Indiana Council Details Possible New Borough Maps | Local News
The Indiana Borough Council spent just over an hour Tuesday night reviewing proposed maps that would likely replace the existing four-ward layout that divides the borough along Philadelphia and Seventh streets.
Council Vice Chair Kaycee Newell explained why a new distribution is needed: The current ward map and distribution of council representation does not follow the basic principle of one person, one vote.
She chaired an ad hoc committee that came up with maps for the general, two-, three-, four-, and six-ward divisions of the borough of just over 14,000 people that is home to Indiana University in Pennsylvania. .
Newell chaired an ad hoc committee that included board chairman Dr. Peter Broad in an ex officio role, along with administration chairman Poom Sunhachawi-Taylor and advisers Sara Steelman and Luke DeBuyser.
Their consensus recommendations were for a general system with seven councilors and a two-ward system with an eight-member council, although Newell said, “I would be comfortable with three wards as well.”
This proposal could involve four members in a central district and two in the eastern and western districts.
Councilman Donald Lancaster said a three- or two-ward system wouldn’t require as many map line changes “if you have to change lines,” say, after the 2030 federal census.
Steelman is the author of a six-ward proposal, but said three wards “have real benefits.”
Newell also took note of Councilwoman Tamara Collazzo’s attendance at a series of three public meetings and said “some members of the community showed up” in the council chambers in the basement of the George E. Hood.
“I would hate for people not to see that,” Councilman Gerald Smith said. Newell said additional public hearings or polls could be funded and scheduled if the majority of the board deems it necessary beyond the public meetings, as noted in his presentation:
• On August 2 or August 16, the Newell committee will seek a board vote for attorney Patrick Dougherty to write an order – or orders – for the cards.
• On August 23, the Sunhachawi-Taylor Board of Directors will review the ordinances and bring a draft to the board for a vote.
• On September 6, council could vote to announce an ordinance.
• On October 4, if an order was announced in September, the council would then hold a final vote on the redistribution.
“The most important thing here is to stay one person, one vote,” former councilman Jim McQuown observed, in a sparse audience including two people in the council chamber and two townspeople online watching the meeting streamed. .
“I invited people to this meeting,” Broad said, but conceded “eyes glazed over” when he explained what was to be discussed.
The council vice president said her panel discussed issues with borough zoning staff and researched 15 other Pennsylvania municipalities with populations under 45,000 that house universities.
Of those 15 municipalities studied, Newell said, 11 were organized using a large-scale system (State College, Carlisle, Millersville, Calif., Edinboro, Clarion, Kutztown, Slippery Rock, and the boroughs of Mansfield; city of Bloomsburg; and City of Lock Haven), and four used a ward system (boroughs of West Chester, East Stroudsburg, Clearfield, and Shippensburg).
None used a hybrid system mixing ward representation with membership at large, council sizes ranged from five in Shippensburg to eight in Clearfield, and mayors serve as council presidents in Carlisle, Bloomsburg and Lock Haven.
Shippensburg also has a quirk not found in the other municipalities surveyed – one neighborhood in Franklin County, two neighborhoods in Cumberland County.
Newell and Borough Manager Nichole Sipos found an example of a hybrid system in the city of Johnstown, which has a mix of wards and general councillors, and is a self-governing municipality where the mayor is council president.
The concept of council committees in a redistributed borough was not a topic Tuesday night. Newell said a decision on the new composition of the committees could be made once the redistribution process is complete.
There wasn’t much else on the agenda for Tuesday’s business session.
Broad said Sara King, president of the Friends of White’s Woods, wants a meeting with him and any other councilors who wish to join them Thursday at 2 p.m. in the council chambers.
Community Development Chairman Ben Ford reminded colleagues of the third Thursday of this week and mentioned the First Commonwealth Bank Taste & Tour, which also takes place on Thursday. The bank has a Facebook page that describes this event.
Police Chief Justin Schawl said the June police calls were similar to the number in June 2019, before the pandemic.
He also mentioned upcoming events, including providing a police escort for a parade as part of Starlit Night 2022 from Summit Church to Mack Park on July 29, and the Italian Festival in town on August 14 from noon to 7 p.m. h.
Dougherty was in line for Tuesday’s meeting (as was Smith). The lawyer had to witness a death in his family.
He also led an executive session for legal matters following the public portion of the business session.