Tensions were apparent at Monday night's Slatington Water/Sewer/Highway Workshop Committee meeting, with many people present being called into the fray.
Though the mood seemed decidedly strained from the start, the real back-and-forth dispute began when the topic of sewer laterals came up on the agenda. Water/Special Sewer Committee Chairman Bryon Reed mentioned that, at last Monday night's monthly borough council meeting, some visitors had discussed the topic of private sewer laterals.
He said the Times News article about the meeting "leads people to believe that we've been telling people to replace their laterals when they really don't need to be replaced" which, he said, is untrue. Reed was referring to comments made at the council meeting by borough resident Ron Scheffler. Tha article made it seem like Scheffler had replaced his own lateral when he had not. He had been referring to "some homeowners".
Reed said that, except for one possible exception, he was not aware of anyone in the borough having fixed their sewer lateral unnecessarily. Borough Council President Daniel Stevens referred to the comments by Scheffler as "hearsay" and then brought up a direct quote from Scheffler in the article that stated that Borough Foreman John Bolton had been untruthful at past public meetings.
Scheffler, who was in the audience, said he had made the statement about Bolton not from personal interaction with him but rather based on past borough minutes from June 11, 2012 in which, he said, Reed had said all the laterals in question had been videotaped. But Scheffler's real frustration appeared to be that, whenever asked how far along were the inspections of the laterals, he said, the borough committee and council members didn't seem to know.
By the end of the discussion, Scheffler publicly apologized to Bolton.
In regard to the progress of videotaping the sewer laterals, Bolton said, while there are certainly plans to complete the camera inspections of all of the borough's private sewer laterals, a certain amount of rain is needed in order to do so. This season's less-than-optimal rainfall amounts have not been good for checking them, he said.
"It's not going to be a one-year project," Bolton explained. He gave a list of which borough streets have been checked.
After the meeting, Stevens agreed that "it takes time" to check all the laterals and Reed agreed that more rain is needed in order to do so properly.
"We're not the only community with this problem," he said.
The council did say, however, that the majority of the public laterals are done.
When asked why the sewer laterals keep coming up in conversation during the public comment portion of borough meetings, the council said it seemed to be simply a point of contention for some visitors who come back meeting after meeting.
Daniels, Reed and committee member Galen Freed also expressed their frustration at having to spend so much borough time and energy dealing with the issue.