, March 3, 2004 Borough Council Business Meeting 7:30pm
Wednesday, January 21, 2004 Borough Council General Meeting 7:30pm
Wednesday, February 18, 2004 Borough Council General Meeting 7:30pm
Wednesday, March 17, 2004 Borough Council General Meeting 7:30pm
Important Phone Numbers
Police Dept. – 610-623-0700
Borough Office – 610-623-7300
Overnight Parking – 610-623-7677
Tax Collector – 610-623-2357
Start saving your sale items now.
The Third Annual Garage Sale Day will be held in May 2004