The Borough of Emmaus has taken the first steps toward opening itself up to outsiders – at least as far as serving on four borough volunteer commissions is concerned.
Emmaus Borough Council approved on first reading at its Sept. 17 meeting a resolution that would allow non-borough residents to serve on the Arts, Parks & Recreation, Special Entertainment and Shade Tree commissions. In the past the borough has had a tough time filling openings on these groups.
Councilman Mike Waddell, whose General Administration committee proposed the measure, said that during his tenure on the Arts Commission, he can only think of one time that all 11 slots were filled and that was for a period lasting about a month.
“I fully support this,” he said. “It’s unfortunate that we have to go beyond the borough, but it also gives us the opportunity to find some other expertise.”
Councilman Brian Holtzhafer offered his support for the suggested ordinance, recalling a time when an Emmaus business owner stepped up to fill an open slot on the Parks & Recreation Commission and had to be turned away because he did not live in Emmaus, even though he had strong ties to the borough because of his business.
Councilman Brent Labenberg emphasized that the resolution, by design, ensures that majority control on each commission remains with borough residents.
The measure merely allows a set number of slots on each commission to be filled by non-residents when no borough resident steps up to fill an opening, Labenberg explained. It does not require that the borough award any commission positions to non-residents.
“We always want to have Emmaus borough residents running these commissions,” Labenberg said. “This just gives us more flexibility.”
Under the measure passed at the Sept. 17 meeting, here’s how things stack up:
- Emmaus Arts Commission - Three of 11 members can be non-residents
- Parks & Recreation Commission -Two of nine members can be non-residents
- Special Entertainment Commission - One of five members can be non-residents
- Shade Tree Commission - One of five members can be non-residents.
Councilman Nathan Brown was absent from the Sept. 17 meeting. The proposed ordinance, which also changes the meeting schedule for the Parks & Recreation Commission from monthly to quarterly, will be up for final approval at a future meeting.