Springfield Township commissioners plan for sustainable future

by Betsy Wallace
Posted 10/21/20

At their Workshop and Business meetings this month, the Springfield Township Commissioners received presentations on the progress of its Ready for 100 Plan and its efforts to improve community-police …

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Springfield Township commissioners plan for sustainable future

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At their Workshop and Business meetings this month, the Springfield Township Commissioners received presentations on the progress of its Ready for 100 Plan and its efforts to improve community-police relations and transparency with the community, approved the Historic Commission By-Laws and awarded a contract to make ADA improvements at Chiaramonte Park.

The commissioners passed four resolutions authorizing grant applications for the following: (1) purchasing police body-worn cameras for one-half of the police force (the Township has already budgeted outfitting the other half of the police force with body worn cameras), (2) Constructing the Walnut Lane walkway/pedestrian trail in Oreland; (3) Creating an ADA accessible path in the Mermaid Park and Stream Habitat Project; and (4) procuring environmental liability insurance under the EPA Brownfields Grant Program to cover the demolition and remediation of buildings on the former Tank Car Corporation of America property. The commissioners also heard an update from the Township’s Opioid Action Committee. Here are the highlights.

Sustainable Springfield Ready for 100 Plan

Springfield Township, the first municipality in Montgomery County to sign on to the Sierra Club’s national Ready for 100 campaign in 2019, continues to move forward on its commitments to achieve 100% renewable electricity by 2035 and renewable heat and transportation by 2050, targeting municipal operations, residences, commercial properties, schools, and other institutions.

Joy Bergey, Vice President of the Township’s Environmental Advisory Commission (EAC) and point person for Sustainable Springfield Ready for 100, laid out the EAC’s plan for 2021, including developing an Energy Transition Plan. As Bergey said, “we’re all about the future.”

Bergey and Commissioner Peter Wilson are currently engaged in an intensive course on Energy Transition Planning, which will give the EAC the resources it needs to develop a plan tailored to Springfield Township, focusing first on municipal operations. Bergey expects the EAC will submit a draft Energy Transition Plan for the Commissioners’ review by March 2021.

In addition to creating an energy transition plan, Ready for 100 will examine options for procuring clean electricity for the township, explore dimming street-lights at midnight, recommend that the township audit its electricity bills, develop strategies to convert fleet to electric vehicles or plug-in hybrids, research geothermal for the school district, encourage the school district to do energy audits, and use a strategic model to compare costs and benefits.

Ready for 100 held a kickoff meeting for their newly established subcommittees on Thursday, Oct. 15, which attracted about a dozen talented, interested volunteers, including engineers with PhD's and professors. They seek more residents for their subcommittees and for help in developing a communications strategy to reach out to the community. All township residents who are interested in helping Sustainable Springfield Ready for 100 can contact Commissioner Peter Wilson at pwilson@springfieldmontco.org.

Springfield Township Police Community Relations

The newly formed township committee focusing on enhancing police relations with the community reported on its immediate plans at the Township’s Workshop meeting. Commissioners Graham and Lee are looking at reviving the Human Relations Commission that was formed about 10 years ago to address discrimination in accommodation and employment for LGBT people, but never met.

They want to expand the type of discrimination under the HRC’s jurisdiction to include police discriminatory enforcement based on race, ensuring the HRC’s independence, increasing the number of HRC Commission members, and mandating training for those sitting on the HRC. The PA Human Relations Commission is working with Graham and Lee on amending the original HRC ordinance.

At previous workshop meetings, the commissioners discussed developing an agreement between the Township and Cheltenham NAACP. Abington Township already has such an agreement in place. Commissioner Graham (who was just elected as President of the Cheltenham NAACP) said that the Abington agreement contained a few provisions that he and Commissioner Lee would want to look at more closely before they decide whether the Abington agreement would serve as a good model.

Springfield Opioid Action Committee

Barbara Senst, Township resident and Opioid Action Committee member, gave a brief report on the committee’s progress during the public comment period of the Business Meeting last week. According to the Committee, by July of this year, there were eighteen reported overdoses in Springfield Township alone, which is more than the total number of overdoses for the previous two years. The overdose rate is likely attributable to the stress of the pandemic and on the increasing availability of a new illegal synthetic opioid known as “iso” (Isotonitazene) that is causing rising numbers of opioid overdose deaths.

The committee’s Community Partner Program has placed Narcan in 18 local businesses.  The committee has found that local businesses are eager to help out in this effort.

Alternate member Vacancies - Police Civil Service Commission

The township is looking for residents to fill two alternate positions on Police Civil Service Commission. The purpose of the Police Civil Service Commission is to oversee the hiring and promotion process within the Springfield Township Police Department. Alternate members engage in discussion but cannot vote as a rule. Interested residents may apply with a letter or resume via email to the Township Manager, Michael Taylor, mtaylor@springfieldmontco.org

Save these dates!

October 24: National Drug Take Back Day at the Springfield Township Police Department. Residents can dispose of their OTC drugs at the Police Department. The Opioid Action Committee will be there collecting donated clothing for Prevention Point, a nonprofit medical clinic and needle exchange located in Kensington.

October 30 between 4-5:30 PM: The Hunt for Halloween for kids up to 8th grade. Activities will take place outside on the Municipal Campus. Look for more information on the township website in the coming week.

Township residents can request an audio recording of the Workshop Meeting by contacting Michael Taylor, Township Manager, by email: mtaylor@springfieldmontco.org. Residents may view the Recorded Business meetings and check all Public Meeting Agendas and Minutes here: https://www.springfieldmontco.org/government/meeting-agendas-minutes/.

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