Stormwater complaints dominate Laubach-Franko meeting
The unveiling of the William H. Laubach Park and Franko Farms Recreation Area Master Plan turned into a forum about stormwater runoff complaints in eastern Salisbury Township.
More than 50 people packed the meeting room of the township municipal building, including an estimated 35 residents, most of whom live in the vicinity of Laubach Park; nine Laubach Park Master Site Plan Committee members and one moderator.
Following the PowerPoint presentation, which took about 45 minutes, the bulk of the questions and concerns during the one and one-half hour meeting revolved around what residents say are exisiting runoff problems, especially along Brook Avenue, a north-south street along the east side of Laubach Park.
Leonard J. Policelli, landscape architect, project manager, of Urban Research & Development Corp., Bethlehem, consultant for the Laubach Park Master Plan, assisted by Joanne H. Conley, landscape architect, assistant project manager, URDC, made the presentation at the 6:30 p.m. April 18 meeting and responded to residents’ questions.
“We shifted some resources from one to the other and tried to make both places better,” Policelli said of Laubach and Franko.
The 14.25-acre Laubach Park, accessible from Fairview Avenue and located between East Susquehanna Street and East Emmaus Avenue, is not far from the intersection with Broadway and Seidersville Road.
As outlined in the presentation, Laubach Park priority actions are:
•Protect and improve water quality at Trout Creek and pond by restoring 50-foot buffers, creating wetland to pond and not direct discharges to creek.
•Improve active facilities, condition, size, over-used turf, flooded dugouts and playgrounds by relocating playground, relocating one ball field and football field and relocating tennis court.
•Provide Americans With Disabilities Act access to facilities and walking paths.
•Manage stormwater using best management practices.
As outlined in the presentation, Franko Farm priority actions are:
•Retain passive elements, including community gardens, walking paths, woods and steep slopes and pond and pavilions.
•Provide ADA access to facilities.
•Additional 90-foot ball field, tennis courts, disc golf, multi-purpose area, nature playground, additional walking loops and invasive plant removal.
•Work with PPL to restore easement and allow access to portions of property for visitors.
Residents had few questions about the master plan, but rather complained about stormwater runoff problems in the Laubach Park area.
Here is a sampling of comments:
“When it rains, we have water pouring through the park.”
“It’s a river.”
“We have water that pours down Brook Avenue.”
“The pond overflows now and goes across my entire yard.”
“The pond is stagnant. It stinks in the summer. And it’s not being taken care of.”
“I understand you’re here for the two parks, but we have water issues.”
Township Commissioner Debra Brinton, who is an east side resident and was active in Salisbury Youth Association, which uses Laubach, said, “I didn’t know there was an overflow problem with the pond.
“Part of what we’re doing is to mitigate some of the problems,” Brinton said, adding, “I’ve lived here for 36 years and Laubach was never improved.”
Said Policelli, “Our goal is to reduce the amount of water coming off the park. We can improve the stream bank and try to prevent more erosion.
“Stormwater control would rank high in the DEP’s eyes because we’re solving problems,” Policelli said.
Township Commissioner Vice President and Master Plan Committee member Robert Martucci Jr., who lives along Lehigh Avenue, which borders Laubach Park’s north side, said, “I have sheet flow that comes through my yard.”
One man claimed a “paper alley,” or a planned street never completed, is along the east side of the park and residents must maintain it.
Policelli said the committee would look into the paper alley claim.
One man complained about tree-cutting for PPL utilities lines improvement in and around Laubach.
Attendees were asked to fill out a three-page public meeting survey about Laubach and Franko. Responses are expected to be included in an updated master plan report.
“We’ll have multiple meetings with the committee to fine tune it and then have a meeting at the end,” Policelli said.
Laubach and Franko Master Plan committee meetings resume in May. The next Laubach and Franko Master Plan public meeting is expected to be held in several months.
The township recreation commission and URDC are expected to present the Laubach Park Master Plan to the township board of commissioners. After that, the commissioners would decide how to proceed with the plan and how to fund the improvements to the park.
The timeline for Laubach and Franko is to apply for a grant in spring 2017 for improvements with contracts awarded at the end of 2017.
“The first time you’re going to see contruction is in 2019,” Policelli said.
Policelli and Conley made the Sept. 17, 2012, master plan presentation for Lindberg Park, where several of the 11 phases have been completed or are underway.
DCNR approved a $26,700 Community Conservation Partnership Program Grant for the Laubach Park Master Plan and Recreation Connections Project. The grant is matched by the township for the $55,400 project.
“DCNR is happy with the township and the way it has proceeded,” Policelli said, adding, “The parks were around for a long time and they were tired.”
Lindberg Park improvments, which are part of the Lindberg Master Plan, have been and are funded by a combination of DCNR, Lehigh County, township and nonprofit funding.
A tour of the Laubach Park was held July 20, 2015, by some 20 members of the Laubach Park Master Site Plan Committee, which has been holding meetings nearly every month since then.