All right, we admit this blog has been a disappointment to us. We had hoped to keep it up weekly as a place to tell the news and ask opinions. But as websites develop, they find their own rhythm. Most of what we have to say is carried in our "Township News" section, and especially timely notices are in the "spotlight" section on the home page. Right now you'll find information on the new park improvements (lots of them), road repaving, traffic slowingv --not to mention Spring Cleanup and Give & Take. So please take a look at all the posts. It's the best way to keep informed--short of coming in to the Township and saying hello.
Brian, Lee, Robert --your Supervisors.
As our new Township website was designed to be an evolving source of information, we have just added descriptions of all the parks in the Township, as well as a section on the archaelogical pre-history of our area. Both are valuable aditions and we look foward to adding more text and photos over the next few months. The wonderful quality few realize about websites is they are like living things: constantly changing and adapting. We want ours to grow to reflect our concerns and needs. We would love some voluteers to take on specific parts of it, mainly in the "Smithfield Life" section.
In the Board of Supervisors session Aug. 23, the supervisors unanimously agreed to small revisions in the proposed new ordinance limiting short-term rentals in residential zones. The changes will help clairfy the limits of this new ordinance prohibits rentals of less than 31 days duration in RC, R-1, and R-2 zones, but does not impose the same limits in other zones such as commercial or industrial. It is anticipated that the revised ordinance will be submitted and passed within 30 days. This ordinance addresses a gathering problem in the Township caused by abusive tenants in rentals often refereed to as "party houses." The ease of Internet search and reservations has expanded the number of these rentals.
The line painting trucks will be out July 26 painting new double yellow lines on River Road and Franklin Hill Road. Please obey directions not to cross these lines while still wet. The lines will look a lot better on the road than on your tires. Of course the big problem is getting people not to cross the double yellow line when they are dry. A popular folk myth in Pennsylvania says that it is okay to cross a double yelllow line if you hae assured yourself the road is clear ahead. But the PA Driver's Manual is quite clear: "A double, solid yellow centerline shows the center of a two- way road. Even if it is not marked with a NO PASSING sign, passing by traffic traveling in either direction is not allowed on roads marked in this manner."
Today PennDot went after our weeds along Hollow Road. With no notification to the Township, two trucks appeared about 9:30 AM and started spraying the roadsides with a yet-to-be identified chemical. Since its purpose is to control weeds, it is probably something like Roundup. The spraying was along Shawnee Lake, a contributing source of undergournd water for many of our drinking water wells. We've made calls to PennDot, and Rosemary Brown's office is also trying to trace down the chemicals used. As Smithfield resident and famous musician/composer Tim Carbone said, "Can they just trim instead of taking the easy route of killing vegetation with poison? It turns the roadside brown. It's ugly, damaging and dangerous. We should have the right to say we don't want our township poisoned."
As of today, the new Smithfield Township website is live. Take a look and please let us know your comments. Every website is a work-in-progress from the day it goes live until the day it is replaced. We will always be working on improvements to give you more information in a logcial, easy-to-use format. On the new website you also sign up for text alerts and email alerts of everything from meeting changes to road conditions. So go to smithfieldtownship.com and take a look. We have also installed a new, super-fast wi-fi system in the Township Muicipal building. If you attend any of the public meetings there is a special "smithfield guest" network that will probably be faster than your wi-fi sytem at home. Next project: replacing the township computers. We've had a wonderful offer from the Henry Ford museum in Dearborn, Michigan to take our old computers for an exhibit about early 20th Century technology (not really).
July has thrown a wet blanket on June. The rain we prayed for last month has been delivered with pounding thunderstorms in the last week. Heat and humidy on muggy nights brings out the fireflies. You can stand in the dark and watch tiny sparks cruise slowly abou the garden. They are the talisman of water. Water is our greatest natural resouce. No matter how much of each torrent washes down into the Delaware, Smithfiled is blessed with an undergound aquifier that is bountiful. Rain from the plateau fills our creeks and settles into our fields. Much of it percolates into the layers of shale and slate that hold it for the backyard well-driller to find. Even through the dry months, water is there underground in abundace. We want to work to keep it that way by protecting our creeks and streams and floodplains. They are the resource we can not live without and the key to not only our source of water but its purity.
Shawnee Mountain presented its annual fireworks display on July 3, so the 4th was a relatively quiet time for backyard barbecues, trimming hedges, trips to the market and solitary contemplation. One exception was the Shawnee on Delaware block party held on Minisink Avenue. All were welcome--as long as you brought your own chair and a side dish. Juggernaut String Band gave us a good beat to eat by while tapping our toes. We need more of these neighborhood socials during the summer months to introduce ourselves and remember each other. Community is the good will no realtor can sell and only neighbors can create.
The weather has been wonderful, the 4th of July is almost upon us. Need a break from visiting relatives, barbecues, children? Take a walk in Minisink Park. Behind the soccer fields on River Road is a gavel trail, easily accessible by stroller, that leads along the forested shores of Brodhead Creek and Cherry Creek. Except for the muted sound of traffic on nearby I-80 you will think you have discovered some primordial hidden delta with flowing water and dense vegetaton -- all leading to the islands that mark outflow into the Delaware River. A half-hour or an hour here can clear the soul.
You can walk the fresh bulldozer tracks in Lake Valhalla or Smithfield Village. Commercial timbering has come to the Township. This is the work of one operator who is meticulous in following the rules. His goal is to cart away the hardwood that is very valuable. He’s operating on private property, and has secured all the necessary permits. The landowners can make a quick profit on a crop they neither planted nor worked. Our rocky landscape doesn’t have much topsoil. The oldest growth trees have 200 to 300 years. Even the second growth is more than 100. It’s a shame that something that has weathered so many Pocono winters can vanish in a morning.