HARVEYS LAKE — What was the rush to join Wyoming Valley Sanitary Authority’s stormwater management plan, Diane Dwyer asked borough council Tuesday.
Dwyer’s malcontent was reiterated by six other residents about Harveys Lake Borough 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 the borough’s 2020 deadline.
“Since the MS4 doesn’t expire until 2020, why was there such a rush to join them?” Dwyer, a borough resident, asked.
MS4 is a stormwater management 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 Dallas Area Municipal Authority are developing action plans to offer to area municipalities for a fee.
“WVSA is a regional organization; we like to keep things at the lake,” Dwyer said. “We did the same thing with the planning commission. The planning commission was with Luzerne County in Wilkes-Barre. When I was on council, we actually decided to put it at the lake. We took it out of Luzerne County who didn’t really give a damn about us.”
“I don’t like that we will be billed $60 for services already received by Princeton Hydro, EAC (the borough’s Environmental Advisory Council) and DEP (Department of Environmental Protection),” she said.
Borough Council vice chairman 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 with nearly 40 attending residents, all 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 with 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 council’s 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 out “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.”
The next meeting of the Harveys Lake Borough Council is scheduled for 7:30 p.m. May 15 in the municipal building.
Reach Eileen Godin at 570-991-6387 or on Twitter @TLNews.