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Nazareth, Pa., United States

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Will Forks Trade Youth Sports For Old Farts' "Passive Recreation"?

Forks Township's brand new Chairman, David Billings, is in for a wild ride tonight. On his blog, Everything Forks, he quotes himself as saying, "It is hard to imagine a greater trust between a local official and the public, than the promise of open and honest government." But this transparency advocate is going to face a public tonight that is convinced he kept them in the dark.

On the surface is a new ordinance that abolishes the all-volunteer Recreation Board in favor of a paid Parks Director. And if you dig just a little bit, you'll see a growing concern that youth sports will be sacrificed for the "passive recreation" and amphitheaters enjoyed by old farts. According to Palmer-Forks Patch, the fireworks will start at the township building, 6:30 PM.

Of course, Forks has never played these Bethlehem hot dogs, except in basketball, and things got ugly fast. The final score was something like 4,683 to 0. I thought I overheard one Supervisor claim at the time that he'd rather see those kids doing ballet in an amphitheater. Maybe that's for the best.

But I digress. At Forks Township Residents Page, resident Kelli Steele Wilson lays out the details, from her point of view. Here are some excerpts, slightly edited.

"The Board of Supervisors (BOS) are 5 elected officials that are voted in for a 6 year term. The BOS distributes township tax money to the Recreation Board to fund townshp recreation. The Recreation Board (Rec Board) is appointed by the Supervisor's and consists of 7 residents as members. The 7 members meet once a month to manage the funds and township recreation as needed. The Rec Board distibutes funds to the FTAA in order to fund the 9 youth sports currently offered in our township as well as any other recreational requirements other than youth sports.

"The current situation is that the Supervisor's want to 'eliminate' the Rec Board and manage the funds themselves. The Supervisors would like to implement an arduous process for the FTAA to acquire the funds required to run the current youth programs. They have also indicated that there is not enough money spent on passive recreation and seem to hold the Rec Board accountable for this. Passive Recreation can only be manged by those who want to manage it. The Rec Board is not responsible to manage passive recreation, those who want it should manage it much like the FTAA manages the youth sports.

"The Rec Board has been accused of not 'operating under an ordinance.' COMPLETELY FALSE. There is an existing ordinance, was written in 1960, and the Rec Board was in compliance. The Supervisors were still not happy and had a "New Ordinance" written, one to their liking. It appears that there is something more to this however the Supervisor's have not been 'up front' as to why they are carrying on with this 'witch hunt.' As a township resident I think the Supervisors have enough on there plate to concern themselves with other than this. The fear is that the Supervisor's will lower the budgets for youth sports and the required funds needed will have to be absorbed by the taxpayer and or the parent.

Here are a few facts that you need to be aware of:

"Approx $30 of your sign-up fee for youth sports is kept by the town. Approx 1200-1500 athletes play youth sports annually in Forks Township.

"The FTAA pays the town $15,000.00 annually for 'use of the facilities,' which includes field use and Community Center use.

"In one year the town can receive as much as $60,000.00 per year from the FTAA.

"The FTAA helps supplement each sports budget that may be short changed with budget cuts by hosting monthly youth dances, snack bar operations and registration fees.

"The Supervisors have used Recreation funds to purchase two homes on Zucksville Road and to refurbish one of them for an office for our new Recreation Director. The other home I have no idea what the plan is for that.

"The Supervisors have spent hundreds of thousands of dollars on architectural drawings for an Amphitheater that may not even be built.

"Tot lots have been built without proper consent or budget approval.

"A census was taken on what the township residents wanted to see our town add and the number 1 item was a pool, the Supervisors said 'Never going happen.' Why? Why go thru the expense of putting out a survey to the township if you have no plans on listening to what the public wants?

"There are many things that are unorthodox that are currently going on in the township, this is not only about Youth Sports.

"Some thoughts to ponder: Why allow all the building of homes in the township? Four bedroom homes bring families, not retirees requiring 'passive recreation', families with children, children that grow and need organized outlets to help keep them busy and out of trouble..."


Anonymous said...

This is easy.

Passive recreation is cheap. That is, if you don't desire an over-engineered, over-budget amphitheater.

Active recreation is not.

The Township is looking to save a buck and obtain control of a revenue source.

Anonymous said...

"I overheard one Supervisor claim at the time that he'd rather see those kids doing ballet in an amphitheater."

Now that's funny,

Anonymous said...

Forks is starting to look and sound like the Upper Mount Bethel Township of old.