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Earth Day Festival planning turns political in Tinicum


Editor's Note: This story has been updated to reflect that the Earth Day Festival will be held at Tinicum Township Community Park on Tohickon Valley Road, not Tinicum Park on River Road, which is a Bucks County park.

Preparations for the April 22 Earth Day Festival at Tinicum Township Community Park — particularly regarding which groups to invite and the public’s involvement in the planning — have divided the township’s Environmental Advisory Ad Hoc Committee.

A highly contentious discussion ensued at the Jan. 17 meeting of the Tinicum Township Board of Supervisors.

EAC member Cindi Gasparre has taken on the committee lead for the event, which is hoping to bring in participating solar companies, electric car dealers, environmentally active farmers, and other vendors to enhance the breadth and depth of the program at the site on Tohickon Valley Road.

Kim Rosamilia, another EAC member, took umbrage with Gasparre and in particular, Supervisor Eleanor Breslin, who has participated in several planning meetings. Rosamilia said that there were several Zoom calls to plan the event that were not publicly announced in advance. She said she believed this was inappropriate as she and others were not able to participate and contribute their viewpoints.

Gasparre noted there was a publicly announced meeting held on Jan. 4, at which “Kim was not present but had been invited.”

Directing her comments to Breslin, Rosamilia said she is very concerned about the politicization of the event via the proposed participation of a particular vendor — Conservation Voters of Pennsylvania.

“They are a heavy-duty lobbying group and I object to this event having any political affiliations,” Rosamilia said.

Breslin respond.

“The idea is to have a lot of diverse offerings for environmentally related community interaction,” she said. “Not one vendor has been invited yet and there were no directives discussed — only brainstorming ideas.”

Co-Chair Jim Helms then clarified use of public spaces throughout the township.

“Like it or not, if any organization shows up at an event in a public space, such as a public park, we must open participation up to them. We cannot stop anyone from showing up.”

Helms attempted to then shift the conversation onto future EAC projects. “How, as a board, do we want to be involved in proposed ideas to ensure proper inclusion?”

Chairman Richard Rosamilia added, “We have been discussing the creation of an ordinance to make the EAC a formal committee. They are now compiling their scope of duties for our consideration. The EAC as a standing committee can hold their own meetings, then come to the Board with their ideas and proposals.”

According to township solicitor Steve Harris, migrating the EAC from an ad hoc committee to a formal standing committee would also subject the group to the Pennsylvania Sunshine Act, which would require meetings to be advertised and open to the public.

The encounter came to closure with Helms offering that the EAC can proceed with the impending Earth Day event in a timely fashion, but the board would approve the proposed vendor list. The board, as a whole, concurred.

In other meeting news, the “Coalition Against Bigger Trucks” (CABT) has asked Tinicum to formally oppose federal legislation expanding allowable truck sizes.

Richard Rosamilia inquired what Bucks County roads might be impacted by this legislation. Breslin responded, “Trucks would be allowed on the national network, meaning they could also be allowed access to state and local roads in order to provide reasonable access to the national roadways.”

Breslin surmised that at the least, “we’d see them on 611 as a way to get on and off.” Helm proposed and the board agreed that Tinicum should sign a CABT support letter and ask Tinicum’s chief of police to do so as well.

It was also announced that “free open viewing” of supervisors meetings has now been made available via YouTube. Allowing non-attending community members to actively participate via Zoom remains under discussion.