Covert Ops

This article (below), posted to Triblive.com yesterday afternoon, accurately depicts the goings-on of yesterday morning with regard to these matters.

[We have provided a link to the published article and also present it in its entirety below.]

Ed Rebitch has on numerous occasions requested a round-table discussion among all parties - Delmont Borough, Salem Township, the PA DEP, State Representative Eric Nelson, and State Senator Kim Ward, together with representatives of Rock Springs Trust in Salem Township - to resolve issues attendant to Delmont Borough's intentional discharges of untreated human waste onto property owned by the Trust and into Beaver Run.

All of these parties met yesterday morning behind closed doors to the specific exclusion of the property owners - impacted stakeholders with a clear interest in the proceedings and first-hand knowledge about the impact of these activities upon the subject property and to Beaver Run.

Ed and the Trustee for Rock Springs Trust, having learned of yesterday's 10:00 a.m. meeting, presented themselves at Representative Nelson's Greensburg office where the meeting was to take place and requested permission to participate in, or at least to sit in on, the meeting in order to gain an understanding of developments relevant to these matters.

The property owners were denied a seat at the table.

Following the closed-door meeting, Representative Nelson did reach out to the property owners to convey that he would attempt to arrange a meeting among all parties inclusive of the property owners at a later date to discuss the specifics of the corrective action plan that has been proposed to the PA DEP by Delmont Borough. 

Our question for all parties involved:
If you are confident in your dealings and decisions with regard to these matters, why the secrecy?

Setting aside our personal interest in these proceedings and our desire and obligation to protect and preserve the property entrusted to us, Delmont Borough's stated intention to subsidize upgrades to its sewer system through the use of public funding and assessment of sewer rate increases by definition renders this a matter of public interest subject to public debate. 

Delmont Borough council's continued refusal to answer questions and concerns posed at its public meetings - and the covert meetings taking place behind closed doors among these several parties - circumvent the public's immutable right to know how matters affecting the health and safety of municipal water consumers, and how matters impacting the economic interests and environmental concerns of the community at large, are to be resolved.

State rep: DEP consent order for Delmont sewage issue 'is going to move forward'
| Wednesday, May 9, 2018, 4:25 p.m.
Above, two Delmont Borough manholes
spew a mix of storm water and untreated
sewage onto the Salem Township property
belonging to the Rock Springs Trust on
Feb. 26, 2018

State and local officials met behind closed doors Wednesday to discuss how to solve overflow and infiltration issues with their sewer system, which has been discharging both onto a Salem Township property and into a creek that feeds the Beaver Run Reservoir for more than two decades — to the disappointment of the resident of the land being befouled.
Part of that solution, read into the record at the borough council's April meeting, includes a new sewer interceptor, which collects and slows down large flows so they don't rush down the line all at once.
Ed Rebitch, whose family lives on the Rock Springs Trust property that has been on the receiving end of the sewage, does not believe a new interceptor is the right solution. He and his family have long contended that the borough's main problem is excess storm water infiltrating the sewer system and causing the sewer-line overflows.
Rebitch wanted to convey that information to the group that met Wednesday morning at State Rep. Eric Nelson's office. However, Rebitch said he was not permitted to participate in the closed-door meeting.
“I've had a number of discussions with Ed and been out to the farm to tour the ground,” Nelson said. “It's a very difficult situation.”
Nelson met Wednesday morning with officials from Delmont and Salem Township, staff from both his and State Sen. Kim Ward's office and officials from the Department of Environmental Protection but said the group “wasn't quite to the point yet where we were ready to sit down and sort of share ‘this is where we're at' with Ed.”
The meeting wasn't publicized or advertised; Rebitch said he found out about it secondhand.
Nelson said his goal is “to facilitate a common dialogue, to bring people together and, one, ensure that there is a plan to move forward that's in concert with the DEP's expectations and, two, meet the achievable improvements we want to attain.”
Nelson said he hopes to help secure state grant money that can be applied to the situation.
“There are programs that the state has for sewage and water grants,” he said. “One of the things I felt was important was having an action plan to move forward. ... If we have a good plan in place, that will help to possibly secure some state grants.”
Nelson said DEP officials attending the meeting did not give a specific date for issuing an order to Delmont outlining what they must do to mitigate the overflows, “but they did say it's going to move forward.”
“There's infrastructure, prevention and conservation elements all coming together to try and improve the situation,” Nelson said.
For his part, Rebitch continued to request a meeting with borough council members and the other groups involved.
“Walk that site and see what's going on,” he told council. “It's not just impacting us, it's impacting the watershed and the water quality.”
Delmont solicitor Dan Hewitt said council “at this point is waiting for the DEP to provide us with a dictate. That's the standing right now, and that's the only answer we can give.”
Rebitch said his family and the trust need a solution, and soon.
“Don't expect us to continue to subsidize your problem,” he said.

Patrick Varine is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach him at 724-850-2862, pvarine@tribweb.com or via Twitter @MurrysvilleStar. 

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