Salisbury Press

Monday, January 21, 2019
PRESS PHOTO BY PAUL WILLISTEINJohn Kelly Jr., Western Salisbury Volunteer Fire Company board of directors trustee, requests public funding for the Swain Fire Station be put to a vote on the November ballot at the April 26 meeting of the Salisbury Township Board of Commissioners. PRESS PHOTO BY PAUL WILLISTEINJohn Kelly Jr., Western Salisbury Volunteer Fire Company board of directors trustee, requests public funding for the Swain Fire Station be put to a vote on the November ballot at the April 26 meeting of the Salisbury Township Board of Commissioners.


Thursday, May 3, 2018 by PAUL WILLISTEIN in Local News

Ballot referendum requested on Western Salisbury funding

An official of Western Salisbury Volunteer Fire Company wants a referendum on township support for the company’s Swain Fire Station capital campaign to be placed on the November general election ballot.

Meanwhile, township commissioners voted unanimously 5 to 0 at the April 26 meeting to approve an emergency services review in the township.

John Kelly Jr., a trustee on the board of directors of Western Salisbury Volunteer Fire Company, made the ballot request at the Salisbury Township Board of Commissioners meeting April 26.

“We ask the township board of commissioners to work quickly to place this topic on the November election ballot to solicit input from the residents of Salisbury Township regarding the financial commitment to this project,” Kelly said during the meeting’s public comment portion.

It would not be the first time township residents have been asked to back a fire station project.

Continued Kelly, “In 1989, the Salisbury Township Board of Commissioners raised a ballot question to see if the township residents would support their tax dollars being used to build a fire station in Salisbury Township. The referendum passed by a two-thirds vote and a bond was floated to build the fire station.”

That bond funded construction of the Eastern Salisbury Volunteer Fire company station at East Emmaus Avenue and Honeysuckle Road.

“We feel confident that if you asked the residents of Salisbury Township the same question today there would be overwhelming support for our township volunteer firefighters and this building project,” Kelly said.

Township commissioners did not immediately respond to Kelly’s request for the ballot question on funding the Swain project.

The 2018 general primary election is Nov. 6.

However, township board of commissioners President Robert Martucci Jr. said the board would wait until the emergency services review is completed, expected by the end of the year, before committing to Western’s request for funding the Swain Station project.

At the April 12 township meeting, during the courtesy of the floor portion, Adam Al-Khal, Western Salisbury president and deputy fire chief, who also attended the April 26 township meeting, asked if the township is going to help fund Western’s “Campaign 60,” a $3 million capital campaign to fund expansion and renovation of the Swain Station, 950 S. Ott St.

Western officials seek $215,000 annually, or $1.5 million over seven years, from Salisbury Township toward the “Campaign 60” goal, a request made at the Aug. 24, 2017, township workshop by Western Salisbury Fire Chief Joshua G. Wells, who also attended the April 26 township meeting.

At the April 26 meeting, Kelly said to commissioners, “We are disappointed in the time it took you to respond. And we are disappointed in your collective decision to not support this project.”

In response to Kelly, who read from a prepared statement, Martucci said, “We didn’t at the time say we wouldn’t support it.

“We’re waiting for the survey to be done,” Martucci, added, emphasizing, “I don’t think we ever said we wouldn’t support it.”

In an email response to an inquiry after the meeting by The Press, Salisbury Township Manager Cathy Bonaskiewich wrote, “We never said that we wouldn’t financially support Western Salisbury Fire Department in their endeavor. We just haven’t fully vetted to what extent we can or what that level of financial support might be. It’s a much more complex issue than as presented, especially when $1.5 million is the starting point.”

At the April 12 meeting, Martucci said he would inform Western officials when township officials made a decision regarding the fire company’s funding request.

Western Salisbury, founded in 1959, has its 60th anniversary in 2019, hence the “Campaign 60” campaign name.

Kelly also said in his April 26 statement to commissioners, a copy of which was requested after the meeting by, and emailed to, The Press:

“For a brief update on our project, we have completed Phase I of the project in 2017, which included an upgrade to our utilities and HVAC system, a new parking lot to improve overall safety and a building modification to install a new garage door to expedite response time to medical emergencies.

“Regarding the fundraising for ‘Campaign 60,’ we have received early financial commitments from several individuals, families and businesses in Salisbury Township. This includes in-kind services to help plan and design the building expansion.

“Our next step will be to expand the capital campaign requesting multi-year commitments from all residents and businesses in our fire district.

“While we expect strong support to this campaign, we will reiterate that the full project will not be achievable without a major financial commitment from Salisbury Township.”

Township Commissioner Rodney Conn made the motion, seconded by Commissioner James Seagreaves, to bring a motion to a vote to accept the proposal received April 20 for an emergency services comprehensive review.

Under the approved proposal, the township will pay $45,000 to Duane Hagelgans Consulting, Lancaster, to do the emergency services review.

Four bids were received. The highest bid was $71,012.

According to a profile on the LinkedIn website, Hagelgans is an associate professor at Millersville University of Pennsylvania, Lancaster, where he has taught since 2007, and works in the Center for Disaster Research and Education, teaching emergency management in the undergraduate and graduate programs.

Hagelgans has been a fire commissioner for seven years with the Blue Rock Regional Fire District in the borough of Millersville.

For nine years, Hagelgans has been public information officer subcommittee planning specialist for The South Central Task Force, a regional preparedness organization of representatives from Adams, Cumberland, Dauphin, Franklin, Lancaster, Lebanon, Perry and York counties.

Hagelgans received a Bachelor of Science degree in occupational safety and hygiene management from Millersville University of Pennsylvania and a Juris Doctorate from Widener University School of Law.

“His whole team has a range of experience in emergency services,” Bonaskiewich said prior to the commissioners’ vote on the review.

Township resident Robert Agonis asked about the timetable for the review.

“It’s a multi-month process,” Bonaskiewich said. “They’re going to dive into it and do a lot of interviews.”

Bonaskiewich said interviews are to begin in May. The deadline for the review to be completed is January 2019.