Schwenksville Planners Propose Authority Management ‘Review’

The Borough Authority grounds on Main Street (at top), as seen in a Post file photo

SCHWENKSVILLE PA – A proposal to have Borough Council “review the Schwenksville Borough Authority’s management processes” and consider “long-term management solutions” was unanimously approved Thursday night (Aug. 6, 2020) by the borough Planning Commission.

Specifically, commissioners spent a substantial portion of their meeting considering how the Borough Authority might be transformed over time into a regional entity. None of that discussion, however, was incorporated into their recommendation to the council.

Under a regional concept, commissioners suggested the authority might morph into a broader-reaching agency with board growth from five to seven members to include representation for beyond-borough-lines customers. They mentioned the possibilities of representatives from Lower Frederick and Perkiomen townships, or members-at-large.

Properties in Lower Frederick and Perkiomen are the authority’s largest bases of customers outside the borough, commissioners said.

The authority is responsible for governing the municipality’s water and sewer services. The commission is responsible for advising Borough Council on subdivision and land development activities, zoning matters, and applications for appeals to the Zoning Hearing Board. The authority and commission work hand-in-hand when residential or commercial development expands within Schwenksville’s limits.

The commission-proposed reviews and how they might proceed, if at all, were not discussed in depth Thursday. Commissioners Harding (H. Gilbert) Williams, Gary Schneider and Darren Rash all supported the idea. Member Jim Caprio was not present and did not vote, and one seat on the commission remains vacant.

The reviews also are recommendations only. Borough Council may receive, but is not obligated to accept or act upon, any commission proposal. Rash currently serves as council president; Williams is a former president. The council is next scheduled to meet Thursday (Aug. 13) at 7 p.m.

Commissioners’ discussion of the authority follows just days after Tropical Storm Isaias swept through southeastern Pennsylvania, dumping several inches of rain. Based on measurements from an observation point in Graterford, the National Weather Service said Perkiomen Creek rose to 19.14 feet Tuesday (Aug. 4) by around 8 p.m, almost a foot higher than the previous record of 85 years ago.

At one point during the resultant flooding, Schneider reported, “the water level reached the roof of the pavilion” in Meadow Park. “We’re the disaster du jour,” Williams agreed.

The authority’s treatment plant took major hits during the storm, according to Rash. It endured three overflows, he said, that “inundated the pump.” Electric motors and pumps were damaged and will be expensive to repair or replace, Rash claimed, and although the authority is covered by insurance in such instances its deductible amounts to $50,000, he added.

Borough Council has yet to be given a full report on the extent of the damage, Rash said. “All of this is going to get looked at” more thoroughly, he noted.

Also Thursday, commissioners:

  • Reviewed an extensive list of definitions proposed for the revision of the borough’s Subdivision and Land Development Ordinance, and accepted additions or changes made by the county Planning Commission, represented at the meeting by community planner Aaron Holly. Commissioners also suggested additional changes, on which Holly took notes.
  • Briefly reviewed and commented on new tourism promotional material being created for the borough by the county.

Photo by The Post