Sunday, June 22, 2008

Kudos to Milford Township


If you are regular reader of this blog (yes, they exist), you know I am a big fan of open government.  We have been trying to find concrete examples of cities, townships, and borough's that practice open government.

Well, we have found another example of a township that has implement a new way of providing public access to township  information.  Milford Township Supervisors approved a proposal to have the township news broadcast on a local cable access channel. The broadcast will cover school closings, township news, municipal government news and announcements, and other items of interest ( see Morning Call article "Milford: Tune in for more information", June 18, 2008).

Supervisor Chairman Robert Mansfield said the supervisors have been searching for other ways to get township information to residents and the television would be another means in addition to its Web site, newspapers and township newsletter. ''It's just another venue for the public to find out what's going on,'' he said ( See Morning Call article "Milford: Tune in for more information", June 18, 2008).

I am hoping the concept of using cable access channels for distributing public information will spread to many other townships within NJ and PA. I can hope!


Get Involved! Every Voice Counts!


David Billings

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Gollub Park Eagle Scout Project

It is very cool, when the young adults of Forks Township get involved in improving our community. With so many things a young adult can do these days, I am proud to report that Sterling Pennington found the time and motivation to  complete a eagle scout project in one of our township parks.

Sterling completed a eagle scout project in Gollub park that will benefit our community for years to come. Congratulations Sterling!

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Joint Workshop on Neighborhood Recreation Parks

The Forks Township Board of Supervisors and Recreation Board will hold a Joint Workshop on Neighborhood Recreation Parks on Thursday, 6/19 @ 6PM. The workshop will be held at the Forks Township municipal center.

The neighborhood park proposal states the workshop will discuss ways to improve our neighborhood parks.  The neighborhood parks discussion will focus on the following objectives:
  - Recognize “Developments” as “Forks Neighborhoods”
  - Brings 2-12 year old recreation closer to home
  - Convenient and safer play environment for parental supervision
  - Less travel equals less traffic on Sullivan trail and family gas expense
  - Encourages use of neighborhood recreation paths
  - Reduces recreation stress on Community Center park facilities and parking areas
  - Creates Community Pride

According to the proposal, three new family neighborhood parks are proposed: two East of Sullivan
Trail and one on the west side. Each location is within a dense residential area that is comprised mostly of families. The bus stops at and near these three locations are very crowded.
   The Neighborhoods are as follows:
          - Penn’s Ridge-West
          - Vista Estates-East
          - Ramble Wood / Frost Hollow-East

Additionally, the discussion will focus on five existing neighborhood parks that serve the same Forks neighborhoods and
our senior residents. These parks are located throughout the township and are considered part of the neighborhood parks system. The existing neighborhood parks are as follows:
- Gollub Park – woodland park and trails (south)
- Winchester Nature Trail (east)
- Barden Air Park-family park with pavilion (west)
- Meco/Lafayette – central family park (east)
- Bushkill Springhouse (south)

These are very important discussions to improve our Quality of Life. The improvement of our neighborhood parks is a great start. Please attend the workshop and make your voice heard!




David Billings

Sunday, June 8, 2008

Open Government - What does it mean


Allot has been going on these days with various local governments. The Easton Area School Board is raising tax by more than 10%, issued a $36M dollar bond, and then EASD board refusal to renew the contract of the school district Human Resources Director. Williams Township has been in news about the expansion of their  landfill and being sued in court for Supervisor meetings that may violate provisions of the state Sunshine Act. Forks Township has had its share of issues ranging from the a 2008 tax increase to the public financing of the Fire tower.

In each of these situations, the public expressed grave concerns about the transparency of the decision making process and the availability of critical information to the public on how these decisions were made. The public expressed their concerns by speaking out at local government meetings, writing letters to the editor, or by taking their grievances to court.  It is hard to imagine a greater trust between a local official and the public, than the promise of open and honest government.  This trust is a bond that enables the public to maintain faith in it's public institutions. 


I understand it is hard to practice open government.  The process is time consuming and may lead to public disagreements. But this is the nature of the beast.


I believe in each of these situations the affected local governments could have avoided these situations by practicing open government. By being open with the public, by providing relevant information about the facts surrounding the decision, and taking the time to actually listen and understand the public input.  If the decision involved a specific person, then the privacy of that person needs to be honored, but the process used to make the decision needs to be shared with the public.

We need to remember that being a public official is not about meeting our needs, but meeting needs of the community. These are the people who have a placed a scared trust in us to make the best decisions possible.