Debate Continues On Akenac Renovations
by: Bessy Gurian
Pike County Dispatch – Thursday, June 2, 2016
DINGMANS FERRY-Once again, Akenac Park is a topic of disagreement. During the May 25 Delaware Township Board of Supervisors’ meeting, the public and supervisors disagreed on how renovation efforts are being carried out at Akenac Park.
Dawn Bukaj, a resident and active member of the community, questioned supervisors on what had been done between 2013 and today, since in 2013 the Board of Supervisors knew that the playground was at the end of its life.
“Back in 2013, the supervisors charged the then Events Board to find the money to do a new playground. They got the booklet of grants, they started the process and then this Board of Supervisors, without any discussion with the Events Board dissolved them at a Supervisor’s Meeting…So between 2013 and 2016 when the playground was taken down, what was done? In 2013, the Board of Supervisors knew that that playground was at the end of its life and needed to be replaced. What happened in that time span? Since the Events Board, who could’ve very well taken care of that, taken it off of everyone’s plate, brought it to you for approval, was dissolved and today?”
Supervisor Chairman Jeff Scheetz, responded that he was not present at the time, so he could not answer, to which Bukaj responded, that there was one supervisor that was there. Supervisor Tom Ryan replied, “My memory is shot, I can’t remember the whole story.”
Earlier in the meeting, Ryan had also commented on the lack of support they were receiving from parents. After Bukaj’s comments, a resident and parent responded that parents who took their kids to Akenac were not always available for township meetings. “They are not here for these meetings. They’re down there working. They’re only here, you know; on the weekend and the summertime…Let’s start something. Like you said, you had the boards up (in reference to boards the Supervisors had on display at a previous meeting depiction playground designs) and everyone thought it was a go, and now we’re just sitting here wondering what’s going on.”
Supervisors explained that they were waiting on an interactive DVD from a manufacturer so it could be available for residents to see playground designs.
There are also disagreements amongst the supervisors in terms of renovation efforts. When it came time to vote on a payment if $4,200 for a 400-amp overhead service, meter consolidation and connection to the distribution panel with new breakers and a reconnection of all sub-feeders, Supervisor John Henderson voted “no.” Henderson is also against some of the renovations taking place. He sat with the Dispatch immediately after the meeting to discuss his concerns. “Well, basically I’m opposed to a lot of ‘extraordinary’, I’ll use the word ‘extraordinary’ spending on the camp (Akenac). I think it’s a wonderful idea. I don’t think the camp should ever be closed. It started out as a rural recreational area and it was a wonderful idea, but it somehow got changed to…..one of the things in the documents, ‘to establish a restaurant .’ I’ve had people go through there and the restaurant equipment there is high class equipment. It’s wonderful equipment, but it’s above and beyond what I believe the township needs. We’re a rural area yet and we’re building the Taj Mahal in there, and that’s why I voted ‘no.’ We need to bring stuff down to a scale that’s appropriate for Delaware Township.
In the previous Board of Supervisors’ Meeting, Henderson had expressed concerns regarding Boucher & James’ construction plans, holding up a folder containing very few documents and asking the Supervisors to look into the matter.
“….I asked them (Boucher & James) for all the drawings that they had and those three plans were the only ones they produced for me (referring to the file he had shown at the previous meeting). And those plans raise a lot of questions. For instance, on one of the plans there is stairs, and if you look at the stairs, there is a beam right across the stairs. Nobody can use them. There’s no way those stairs are ever going to meet ADA of OSHA requirements.”
When questioned whether Boucher & James built those stairs, Henderson replied that one of the letters sent to him by the aforementioned firm state that the stairs were put in after they did their evaluation of the grounds and that he doesn’t know who put them in, but that they’re dangerous.
When asked what his recommendations to the township would be, he states, “I would remove those stairs, first of all, to eliminate the safety hazard. I would hire somebody who that knows, a professional that knows about kitchens, and get them in there to evaluate the kitchen. The one restaurateur that I had through there said the layout is bad, the whole situation is, as I say, so upscale for Delaware Township. It’s like we can afford a Chevy, but we just brought a Cadillac.”
Supervisor Scheetz had this to say with regards to Henderson’s comments, “What we are replacing as per the committee who looked at that, which I think Mr. Henderson was on it; it was a commercial kitchen…..those appliances were antiquated. They couldn’t be used anymore, so we had to buy new. We had to bring them up to code, all the safety standards, ‘cause that’s our primary issue. And, if there was a cheaper way to do it, I don’t know what it would’ve been. We have made that whole kitchen facility useable now for at least three seasons of the year, possibly even four. Originally it was designed for just the summers, when it was just the campers that stayed there….and we wanted to get a lot more use out of it, because it was costing a lot of money to do it.”
When asked about Mr. Henderson’s comments about taking a restaurateur through the facility, he answered, “Well, A: that’s one person’s opinion. We had our engineer, Boucher & James. They designed it and they approved it. Our building inspector approved it. I’m not going to say their opinions weren’t perfectly valid, of course they were. That’s what we’re paying them for, that’s what they’re certified to do. If we had any viable opinion that what was in there was unsafe, I certainly wouldn’t have approved it.
“And, again, I’m a layman when it comes to the equipment that’s in there, but it’s essentially the same equipment, the same kind of equipment that was in there previously, that stay unused, for I don’t know how many years.” It should also be noted that the other Supervisors had at least five large binders containing documentation on the Akenac project for the public to see.”
Among other things voted on at the meeting were, Resolution 2016-3 to participate in an online electricity auction with EMEX, Inc, to acquire better rates; Bid Awards in favor of Pocono Spray for $14,570.11 for ½ mile of Spencer Road, Wayco for $12,666.76 for a portion of Weber Road and the Child’s Park Road Culvert for $49, 700 to Leeward Construction.
If you would like to attend the Delaware Township Board of Supervisors meetings, they meet the second and fourth Wednesday of the month at the Delaware Township Municipal Meeting. The workshop begins at 5p.m. followed by the meeting at 6:30. The workshop is a place for discussion of various items concerning the community. For more information, contact the office at 570-828-2347 or check out their Website at www.delawaretownshippa.gov for meeting minutes and other documentation.