Living in Hanover

Living in Hanover

'Apparently a blog about living in Hanover'

The Incredible Growing Agenda

In recent weeks, the national news spotlight has turned to Hanover because of the eagles out by Codorus State Park. I think we have something else that could make headlines – municipal agendas that seem to grow on their own.

Last week, a committee agenda was posted on the borough website with 11 items. The agenda available at the meeting has 20 items. Last night’s borough council agenda had seven items added since it was posted online Monday.

Now I know some of these things are inevitable – three of the items added to the council agenda were event requests that came in after the original agenda was printed. Those are examples of good stewardship. But what changed between Monday and Wednesday to add an agreement about potentially vacating the alley between the borough office and 34 Frederick Street and an agreement about LED traffic lights and about getting a recycling grant and, most importantly, about amending the sales agreement for the property next to the Tanger Building?

Yep, that situation once again comes up last minute – the original Tanger purchase was approved as a late-minute agenda item because “someone forgot” to add it to the agenda. And when these last-minute items come up, there is no explanation as to why they are late or what the items mean. Remember, once the public comment portion of the meeting ends at the beginning, the veil of secrecy is dropped and sharing information with the public doesn’t matter anymore.

Which reminds me, water rates are going up both in and out of the borough. How much? No one knows. Well, I guess Barb Krebs knows, but the agenda item is the standard Hanover Borough legalese with no mention of what the rate will actually be. God forbid you tell the people how much they will be spending. I guess the outside the borough rate is the one they asked the Public Utility Commission for, but that agenda item was so vague, it prompted one council member to ask, “what is this?” And if the borough manager isn’t being clear with the people voting on items, how can we expect her to actually share information with us lowly citizens.

Sure, I could have asked, but I didn’t feel like getting treated like a leper. Or getting kicked out for actually requesting information in the middle of a meeting.

I don’t expect nothing to change once the agenda is printed, but these shenanigans have to stop. If people had known that the future of the amusement tax was going to be discussed in committee last week, they may have come or shared their thoughts with members of council. Instead, the public agenda shows very tame items to discourage people from coming so that more meaty topics can be added at the last minute. I’ve seen this movie in Hanover before. It’s getting old.

The borough website should be a living, breathing entity. It is possible to change a PDF once you post it. It is possible to list agenda items as they are added and put some sort of notification that allows people to see the new information. It is OK to have an ongoing dialogue with residents.

Because if you don’t keep people updated regularly, it certainly looks like you’re trying to pull the wool over our eyes. Especially when you do it again and again and again and again and again.

Brian March 26, 2015 2 Comments Permalink

Money Well Spent?

This Saturday, Hanover Fellowship Church will have a 5K to raise money for New Hope Ministries. They applied for permits from Hanover Borough last year and were given permission in December to hold the race, providing they pay the $500 “special events” fee for borough services.

The race course takes place about 90 percent in Conewago Township and only requires the closing of two blocks in the borough. They also appear to be using facilities at Myers Playground, but is it $500 worth?

Potter’s House is on tonight’s agenda to use the facilities at Moul Avenue for services during the summer. They are getting a pair of two-hour blocks each day they requested for $50.00.

So a church tonight is getting four hours for $50, but Hanover Fellowship is getting three hours and two blocks of a street closed for $500?

Next Stop: Borough Council

I am happy to announce that I am running for a seat on Hanover Borough Council in the First Ward in the May 19 Republican primary. I am excited to partner with several other like-minded individuals in this election effort.

I strongly believe that the success of Hanover depends on much more than the 10 people sitting behind the council table. My primary goal in running for this seat is to bring transparency, positivity and diversity of opinion to the way the Hanover Borough operates.

Encouraging developments in recent months have proven that Hanover residents and business owners share a common vision of a vibrant downtown that will fuel a dynamic community beyond Center Square and even the borough limits. I hope you will support my First Ward election effort so I can help the borough government play a proactive and constructive role in this exciting time.

Also, I encourage those in other areas of the borough to support Dan Noble (Second Ward), Henry McLin (Third Ward), Scott Angel (Fourth Ward) and James Baumgardner (Fifth Ward) as we work together to benefit the Hanover Borough.

Brian March 11, 2015 4 Comments Permalink

Parking’s Not That Complicated

A bunch of residents near Hanover Hospital came to borough council Wednesday to try and address the problems of parking in the facility’s neighborhoods. I have heard of this before – street parking taken up all day by employees, leaving residents searching for a place to park.

Normally, I am in the “it’s public parking – anyone can use it” side of the equation. I would feel bad for residents, but stick to that line of thinking. Then Barb Krebs had to open her big mouth.

“It’s a complex issue and it’s not an easy fix,” said Barbara Krebs, Hanover Borough manager. “The hospital has their policies and we can’t ticket people for public parking.”

That’s what she said at the meeting (or told the paper after the meeting – I was officiating last night and, quite frankly, probably would not have gone even if I was available because I am kind of sick of this group of yahoos). Once again, it’s time to call BS on the manager’s, well, BS. Council can easily create parking restrictions on certain streets that benefit the residents. Just Google “Pennsylvania borough residential parking” and look at all the boroughs around the state who have all kinds of programs.

Sure, it may involve a fee. Sure, it may require some work. Sure, the hospital might not immediately jump on board. But that’s why we pay you the big bucks, Barb (and you make sure your friends make big bucks too because what’s being in charge without stacking the deck in favor of people who kiss your behind).

It would only be complex if you decided to make it complex. And you will because you don’t want to talk to people or help residents or do anything that someone in your position should do.

Because if you did, the downtown parking plan that was given to you more than a year ago may have done more than serve as a coaster in your office. I bet if these folks wanted to rezone their properties to cram a bunch of efficiency apartments (and threatened to sue you if you didn’t do exactly what they wanted), you’d bend over backwards to help them.

 

Brian January 29, 2015 1 Comment Permalink

Surviving Hanover

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Something amazing happened to me a couple of weeks ago. Something that some people thought could never happen. I enjoyed closing 2014 with a bang.

I walked through the streets of Hanover alone in the evening and no one hurt me.

Now before I go on having fun, let me be clear – I am not making fun of anyone who has actually been victimized by a crime locally or anywhere else. I feel terrible for folks who have to go through things like that.

I am, however, making fun of people who take small pieces of information and conflate them into a larger narrative that just is not true.

This happens all too often with the state of Hanover. Sometimes it’s in reaction to something horrible, like the assault and robbery of an older couple on Moul Avenue last week. An event like that certainly should remind us that bad things can and do happen sometimes, even in our backyard.

But that does not mean that everyone’s personal safety is constantly at risk, like you see some people intimate if you get involved in discussions on local issues on social media.

The recent talk of revitalization efforts on Hanover spurred some of these false fears. Some people reacted to the stories in the paper about what was, what is and what will be happening downtown with comments about how they felt unsafe downtown.

I just laughed. Just look at the news, especially the police log which is printed on a regular basis. People aren’t getting jumped at random intervals in alleys, much less on main roads like Routes 94, 194 and 116. The notion that people enjoying downtown businesses put themselves at risk is just silly.

That’s why I tested the theory one night between Christmas and New Year’s. I wanted to put myself in harm’s way just to show people that it’s possible to survive. I also may have been better off not driving and was just a mile or so from my house. But we’ll go with courageous crusader instead of “guy who knows when he isn’t OK to drive.”

I ventured out on Carlisle Street and then headed to (street redacted so as not to compromise future walks in public at night) and crossed to (I will not give away my location to the hoodlums who may be lurking) before heading straight for my house.

I arrived safe and sound. I also got a nice little workout, which is an added bonus of this mode of transportation. Far from dodging gangs of opportunistic bandits, I think I saw three people. On a Saturday night around 11 p.m.

Hopefully I see more bodies on the street in 2015 when I put my life in my hands again. The opening of two craft breweries will hopefully give others the courage to head into downtown after the sun has gone down.

Those people can rest assured that I stand before them as a survivor. I managed to take a leisurely walk through town without any major incidents. Stranger things have happened.

Brian January 13, 2015 2 Comments Permalink

Santa Is Here

For many years, we didn’t pay attention to the arrival of Santa downtown even though we live within a stones throw of the parade route. Our daughter would spend Thanksgiving weekend with my in-laws for a long time so we had no real need.

Then they added the bicycle decorating contest, and we’re regulars now. I walked with her for a couple of years and now take part with the Lions Club.

The growth of the parade has been fantastic to watch. It kind of mirrors the growth downtown. I saw a bunch of people I knew along the route and then walked around downtown a little bit before heading home (but not until I got a coffee at Reader’s Cafe).

I plan on spending more time downtown this weekend to check out the Christmas Tree Wars trees. What a great idea. Here are some parade photos.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

 

Brian November 28, 2014 Leave A Comment Permalink

Missed Opportunity

I have railed some on Facebook about some of the issues out of Wednesday’s borough council meeting, particularly related to the amusement tax debate and the duplicitousness of Councilman Sonny Eline (especially in the light of his 2011 proclamations about how he wanted to revitalize downtown), but that wasn’t the only thing that happened Wednesday showing the poor leadership on Frederick Street.

I may get some of the details wrong since I had to leave before this item came up so let me know if I need correcting. One of the Miscreation Brewing owners came to talk about the possibility of outside seating for the business on Center Square. The topic had been on a committee agenda earlier in the month, but was not on the council agenda. He spoke during the public comment period at the end.

From what I heard, he needed direction from the borough on what was allowed because it affected their application to the Liquor Control Board. They could go back and amend things in the future, but that cost more money for fees, something every small business wants to avoid, especially in the beginning. Like I said, I wasn’t there so am fuzzy on the details, but the result appeared to be “we need to research this and will get back to you even though you would like an answer now to avoid extra hearing fees in the future, but we can’t tell you now.”

(Again, let me know if I screwed that up, but I have heard this version from more than one person.)

Listen, I know governments can’t always move on a dime. Sometimes research does need to take place, but at the very least some concern about wanting to work in partnership with a business should show through. That’s not the borough way, of course, as Barb Krebs hides behind the huge monitor in front of her at the table so she can avoid actually engaging with the residents she serves.

But it’s not just their lack of customer service that bugs me. It’s that they already had this discussion three years ago and didn’t take any action even though Eline said he didn’t want to limit opportunities like the one Miscreation is aiming for!

The story clearly says there is no open container law in the borough. Unless that has changed (am I wrong?), the borough should have pointed that out to Miscreation and/or offered to work with them on the ins and outs of the existing laws so they don’t run afoul of the LCB.

So why didn’t Wednesday result in, “oh, we have talked about this in the past and here’s what you can do now and here’s what could happen with any possible ordinance and staff is happy to help you out”? If I remember this and can Google the facts in a few seconds, why the hell can’t the people who claim they have our best interests in mind do it?

Brian September 26, 2014 3 Comments Permalink

Threesome

Last year, Hanover Borough Council enacted a plan to change the upper floor of the Guthrie Memorial Library into a privately-run events space. They went about this without any public discussion. The public got involved, and the borough had to backtrack.

Last year, Hanover Borough Council moved forward with a plan to turn wetlands on the north end of town into a nature trail. They went about this without any public discussion. The public got involved, and the borough had to backtrack.

This year, Hanover Borough Council sent a bill to Timeline Arcade for an amusement tax which they had willingly chosen not to levy when the business was at the mall. The public got involved, and the borough is in the middle of backtracking.

I really, really, really, really, really, really, really, really, really, really, really, really, really, really, really, really, really, really, really, really, really, really, really, really, really, really, really, really, really, really, really, really, really, really, really, really, really, really, really, really, really, really, really, really, really, really, really, really, really, really, really, really, really, really, really, really, really, really, really, really, really, really, really, really, really, really, really, really, really, really, really, really, really, really, really, really, really, really, really, really, really, really, really, really hope that Barb Krebs, John Gerken and the rest of their cabal see the pattern here.

You don’t have to put everything up to a public referendum, but if you hide what you do from the public eye, odds are you are completely out of touch with good judgement and the will of the people. Just because you get away with it once in a while (the Tanger building) doesn’t make it right.

Brian August 28, 2014 Leave A Comment Permalink

Meetings Tonight

Hanover Borough has a couple of meetings tonight. I have another obligation, so this is one of those times when I am really happy they were pressured into posting agendas online so I can see what’s happening and help spread the word. Let’s just hope they didn’t “forget” to add something like a quarter-million dollar un-budgeted property purchase like they did last month.

The Public Service committee meets at 6:15 p.m. with the council meeting to follow at 7. Remember, this is the only official council meeting for the month since they switched the schedule for 2014. That means they are approving a request for Delone’s tennis team to use the West Hanover Street tennis courts tonight even though the team has been playing there for almost three weeks.

Anyway, here are some highlights from the agendas as well as department reports (in no particular order)

  1. The amusement tax is on the public service agenda. Hopefully this is the discussion to repeal the tax as I have heard rumors about.
  2. The council agenda has an item to accept a $1,183,205.74 bid for a new ladder truck. This runaway train wasn’t going to be stopped, unfortunately.
  3. According to the library director’s report, there are significant leaks in the children’s library area. All that money to tear things out, put them back off and now there are buckets, plastic sheeting and “caution” tape all over the place.
  4. The auction of the Blue Quarry Farm land is set for next month and departments are being asked to put together “unusable or saleable equipment to be auctioned.” It’s bad enough that the administration and council leadership committed to buying the Tanger building before having the money in hand, but now they are basically yard-saling it on the fly to raise funds?
  5. The Public Service Committee will take up a waiver request for the Hanover Athletic Boosters 5K later this fall. A tiebreaking vote by Mayor Ben Adams last year waived the fee much to the consternation of some people at the table. Very interested to see how it plays out last year since some recent meetings haven’t even included a vote on waiver requests.
  6. Two items on the same agenda will focus on “positive aspects of skateparks” from a citizen letter and a proposal for bocce courts at Wirt Park.
  7. The borough bicentennial is also on that agenda. That would be next year. I know who shouldn’t be in charge of planning it.
  8. A small item from the library report, the Middle School Book Talks at the library is losing its funding source. Richard Michael has moved from the area. I really hope the library can get someone to step up for this program (and more).

If you can go, head to the meeting and make your voice heard or at least make sure they know people are keeping an eye on things.

Brian August 27, 2014 Leave A Comment Permalink