By Joe Plasko, jplaskotnonline.com
The Times News, © 2006

August 24, 2006, Tamaqua

In 2003 nine residences in the Owl Creek section of Tamaqua had water tests done on their wells, and a councilman would like to see the testing performed again.

Mahlon Kachelries, who resides in Owl Creek, suggested the additional testing at Tuesday evening’s Tamaqua Council work session.

The borough has been besieged with environmental issues, ranging from the dumping of fly ash in mine reclamation projects such as the Springdale Pit, concerns over a rare cancer cluster of polycythemia vera along Still Creek Road, near a reservoir and the McAdoo Associates Superfund site, and the regulation of biosolids (chemically treated sewage sludge).

Owl Creek is located near a Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection demonstration project where over 50,000 cubic yards of river dredge material from the Philadelphia area was used to fill a stripping pit on the south side of Mount Pisgah. The Delaware River Port Authority was involved in the project.

Kachelries said the nine Owl Creek residences haven’t been tested for water quality since April 30, 2003, and the results varied, although he did not go into specifics.

“I would like to have them retested, and we have money in the account for it,” he noted. “The Carbon County Groundwater Guardians from Palmerton could do some of the work.”

Councilwoman Cathy Miorelli suggested Bob Gadinski, who did water testing for the Tamaqua Area Water Authority at the Still Creek Reservoir through Pottsville Laboratories.

Dr. Dante Picciano of the Army For a Clean Environment (ACE), a Tamaqua area-based grassroots environmental watchdog group, said that Wilkes University has a first class water testing facility and should be considered for the task.

“They charge $300 but if they go through the Carbon County Groundwater Guardians it’s $275,” said Picciano. “They do four different types of testing. The test for 16 heavy metals, a number of semi-volatiles, 300 volatiles, herbicides, pesticides. It’s an impressive number of tests for one price.”

Council will consider the request on the agenda for its Sept. 5 meeting.

Steigerwalt also mentioned there has been some brown and yellow discolored water discovered in the borough, due to iron in the water and resulting from the flushing of hydrants and two water main breaks.

In other business, Kachelries said a second skate park has sprung up at the basketball court on Union and Clark Streets on Dutch Hill, and the residents in that area have complained about it.

“We looked and there were a dozen kids up there, some of them wearing helmets,” said Kachelries. “They had a big ramp up there and were making noise.

“We have enough problems with one skate park (the other is at Willing Park), we don’t need two,” he added.

Mayor Christian Morrison noted the ramp was well fabricated and not makeshift.

The playground is on a property the borough leases from Lehigh Coal and Navigation Company. “If they get hurt, we are liable,” said Kachelries.

“It’s okay for bikes, but I don’t like to see the ramp in there,” said Morrison.

“We can haul it away and take it to our (borough) garage,” said Borough Manager Kevin Steigerwalt.

Councilwoman Ann Simard complained about damage to equipment at the Willing Skate and Bike Park. She said it has been reported to the police.

Simard said the damage is being caused by children who don’t even regularly use the park.

“There’s also a big problem with trash there,” said Steigerwalt. “Jim Fulmer and Access Servies are down there four times a week cleaning up.”

Code enforcement

Miorelli discussed code enforcement reporting. She said other municipalities have Web sites with ways to log code complaints.

Miorelli had sample complaint forms and passed them to council. “We don’t have complaint forms per se,” said Steigerwalt, who added he would like to see the information in a spread sheet form, especially for property inspections.

“I could do without the day to day reports, which don’t benefit any of us,” said Steigerwalt.

“Doing an Excel report that’s property-based shouldn’t be that difficult,” said Gursky.

Steigerwalt will look to develop a code enforcement report form that will allow incidents to be documented without compromising the anonymity of the person who filed the complaint. Items to be listed will include rental properties, inspections and dates.