Emmaus buys Rodale; throws the citizen and children under the bus, literally.

Tuesday, May 19th, 2015

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By now you have heard the news that Emmaus Council by a vote of 6 to 1 will proceed to purchase the former Rodale Inc. facility located exactly at the railroad crossing on Klines Lane and Minor St.. This same facility now houses the 7 Generations Elementary school and buses elementary grade children to this very facility.

The six members of the Emmaus Council that voted Yes: Chairwoman Lee Ann Gilbert, Vice chair Brian Holtzhafer, Brent Labenberg, Wesley Barrett, Roy Anders and Nathan Brown.  The deals proposed cost ~$3million to just purchase and with all the modifications to move all emergency facilities, Fire, Ambulance and police, could add another ~$3 million for a total of ~$6 million. All this because the council members want to move into new offices and would prefer to build new instead of maintaining existing facilities which, according to councils own data would cost less than $1,000,000.00! Which would you want $1 million to maintain or $6 million to build new offices for the council members?

This facility presently the 7 Generation Charter School as a tenant with the part of the 7 Generation charter school directly across Minor St. We’ll be talking about these and other major concerns to the safety of the children and citizens, in times of emergency and need, in future editions.

This meeting was labeled a special meeting and was sort of announced at the regularly scheduled council meeting held on 1/5/2015. I say sort of because if you had gone to the meeting as an interested citizen and thought that you would actually find out what the special meeting was about, you would have been mistaken.

“We conducted a press release and scheduled a meeting immediately after the holidays.”

So Council contacts the press immediately after the holidays to let the press know, but didn’t even tell the public that attended the Council meetings specifically to find out what the Borough Council is up to. What kind of open and transparent council do we have?

Almost as an afterthought and literally within the last minute of the meeting councilman Labenberg asks Chairwoman Gilbert if the special meeting will be announced, check out how it happened:

After all the giggling, Mr. Labenberg made the “sort of” announcement. Check out the video to see what I mean by saying “Sort of”:

And after that bland announcement watch who was told, days before, what the meeting would be about; hint it wasn’t the interested public in attendance.

One would think, if this present council was open and transparent and truly had the Emmaus citizen in mind they could have asked the Borough Manager to immediately place his Power Point slide Presentation of this topic up on the Borough website and use the Borough’s phone messaging service to alert all Emmaus citizens of this major news.

That way the Emmaus citizens could have had at least a good week, more had they done it when they alerted the press immediately after the holidays, to understand and formulate questions to present during the special meeting. Better yet and heaven forbid, the public could have even contacted and asked questions of the Borough officers, manager or council during the week before.

Maybe, the majority of council didn’t really even want to announce there was going to be a special meeting. As Chairwoman Gilbert said she had nothing further to add and only because, at the last minute, Councilman Labenberg asked her to make the announcement, that actually she didn’t make, so Mr. Labenberg took it upon himself to, as I said “sort of” announce it. If he had only gone that little bit more and mentioned what the topic would be, sigh.

Listen to what Borough Manager Pepe said about the process for the council vote.

Then see how Council Chairwoman put that process to work.

The presentation lasted about one hour during which the public had to concentrate, listen, absorb, understand, process and on a topic that will cost the taxpayer millions of dollars, was given one hour to ask questions.

Seems that the process Emmaus Borough Manager Pepe gave for how the council will vote wasen’t followed too well

So as to put an end to public input dictator and chief  Chairwoman Gilbert shut down a citizen when he wanted to have a second round of questions on this critically important topic ending all public input.

Why does this present council operate in such disregard for the citizens that elected them?

What would it have hurt and why didn’t council tell all those in attendance what the special meeting topic was about?

What do you think of Council members that plot and plan this for months and then give the public one hour to ask questions? Do you think they want public input at all? Do you think they know what they are doing?

We would like to know how you feel about the idea of the Emmaus Borough council voting to move all the public services; ambulance, fire, police and last but least town hall functions and relocate them into the former Rodale Inc. facility. The facility with its only entry and exit point right next to the railroad crossing on Klines Lane. Please write us and we will post your responses.

Stay tuned as we’ll have ongoing reporting on this topic. Any questions or thoughts please send us an e-mail