June 30, 2020 Special Council Meeting Minutes

PRESENT VIA ZOOM – President Bollendorf, Vice President Stockton, Councilwoman Anzinger, Councilwoman Benjamin, Councilwoman McMenamin, Councilwoman Reichner, Councilwoman Ostrander, Mayor Guenst, Manager Hegele, Assistant Secretary DeRenzis, Chief Gardner, Superintendent Sine, and Solicitor Geiser were present.

CALL TO ORDER – President Bollendorf called the June 30, 2020 Special Council/Public Meeting to order at 7:00 P.M.

INVOCATION – Mayor Guenst gave the invocation.

PLEDGE OF ALLEGIANCE – The Pledge of Allegiance was led by Chief Gardner.

PUBLIC COMMENT – President Bollendorf reviewed the Public Comment Policy on the back of the agenda with regards to addressing Council and time allotment.

ORDER OF BUSINESS – President Bollendorf stated that since it is July 4th is this Saturday, he wanted Chief Gardner to go over rules regarding fireworks.

Chief Gardner stated that in 2017 the PA Legislature made changes to the Pennsylvania Fireworks Law concerning consumer grade fireworks. He also stated that there has been an increase in the use of fireworks throughout the region and he attributes that to their broad availability and that even though they are legal, they are still highly regulated and stated the following:

  • Fireworks cannot be ignited or discharged on public or private property without the expressed permission of the property owner.
  • Fireworks cannot be discharged form or within a motor vehicle or a building nor can they be discharged towards a motor vehicle or building.
  •  Fireworks cannot be discharged within 150 feet of an occupied structure whether a person is present or not.
  • Fireworks cannot be discharged if a person is under the influence of alcohol, a controlled substance, or another drug.
  • Local ordinances may be in effect as well that regulate their use and the times they may be set off.

Chief Gardner stated that it is very limited in Hatboro where you can set of fireworks if anywhere that would be legal and they are not legal to be set off in any of our parks and the school district does not want them set off on their property either. He asked that if people are going to use them, to make sure that they are doing so legally.

President Bollendorf stated that he wanted to remind everyone that even though we are in the green phase, everyone needs to remember to social distance from each other and continue wearing their mask when it is recommended.

He also stated that this meeting is being held due to the technical issues at the June 22, 2020 Committee/Council Meeting. He also stated that it was technology and not that Council didn’t want anyone to seethe meeting as they have been extremely transparent. He stated that people wanted to be heard and he feels they should be heard and therefore is the reason for this meeting.

He also stated he wanted to review a few things regarding the pool plan in the event the Pool opens for the 2020 season.

If we are to open in the green phase, the Pool Plan would be as follows:

  • We would be at 116 people which is 75% capacity of the pool.
  • We would have odd and even days which mean if you bought your membership on an even day, you would be only allowed to enter the pool on even days and the same if you purchased your membership on an odd day.
  • Seniors would be allowed in the pool an hour before it opens therefore from 11:00 A.M to 12:00 P.M.
  • There will be no minors allowed in the pool without an adult or guardian with them.
  • Staff will be screened for symptoms of COVID-19 as well as taking their temperature.
  • Patrons will wear a face covering when entering and exiting the facility.
  • Social distancing markers will be placed outside and inside the facility.
  • Front desk staff will maintain and coordinate occupancy numbers in the facility.
  • The sliding board will not be open.
  • Everyone will have to bring their own furniture.
  • No pool toys are allowed.
  • Locker rooms are closed to the public with bathrooms and showers remaining open.
  • We would be cleaning with CDC guidelines.
  • No concession stand.
  • The pool would be disinfected and maintained from 5:00 P.M until 8:00 P.M.
  • No large gatherings or summer camps.
  • Lifeguards will be trained on the CDC guidelines.
  • Any violations would be reported, and you would lose your membership.

President Bollendorf stated that Council received a recommendation from the Borough’s insurance company, and they did not recommend that minors work at the pool and that the parents would have to sign a waiver. He stated that because of that, we would be losing any staff under eighteen and that will create staff issues. He stated that they are going to listen to everyone’s public comment but to be aware that “all of the cards are now on the table” and everyone knows what we are dealing with.

Councilwoman Ostrander stated that her concerns are the safety of our employees and so far we have been able to protect our Police Department, Public Works Department, and staff at Borough Hall and she thinks it is very important that if we open the pool we protect the staff and she does not know if that is possible right now and that is why she voted not to open the pool.

Councilwoman Benjamin stated that she is a Biologist by training, and she thinks that there are still a lot of unknowns about COVID-19 such as long-term effects and care. She also stated that even though the chlorine could help with spreading, her concern is when people come up out of the water. She also stated that there would be a lot of young children at the pool and while they are not considered most vulnerable, they are very bad at social distancing. She also stated that she does not feel the pool is the best environment for practicing social distancing. She also stated that her concern is our staff and she does not want to put staff in a potentially risky position where there could be any confrontations and that is why she voted not to open the pool.

Ed McCash,44 E. Montgomery Avenue, stated that he did not understand how everyone has concern for safety regarding the pool, but the parks are open and Little League has resumed playing this year. He also stated he was confused by a few things from the last meeting. He stated that during last meeting, Councilwoman Anzinger mentioned that the pool thing was political, and it raised a red flag with him and wondered if she could elaborate on that. Councilwoman Anzinger stated that she was not referring to local but higher bodies of government where it feels like we have had a lot of different protocols come out in a very short period of time and some of those protocols, in her personal opinion, were conservative but were working. She also stated that if she is not seeing the data to back up an action, it feels political to her. Mr. McCash stated that in eastern Montgomery County there has not been a spike and Councilwoman Anzinger stated that in the past two weeks, there has been an increase and cases are up about 35%. Mr. McCash also stated that he was concerned there was an internal issue with Council. President Bollendorf stated that there was not an issue but the plan was not fully released to everyone and that they are restricted by Sunshine laws which means Council cannot talk amongst themselves in a group of more than three or it would be considered a meeting and that is why Council has committees to facilitate these discussions. Mr. McCash asked if staff would be able to comply with guidelines as far as administering CPR on a COVID- 19 patient. Chief Gardner stated that if the pool opens, staff will be trained and would follow guidelines as far as CPR and a possible patient with COVID.

Carl Merset,233 Central Avenue, stated that he was upset about the vote last week to close the pool because he did not see the plan that was put in place to be explained to Council and he feels Council did not have all the knowledge before they voted. He also stated that he was concerned because he walked by the park and the kids were playing basketball and not following any guidelines such as wearing a mask or social distancing. He stated he felt the decision was made with Council not having all the information.

Jen Jaynes, 237 Jacksonville Road, stated that she was unaware of what the meeting was about because it was her first time entering a meeting but was for the pool opening when she found out the purpose of the meeting.

Ryan Goelz,308 W. Moreland Avenue, stated that she feels if the pool is closed then why are the parks open since there is no supervision there. She stated that yesterday at Eaton Park, there was about 25 kids with bikes piled up on top of each other and the kids were playing basketball with no masks and not socially distanced. President Bollendorf stated that as far as parks it is an open space and not as confined as the pool and that the parks decision will be discussed again. Councilwoman Anzinger stated that she has concerns with the playground equipment as well. President Bollendorf asked Superintendent Sine to put some signs up in the parks to remind everyone of social distancing. Superintendent Sine stated that CDC signs were already posted in the parks.

Melinda Walker,121 Fairview Avenue, stated that she feels that PA was one of the three stated responsible for flattening the cure because people took responsibility and she is hopeful that Hatboro can continue that trend. She also stated that she shares Councilwoman Anzinger’s concerns but at the same time she is looking at the long-term effects (mentally, physically, and socially) for many of the kids because they are quarantined. She stated that she felt the pool plan covered all the required guidelines and while she understands everyone’s apprehension, she thinks the pool should open.

Ann Menichelli,176 W. Lehman Avenue, stated that she is concerned with the basketball courts as well. She also stated that if no one follows the guidelines then it should be closed again but we should not assume no one will follow the rules as it does not give residents enough credit. She stated that she feels there is a way to make this happen as far as opening the pool for the season.

Vice President Stockton received a comment on Facebook asking how we would enact social distancing at the pool if it were to open and he said that the Borough Engineer would make sure the square footage is correct and it will be taped off and separated that way.

President Bollendorf asked Manager Hegele to read the following emails which were received regarding the Hatboro Memorial Pool:

  • Diane Battis,320 W Moreland Avenue, I’d like to thank the group who took the time to outline the COVID safety procedures. It is very thorough. It is also similar to what a local gym is doing. The committee has followed all the CDC guidelines. Other area pools are opening. I would feel very comfortable attending the Hatboro pool in 2020. I urge Council to approve the matter. Our parks are opening and Little League. We are being urged to go outside, and exercise is key to our good health. Swimming at the Hatboro pool will assist with that and give the children of Hatboro, under the supervision of an adult, the opportunity to have something to do that is constructive and good for them and allow them to see their friends at a safe distance.
  • Andrea Holster, 56 N. Penn Street, Good evening members of the council, I would like to thank you for taking the time to revisit the decision to open the pool and allowing residents of the community to expresses their concerns. In reviewing the COVID-19 plan, guideline for safety and protocol, I can tell you I am quite comfortable in allowing my family members to join the pool this summer. As a resident, I am very impressed with the amount of thought and consideration taken by this committee in the development of their plan. I want to thank the Borough for asking this plan available for all residents to view on their website. Being able to familiarize myself with the stringent guidelines and protocols certainly puts me at ease knowing that everyone’s safety is a top priority. I am aware of some of the council members “personal” opposing opinions on this matter, as they were expressed at the last council meeting. Currently, I am requesting those members with opposing viewpoints take the time to familiarize themselves with the proposal and refrain from making any biased judgments in the determination of their decisions. As a resident, I feel the municipality should base their decision to from the governor’s recommendations for phased reopening, not their personal beliefs or agenda. In past presentations, I have heard Mr. Bollendorf comment that Hatboro is committed to following the guidance of the governor’s reopening plan, when making these decisions. According to the phased reopening plan established by Governor Wolf and his administration, “pools are allowed to open provided they follow CDC guidelines for aquatic venues.” In viewing the comprehensive plan to reopen the Hatboro Memorial Pool, I feel confident that the committee has met this requirement by submitting a safe and comprehensive plan to ensure the safety of its patrons and community members. This leaves me to question as to why members of the council rejected the proposal, when other activities with less restrictive guidelines and CDC practices were permitted. On a personal note, I feel that members of the council made premature, biased, and ill-informed assumptions on how practices and procedures will be instituted for safe social distancing and sanitary purposes. Presenting “nightmare scenarios” and making biased speculations, shows the inability to make an informed non-biased decision based on established governing policies at the state level. One could easily create, “nightmare scenarios” and apply them towards any situation. Voting unanimously (7-0) to reopen parks, playgrounds, courts and athletic fields without any guidelines or parameters other than CDC signage, shows a huge disparity. As a resident, it appears as if the council is stating “come at your own risk”. There will not be workers sanitizing playground equipment or monitoring (or enforcing) social distancing practices. Allowing businesses such as camps and yoga studios t operate on town municipal property (and making a profit) is a concern. The borough nor businesses are not being held accountable in ensuring the safety of participants. Failure to monitor these activities appropriately, can easily contribute to the associated risk factors. However, these activities were approved by council, without scrutiny. Because the pool restricts membership, daily usage of patrons (odd/even days), and does not allow outside guests, I feel this is a very controllable situation and can be easily monitored. With this protocol in place, the pool can account for attendance of patrons (specifically). What is the borough’s plan to monitor usage and attendance in parks? One can speculate, the chain of events that could transpire if a non-symptomatic positive carrier transmits this virus through an un-monitored game of basketball. There is also the risk of school aged children congregating on non-sanitized playground equipment and not adhering to safe social distancing practices. During last week’s meeting, it was not specified if facility use is restricted to players and coaches only. Please note, I am aware of recent development of the governor’s recommendations for PIAA interscholastic sports and recreational sports. The proactive safety provisions established by the committee to reopen the pools are very manageable and feasible. Requiring all patrons to wear a face covering upon entering and exiting the facility, the use of multiple sanitizing stations strategically located throughout the facility, closing access to the slide, prohibiting use of toys and floats and requiring patrons to bring their own chairs are just a few of procedures and practices. I also noticed that the pool will not be opening their concession stand as an additional measure. Does the little league plan to operate their concession stand this season? As you can tell, I am passionate on this issue for many reasons. After 4 months of children being removed from classrooms, refraining from organized recreational activities and venues, children are in desperate need of safe avenues to resume healthy physical activities. At the discretion and guidance of our governor, outdoor dining and consumption of alcohol was permitted within the borough. This adoption provided adults with an opportunity to practice social distancing in a “safe” manner. Recently, in the news other governments have pulled back on regulations for indoor dining and ordering bar not to serve alcohol on site for consumption. I have personally viewed unsafe practices and lack of social distances in establishments within the borough. I find it interesting how some members of the community can oppose the proposal to open the pool yet have no objection and take the necessary steps to ensure this lack of social distancing practices are deterred. One can only imagine the challenges and implications that our community will face with the car show in August. Unfortunately, children have paid the price for too long. Missed graduations, class trips, promotion ceremonies, summer camps, the list goes on. These kids need some form of normalcy and structure. By opening the pool under these guidelines, the borough is providing families with safe recreational option. I truly hope the council will examine these factors when they take in consideration of opening the pool.
  • Ryan Goelz, 308 W. Moreland Avenue, I just wanted to thank Mayor Guenst as well as all the board members for revisiting the pool opening considering the issues last week. I think my biggest question/concern is that all other parks in community are open so why not pool? Seeing as the pool would have a waiver and b-ball courts and parks would not and cannot safely ensure people are following guidelines. Many kids at b-ball courts and parks last few days, none with adults or masks. I understand your thoughts but seems to me it should be all open or none open. With regards to the waiver Elle mentioned last week, I think the waiver isn’t stating that safety can’t be ensured but it is stating that you will follow the rules/guidelines set forth & make people personally responsible for following the rules. It releases the Borough from claims made and allows membership termination if rules are not followed. Thank you.
  • Kyle Walter, 22 N New Street, Hello. Please open the pool for the community. If little league is open the pool should be open.
  • Ashleigh Walter, 22 N. New Street, Hello-I would like the pool to open this year. I think everyone should be wearing masks. I think it will be good for the kids to have something open. Some sort of return to normal. We will be spaced out adequately on the lawn area. Thank you for your time.

2020 HATBORO MEMORIAL POOL – No motion was made. The Hatboro Memorial Pool will remain closed for the 2020 season.

President Bollendorf stated that the reason for the vote was due to the staffing issue if the pool were to open and that Council had to listen to their insurance company regarding the opening.

RESOLUTION 2020-37: UPPER MORELAND HATBORO MASTER TRAIL PLAN ADOPTION – Councilwoman Reichner made a motion to approve resolution 2020-37, adopting the Upper Moreland Hatboro Master Train Plan. Motion was seconded by Councilwoman Anzinger, all ayes. Motion carried 7-0.

ADJOURNMENT – Councilwoman Reichner made a motion to adjourn the June 30, 2020 Special Council Meeting at 8:11 P.M. Motion was seconded by Vice President Stockton, all ayes. Motion carried 7-0. President Bollendorf adjourned the June 30, 2020 Special Council/Public Meeting at 8:11 P.M.

Respectfully Submitted by
Cynthia Bollendorf
Transcribed by Cynthia Bollendorf