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Agenda items brought up at the regular meeting of the Montrose Borough Council on September 8 ranged from monthly reports to a request from one resident for assistance, to an update by another about efforts to help those in the county who need it, to pooper-scooper ordinances. Vice president Todd Chamberlain presided, sitting in for president Craig Reimel (a previous announced commitment brought him to the meeting after it started), with all members present. Both Mayor Tom LaMont and solicitor Jason Legg were also there for a good portion of the proceedings.
The assistance the resident requested was to help set right what is, even by the Tax Assessors office, an erroneous tax bill. It seems that, two years ago, the assessment office mis-measured the residents home improvement. The result was a tax bill, for the past two years, that was double the amount prior to the alteration.
The resident reported that he recently asked for another measurement by the assessors office which it did, and which resulted in acknowledging that the first measurement was wrong. The office had no problem saying it would adjust accordingly the residents tax bill for this year. Amending the overpayment he made on last years tax bill, however, is something else.
A representative of the tax office basically told the resident that its his fault that he overpaid, because he never responded to a letter that the office sends out to notify taxpayers that they have 40 days from the date of the letter to address any questions about their tax bills. The resident says that he never received this letter, and he is asking the town for its help, adding that he needs to make the same request to the school district and the county commissioners to get their assistance on redressing the county and school taxes he has overpaid.
The resident had a sympathetic audience. Chamberlain said that if the tax office said they made a mistake, then they can rectify it a feeling shared by the other council members. Thus, council directed secretary Annette Rogers to contact the assessment office, get the status of the report on the residents payment and miscalculation in writing, and take it to borough solicitor Legg for action that Council hoped would make things right. Council didnt expect to be able to look at any results of these activities until its next regular meeting, and that was okay by the resident.
The resident who came to update was Earl Wooten, and he informed council about the objectives of the new United Way of Susquehanna County (previously called the Charities Distribution Fund). Wooten described it as being of, by and for Susquehanna County and the charities in it that benefit county residents. Currently, the organization consists of 27 charitable funds (such as Habitat for Humanity, various scholarship funds, Salt Springs State Park, and others) throughout the county, and that list is growing.
Wooten noted that it will shortly be kicking off a capital campaign to obtain start-up funds for the organization to keep it running for some time to come. The objective of the campaign is to raise $150,000; if it does this, three donors each contributing $50,000 will match that amount, for a total of $300,000.
The way it hopes to do this is through payroll deduction. Wooten noted that two-thirds of the money earned by county residents is earned outside the county. Many of these residents contribute to the United Way through payroll deductions, which are often matched by their employers and which are generally allocated to the community where the business is located. Wooten would like to lasso these donations and have them redirected to the United Way of Susquehanna County, where they will be spent here, at home.
He noted that anyone who donates to the United Way whether through payroll deduction or otherwise decides to what charity he or she wants their monies directed. If its not on the list of funds already in the United Way, it will be sent to the donors designated charity nonetheless. If the donor has no preference, a local board made up of county residents control the distribution of the money to funds within the county.
Wooten also reported that it costs the countys United Way just $7 out of every $1,000 collected to be a part of United Way of America. This fee more than balances out the benefit of belonging to the group because of its proven ability to collect charitable dollars and its access to employee payroll deductions, a major source of donations. He noted that, for accounting, auditing and other record-keeping functions, the countys United Way will be an affiliate of the United Way of Wyoming Valley. This organization, says Wooten, can provide the services for much less than the county organization could. All fund-raising and fund distribution will be controlled locally.
Wooten finished his update by noting that on September 13, the final day of the Montrose Sales Days and the day of the Apple Festival, several Montrose merchants will be donating a percent of that days sales to support the capital campaign.
Council reviewed other reports as well. Council member Jack Yeager added some comments to street foreman Ken DiPhillips written report, which included the completion of piping on Turrell Street, with the blacktop coming next. DiPhillips had also started the tree-trimming program and has gotten a response back from a number of people asking him to trim.
The new catch basins that DiPhillips recommended a couple of months ago and purchased on behalf of the borough are working out beautifully. He told Yeager they are easy to put in, saving days that used to be spent building a catch basin. Freezing and thawing should not bother them any, either. In fact, DiPhillips requested four more of the catch basins, and Yeager told council it "would be well advised to approve them." Council did.
DiPhillips report also noted that hell be trying to get the water problems at Lincoln Avenue squared away; that hes looking for a snowplow, cheap, to put on the boroughs Dodge truck; and that hes scheduled some sign replacement for this month.
Rogers also reported that she asked DiPhillips to obtain some prices for a new lawn mower to see if one could be considered for next years budget. It seems like the current, decade-old mower is in the shop about as much as the old police car was. Right now, its waiting for parts.
Borough Codes enforcement officer Shane Lewis written report noted that, during the month of August, he issued seven verbal warnings, addressed three complaints, issued two violations and seven building permits, and did 15 general inspections. Rogers noted that theres been some reluctance on the part of some new businesses to go through the state department of Labor and Industry for a certificate of occupancy and do what that entails. Businesses, said Rogers, never had to do this before, and some do not like it. Nevertheless, it is protocol and procedure, and Lewis is following up on it.
In other business, Council held a hearing that approved conditional use of the Bartron Funeral Home. The home is no longer a residence, which it also was, and the conditional use was required to note this change and for the business to continue to operate in an otherwise residential zone.
It also voted to approve the subdivision of Coleman Farms the subdivided land to be used as a cemetery.
And in what sounds like a most curious bargain, Council is looking into the purchase of a used police car for a dollar through an organization called Government Acquisitions Inc. The borough would be responsible for maintenance and repair on the vehicle; apparently some advertising on its panels would be involved; at worst, it was thought that such a vehicle could be used as a deterrent; and Rogers will get further information for council to review at its next meeting.
Everyone on council seemed to like the temporary stop signs at the corner of High and Mill Streets. In order to make it permanent, an ordinance has to be changed. Legg will draft it. It will be published before the next meeting and council will re-address it then.
It will also readdress a sample pooper-scooper ordinance noted by member Bernie Zalewski in a town in which he was vacationing and which has a dog waste ordinance. Rogers got a copy of the towns dog-waste ordinance, which is part of that municipalitys nuisance ordinance. Its upshot is that the owner of an animal that messes up (and on) property other than the owners is required to pick up after the animal. Council has heard complaints from business owners about dogs fouling the sidewalks downtown, leaving a mess, smell and health hazard.
As for such a nuisance in Montrose, Council member Elmer Taylor, normally not one who wants government telling citizens what to do, thought it was a good thing, making owners responsible for their animals and respecting the property of others. Reimel noted that there are a lot of dogs just running loose in the borough and didnt seem to favor an ordinance that would make it possible to enforce compliance for offenders. Nevertheless, others thought that it might be a start, getting people to clean up their animals mess that is now simply left on someone elses property.
No decisions were made on the dog-poop do. The item was tabled for the time being.
In other updates, Taylor noted that the boroughs tax collector will be making repairs to the steps and railings leading to his house. Reimel reported that the Verizon cell tower seems to have been put on hold while the company focuses on increasing business in metropolitan areas. Rogers reported that a hearing is scheduled for September 24 with the zoning board, at which a company called Industrial Electronics will make a case for putting up a 180-foot tower opposite the fairgrounds.
The next regular meeting of the Montrose Borough Council is scheduled for October 6, at 7 p.m. in the Borough Building on Cherry Street.
The Forest City Borough Council has turned thumbs down on a petition to abandon some 300 feet of Delaware Street near the Forest City Nursing Home.
Following a public hearing on the matter last week, Council voted unanimously to reject the proposal. The move came on the heels of a number of concerns from property owners about the future of the remaining sections of the undeveloped street.
The petition was submitted by Mark Sackadorf who would like to build a new home on a land-locked parcel of land on the east side of an undeveloped section of Delaware Street. At a meeting in August and at last weeks public hearing, Phil Hodges, who has been contracted by Sackadorf to build the new home, said owners of the nursing home suggested a swap that would give Sackadorf access to his double lot if the borough would abandon 300 feet of Delaware Street.
The nursing home owns land on both sides of the section of the street in question. If the borough agreed to abandon that portion of Delaware Street the land would be awarded to the nursing home. Gerald B. Franceski, a partner in the nursing home, said it would cost the borough $50,000 to extend the street beyond a wide ravine at the end of the existing Delaware Street.
"We will give Mr. Sackadorf an easement if the borough will abandon that 300-foot section of Delaware Street," Franceski said.
Franceski said he discussed the matter of allowing Sackadorf an easement if the borough would abandon 300 feet of Delaware Street with Council President Jim Lowry.
"Mr. Lowry said he thought it was a good idea," Franceski concluded.
However, Lowry said he endorsed the idea of the nursing home granting Sackadorf an easement but that no one said anything to him about abandoning a section of Delaware Street.
Some council members expressed a belief that in the future it might be easier to bridge the gap in the street than to develop another paper street to gain access to Delaware Street.
At the August meeting, Borough Solicitor Robert Fields suggested that the borough consider abandoning all of the undeveloped sections of Delaware Street.
"Just thinking out loud," said Fields, "if we abandon 300 feet we might as well just abandon it all. If we abandon 300 feet it leaves a gap and no effective way to access the rest of the road."
Landowners on the north side of the ravine expressed concern that abandoning a section of Delaware Street would landlock their lots and render them useless. Mary Yakely, who owns 15 acres that front on the undeveloped section of Delaware Street, said her children may want to build homes on the land in the future.
Mark Washeleski and Mary Franceski expressed concern about the future of their lots if a section of Delaware Street is abandoned. And Frank Gliha of Upper North Main Street said he has two lots in back of his home that front on the section of Delaware Street that is undeveloped.
"We have been paying taxes on that land for years," Gliha said. "Are you going to let us stop paying taxes on it if you abandon the street?"
Proponents of the petition to abandon 300 feet of Delaware Street said the town could never extend the street because it allowed the nursing home to build right to the street line and it is possible that some of the nursing home construction may actually extend into Delaware Street.
However, Mayor Frank Brager, who was a member of the Zoning Board that granted a variance to the nursing home allowing it to build to the street right-of-way, said he does not believe any portion of the building extends into the street. However, he did not rule out the possibility that the sidewalk and fence may be in the right-of-way.
Since the council has rejected the petition to abandon any part of the street, Sackadorf does have the right to take the matter to the court of common pleas.
In another matter, Council rejected a proposed meeting with Robert Selinskys attorney, opting instead to allow Mr. Selinsky to abide by terms of a consent agreement that gives him until Oct. 15 to bring his Delaware Street structure into compliance with building codes. However, Fields pointed out that, while Selinsky did not sign the consent agreement, the borough can still enforce it.
Councils motion will allow the code enforcement officer to issue citations to Selinsky if the two-family duplex is not updated on or before Oct. 15.
Initially, council agreed to give Selinsky until Sept. 15 to improve the structure. However, Fields said he had given the governing body the wrong date at the last meeting and that the consent agreement allows Selinsky until Oct. 15.
Council agreed to hold off on a trial run of the boroughs alternate side of the street parking law after residents complained of potential hardships that would be caused by enforcing the law. Another influencing factor was the presentation of a petition with 125 signatures opposing the parking law. Kelly Twilley submitted the petition.
Hop Bottom Borough Council met on Tuesday, September 2, at the Municipal Building on Forest Street. With the exception of Joanne Wisniewski, all members of the council were present.
The full agenda took almost two hours to cover. Mayor Paul Henry presented the police report for Chief Ron Cosklo. He included among other items in his report 12 traffic citations filed, 5 warrants received with 2 warrants satisfied. The report included 8 assists to other agencies, 10 warnings and one disorderly conduct.
Eric Lynn was able to contact Kurt Kulick regarding the trailers and other issues at his location on Route #1l. Culvert repairs have been satisfied and the Borough is awaiting the Army Corps. of Engineers for its inspection.
The Upper Tunkhannock Watershed Association and Martens Creek Watershed Association will be maintaining separate identities as per Borough President Janice Webster.
The demolition grant sought by the Borough has been approved. Bidding on the job for the demolition will be made public this month. Regarding the possibility of changes for a Borough Hall, plans for both the present facility and the reconstruction of the garage to make use of it as a hall on the old Stout Property are being considered. John Koshinsky will be reviewing some of the plans with the assistance of Ron Barankovich. Webster noted that the matter has been under discussion for a long time. The opinion of the townspeople has been recorded in the past regarding this situation.
Potholes on a number of local streets were discussed, and some deep ones on Center Street will be filled this month with hot patch. A discussion with Randy Decker of PENNDOT covered many of the road issues facing the Borough. Swails and catch basins are planned for Adams Street to help eleviate water problems on the road. Drainage pipes are to be installed to help with water problems at the bottom of High Street. Phone bids will be sought for snow removal for the coming season.
The council will be happy to support the measures being taken through the efforts of Bonnie Bradley for bike safety. The council will help defray expenses, if the fundraising efforts of the young people's car wash slated for 9AM to Noon on September 13 does not cover all costs.
A meeting was suggested for Emergency Management coordinators and townspeople. Dawn Watson, EMA County Director will be invited. The meeting is scheduled for October 15 or October 22, depending on the availability of Ms. Watson. Bonnie Lippart, Borough Secretary/Treasurer and the Borough's EMA Coordinator, purchased safety packets and special name tags to be used in case of an emergency.
The council meets at 7:30 PM at the Forest Street location on the first Tuesday of each month.
Luther C. Wood and Hazel M. Wood to the Wood Family Trust, Luther C. Wood and Hazel M. Wood, Trustors and/or Trustees in Forest Lake Township for $1.
Barbara E. Cribbs and Terrance P. Cribbs to Laura Devito in Liberty Township for $40,000.
Irma A. Murphy to Deborah L. Sellitto in Lanesboro Borough for $89,900.
Duane L. Jerauld and Jane F. Jerauld to Scott J. Quigg in Montrose Borough for $325,000.
Robert G. Esslinger and Christine Esslinger to John M. Phillips in Franklin Township for $68,000.
Darlene J. Cotton nbm Darlene J. Timek and Michael M. Timek to Darlene J. Timek and Michael M. Timek in Rush Township for $1 ogvc.
John M. Phillips to Valentene F. Mazzella in Franklin Township for $71,000.
Lance M. Benedict, Sheriff, to Edna Atkins in Lenox Township for $8,000 (transfer tax paid on fair market value of $59,130).
James M. Sellitto and Deborah L. Sellitto to Kevin M. Price and Margaret M. Price in Harmony Township for $112,000.
Barbara J. Galloway to Bobbi Morris and Charles Morris in Great Bend Borough for $1.
Robert D. Pettinheo and Edith Pettinheo to Donald T. Tanner and Donna J. Tanner in New Milford Township for $95,000.
Sovereign Bank, now by merger, Pennstar Bank to Michael W. Dibble and Anna Dibble in Susquehanna Borough for $22,000.
James C. McMyne and Laura A. McMyne to Anthony T. Cauiola in Silver Lake Township for $1.
Household Realty Corporation to William S. Mead & Jodi L. Mead in Dimock Township for $114,000.
PENNDOT to Estate of T. Dobrosielski in Auburn Township for highway occupancy permit.
Jimmy Baldwin & Amanda Baldwin to Jay Talsania & Diana L. Talsania in Silver Lake Township for $59,000.
Esther Freeman to Robert Coe in New Milford Township for $22,000.
Bruce L. Conklin and Edith M. Conklin to Mark A. Conklin and Charlotte L. Conklin in New Milford Township for $1.
Dale E. Patton and Deborah E. Patton to Deborah E. Patton in Jackson Township for $1.
Nancy Panzera Jackson and Jesse Jackson to Nicola Scaperrotta in Oakland Township for $57,000.
Richard W. Ross to Patricia M. Doolittle in Lenox Township for $1 (transfer tax paid on fair market value of $102,765.
Ivan Payne, Jr. & Tammy Payne to Floyd Wood and Evelyn Wood in Silver Lake Township for $6,800.
Mary Tourje, Executrix of the Estate of Stella K. Williams to Dayle R. McGuire in Herrick Township for $45,000.
Marion Pavletich and Julia Pavletich to Brett S. Grover and Elaine D. Grover in Bridgewater Township for $32,000.
Steve Holtsmaster to the Honesdale National Bank in Harford Township for $1.
Peoples National Bank to the Marketing Department, Inc. in New Milford Township for $55,000.
Shirley E. DeMann and Jane L. Skinner to The Marketing Department, Inc. in Montrose Borough for $90,000.
William Henry and Pamela Henry to The Marketing Department Inc. in Montrose Borough for $68,000.
William Brownell, RR4, Starrucca, was operating a 1995 Toyota 4X4 while traveling south on State Route 1005, Thompson Township, when a deer entered the road and was struck by Brownell's vehicle, causing him to lose control. The vehicle traveled into a large water deposit which had gathered on the road due to ongoing rain causing the vehicle to leave the road and strike an embankment, spin, flip onto its roof before coming to rest in a ditch. Brownell suffered minor injuries in this September 2 incident.
THEFT BY UNLAWFUL TAKING
Someone stole a tan 1998 Chevy, 1500, 4 X 4, pick up truck from Mark Blank, 40, Vestal, NY, while the vehicle was parked at Robb's Country Market parking lot, Route 11, Great Bend Township. The truck had a metal tool box in the bed with a ladder rack. Anyone with information on this August 31 incident which occurred between noon and 4:30 should contact the PA State Police at 570-465-3154.
MOTOR VEHICLE CRASH
While attempting to negotiate a curve at the intersection of North Rd. and Forest Lake Rd., Forest Lake Township, Robin Zurn, 20, Great Bend, lost control of his 1995 Plymouth Voyager, and struck a utility pole. Zurn had minor injuries from this August 31 accident.
A 2002 Chevy Impala was parked on State Route 11, Great Bend Borough, near Carroll St. on August 28 at 6:55 p.m. when the owner, Rita Knopick, Hallstead, was attempting to enter it. The driver door was opened into the southbound lane when a vehicle struck the door and continued on State Route 11 southbound. The unknown vehicle is a silver, mid-sized sedan and should have damage to the right front with a broken headlamp and turn signal lens. Anyone with information is asked to contact the PA State Police at Gibson at 570-465-3154.
John McAllister, RR1, Nicholson, had his window smashed by an unknown individual. The incident occurred on August 29 at 1:00 p.m., on State Route 2035, Lenox Township. Anyone with information is asked to contact the PA State Police at Gibson at 570-465-3154.
FUGITIVE FROM JUSTICE
At the request of the NYS Parole Department, the PA State Police apprehended Daniel Lee Houck, 35, Binghamton, NY, at a stone quarry located just north of Stanley Lake in Choconut Township. Also arrested was Houck's father, Leland Houck, for hindering apprehension, a felony. Houck, when questioned by PA State Police as to the whereabouts of his son, lied to the troopers at the scene. Daniel Houck was found a short time later after a brief search of the Choconut Township location. Both were brought before District Justice Watson Dayton, Montrose. Leland Houck was released on his own recognizance, while son, Daniel Houck, was incarcerated in the Susquehanna County Jail.
Milford Flooding Discussed
Representatives of two businesses were present at Thursday nights regular meeting of the New Milford Borough Council, at which all members were present. They were there to receive one of them belatedly the boroughs Good Neighbor Recognition.
Council member Rick Ainey noted that the recognition is a means to thank not just individuals, but also business owners for the good things they do in the community for helping its youth, for giving them jobs, for giving their time. He added that anyone in the community can nominate a business or a person for the recognition.
Septembers honoree is New Milford Hardware, and Ainey was pleased to recognize the business for ongoing involvement in Little League and other youth organizations. Barb Stone, co-owner along with husband, Gary who was unable to attend because he was chaperoning youth to an event, thanked council for the recognition, saying, "We wish a certificate could be given to everyone for the good things they do for the community."
The honoree for August is the New Milford Pump and Pantry, a business that was the subject of complaints and a petition by its neighbors as to noisy and possibly criminal goings-on in its parking area. However, as council member Mary Ann Warren described in giving the business its recognition certificate, the concern has contributed to the Cub Scouts, the Boy Scouts, the librarys Story Hour, numerous sports organizations, and made available its training facilities to conduct community meetings. Accepting the certificate on behalf of the Pump and Pantry was Mr. Anderson, who thanked council for the recognition.
The monthly report of Codes enforcement officer Shane Lewis usually follows the recognitions at council meetings, and Lewis updated members on his activities on the boroughs behalf during August. He reported that some issues need to be corrected regarding the handicap ramp at the Youth Advocate offices, but that, otherwise, "everything is fine with Labor and Industry, and they are still continuing on with their variances." He noted that Bella Pizza, a Main Street business, now has a new owner and change of occupant. Lewis inspected their ramps and said some issues will be corrected there.
Lewis also spoke with a Mrs. Plevinsky about a consignment shop and said that this business is now going through Labor and Industry processing. As to Scott Youngs trailer apparently more a junk trailer than anything else and which is parked on private property Lewis said that there is nothing he can do about it right now because, "basically, its an uninspected vehicle right now, and one uninspected vehicle is legal right now."
When Ainey asked why one would be legal, Lewis replied thats how the boroughs property maintenance rules lay it out, adding that the rules also contain an exception for what can be called, by its owner, a stock car or a hobby car. This surprised some council members, and Lewis noted that council could change these exceptions and the "one uninspected vehicle" clause by amending its property maintenance rules.
Lewis also reported that the owner of Bovenkamps building obtained a sign permit. Lewis cant issue an occupancy permit until he gets something from Labor and Industry. He also noted that originally, the building was expected to expand by more than 50 percent, which would require a visual inspection by a Labor and Industry representative.
Council president Scott Smith said he spoke with the business owner and didnt think he was going to construct to the size originally planned. Lewis will continue to follow up.
Ainey asked Lewis about how COG Codes Enforcement Committee would be charging for mileage for work done on behalf of COG member municipalities. Codes employees use their own vehicles. COG maintains its office in the Borough Building, and, thus, theres not a lot of mileage involved for work done in New Milford. "Like anyone else," said Ainey, "we want the most for the least amount of dollars."
Lewis reported that the appropriate COG committee met to discuss mileage and, while it has not adopted anything, it is considering a first-hour rate of $36 for work done in any Codes member municipality, with an hourly rate of $25 after the first hour.
Ainey told other council members that COG Codes membership has doubled recently in anticipation of new state codes, and that once the new building code becomes effective, any Codes charges for permits and other work for new construction will be billed directly to the homeowner or contractor and not to the borough, as is current practice.
Lewis also wanted to clarify an item brought up at last months council meeting, which was with what consistency codes are applied to different properties. The item arose because a business owner inquired about it; specifically the business owner was asking about requirements for a handicap ramp.
He said that every ramp would likely be different because there are many things to take into consideration. He mentioned such things as whether, for any particular business, there were wires overhead, how close to a sidewalk an entrance is, how far it is from the street, and other factors. He added that the owner who made the inquiry put up a "Cadillac" of a ramp. "They did a good job, and not because I told them to. They are way up to the codes, and had a good contractor there."
Ainey asked whether there was any kind of documentation, on a permit as to why a certain construction was needed. Lewis said there was not, but that it was a good idea to clear up why such things as a ramp could be different from one owner to another, and that he would start documenting on the permit the reasons why.
Council next discussed the sewage problems with several properties on Montrose Street. A couple of meetings back, COG sewage enforcement officer Duane Wood requested that council approve substandard repair of the problems as a way of giving property owners the most economical way to address the problem temporarily, until the new sewer lines are brought in. Otherwise, at least one owner would need to spend about $20,000 or so to fix the problem.
Members were reluctant to do this because the problems will go away once the pending sewer hook-ups are in. Thus, it accepted Woods recommendation to allow substandard repairs.
Borough secretary Amy Hine noted that the sewer project has gone out to bid, with responses to it due next month.
A good chunk of the meeting was spent discussing the continuing drainage problems on Peck Hill and Cobb Street. A Peck Hill resident was in the audience, and reported that not only is water eroding the property between her drainpipe and the road; its now eroding under the road. She expected a cave-in of the blacktop there to occur as a matter of course.
The resident also said she observed how the water runs down the road and reported that there is no crest in the middle of it to divert water to the sides. Instead, water stays in the middle of it and continues on its way until it reaches her driveway, taking gravel, dirt and a flower bed into a storm sewer. She expected the next thing to make its way into the storm sewer was her drainpipe. "Its not just a problem coming from above the road; its also the road itself. Its a mess," she said.
Various council members discussed past efforts to address the problem. It seems that, early on, there was a ditch up the road that diverted water, but it was later filled in. Ainey explained that the borough dug a ditch there, but found out that they were digging it on private property. It was unclear at the meeting who filled the ditch in.
The resident asked about ways to get the water off the road, into a ditch, and then into her drain pipe, and a lot of discussion ensured as to how to do this. Ainey said that he thought council needed to talk to its attorney again about the issues of the borough going onto private property to see if a ditch could be put in to funnel water down the side of the hill, and it will do that.
Smith noted that the borough would be paving the road at some point (perhaps after the sewer pipes go in), and council would be sure that it is crested. Council member Chris Allen said he would talk with Bob, the boroughs streets foreman, about digging a ditch out from above the problem, and Ainey thought that would just be moving dirt down the hill. The resident who has not been alone in bringing the problem to councils attention thought that perhaps by digging the ditch, it might help to get water off the center of the road and help the situation.
As the resident said, its a mess, and one council will try to alleviate, at least temporarily, by clearing up a current ditch and maintaining it. As Ainey said, "This is not an answer, but a band-aid."
Drainage discussion next focused on Cobb Street which is, basically, a flood plain with a lot of water laying about. Theres nowhere, really, for it to go, because the water table is so high in that area. Both Warren and Smith thought it a good idea to have a Soil and Water or DEP representative come take a look at the situation. Council authorized the Streets Committee to take the action necessary to solve the Cobb Street problem.
And in the last of the drainage issues, Smith reported that some of the curbing is buckling in a corner of the Maple Street bridge. The roadway, however, is not threatened. Bob will be asked to take a look at the bridge, as well as to perhaps clean up the land before the bridge which an audience member said used to be done in the past and which worked.
In other business, Hine has been trying, unsuccessfully, to get in touch with the contractor who is redoing the roof on the borough building. The work should have been done last month, and is still waiting for the finishing.
Warren reported that the organizers of the Senior Citizen Fair are looking to hold the event in New Milford on October 9 or 16. She said its been difficult coordinating the schedules of everyone theyd like to have at the Fair. The Fair is meant to inform senior citizens about the services available to them and to encourage them to use same.
Warren also asked council for money for advertising the fair, and it voted unanimously to appropriate $250 for this expense.
Members next got an answer to a question that was apparently raised at its last work session, and that was which organizations make up the Parks and Recreation Committee for the borough. Hine found 1991 documentation when the committee was organized, and it is composed of the Triplets, the Little League, the borough, and the Blue Ridge School District.
The question was raised, it seems, because it seems that when a group shows up to use it they find a real stinking mess. One member of the group seems to have threatened another group by saying that it was going to lock the bathroom doors and prevent their use. This didnt sit well with Ainey, who also acknowledged that he didnt see anything wrong with telling any group to clean up after itself (a suggestion proposed by council member Jane Zick), especially since the bathrooms are now locked with the pool closed.
Council member Teri Gulick, however, noted that when shes taken the Triplets to the park and unlocked the bathroom facilities, the mess is there and waiting. Warren thought that perhaps a clipboard could be left inside, on which each group would sign the hours of use as well as sign that it left the bathroom clean when finished.
Ainey added that, with the borough having the best recreation facilities in the county, he thought it important that the groups work together. It seems that the group hasnt met at all in the last few years. "Theres no reason why they all cant get together to resolve this problem," said Ainey. "I dont think its a bad idea for them to get together once a year."
And thats how the matter was left.
In its last piece of business, the current tax assessor, after ten years, has decided that she no longer wants the job. Since its so close to election time, the borough will put a notice in the press asking if anyone is interested in becoming a write-in candidate for the position.
The next regular meeting of the New Milford Borough Council is scheduled for October 2, at 7 p.m. in the Borough Building on Main Street.
Threatens Great Bend Parks
For a small town, Great Bend Borough is well endowed with 3 pleasant and well-used parks, and now they are under threat identified by insurers fearful of liability lawsuits.
At the Borough Council meeting on September 4th, Ray Holtzman (who chaired the meeting in the absence of Council President Louise Lonzinski) reported on a tour of the town he took with a representative of the Borough's insurance carrier. The result was a long list of items that the insurance company suggested might help improve the town's resistance to the depredations of lawyers seeking clients who claim injury at municipal facilities, like parks.
The insurer told Mr. Holtzman that, in the event of legal action, the town would be represented, but that coverage might not be enough to deal with a severe adverse judgment. Some of the suggestions made include padding around the basketball stanchions in Memorial Park; at least 4 inches of "fluff" (usually a soft mulch) properly maintained under swings and other playground apparatus; a soft and even border around the basketball court pavement; covering over rough or sharp edges of fencing; and more and better signs defining park rules and regulations. The parks are now posted with signs that say they are closed from "dusk to dawn." Apparently that isn't clear enough. The signs should specify time of day, and should list all activities that are permitted and prohibited. Councilman Joe Collins asked for a copy of the list of items, so that work could begin. It was understood that the Borough really doesn't have the resources to enforce any of the rules, and that things like basketball pole padding would probably disappear very quickly.
The insurer also asked how much the cinder shed cost to build. Curiously, the Borough doesn't seem to have a record of that, and may have to ask the contractor who put it up. Mr. Holtzman was told that the Borough garage was given high marks for cleanliness and order.
Mr. Holtzman also reported that requests have been issued for bids for a new truck, mostly used for plowing and cindering in the winter. One industrial-strength truck drew some attention at a recent show at the Harford Fairgrounds, but it was agreed that something that big wouldn't work well in the Borough, and, besides, it cost $51,000.
Some years ago the state made some funds available to local municipalities to distribute as grants and loans for home improvements. The current mayor and one of the council members have been beneficiaries of the program. Under the program's rules, if a property improved with a grant is sold within 10 years, the money must be paid back. Loans are always paid back, but if the property is sold, the loan comes due immediately. One or two properties in the Borough are in that situation now, and Council will have to figure out how to get the money back.
One or two properties in town have come under scrutiny for severe deterioration. The owners were sent registered letters seeking cleanup within 14 days, or the Borough threatened to take action, perhaps including condemnation. In at least one case, no action has been taken and the 2- week grace period will soon end. Codes Enforcement officer Jeff Burkett was given the go-ahead to take the matter to District Justice Peter Janicelli.
Council went off to an executive session for half and hour to discuss a "personnel issue." When they resumed in public, Mr. Holtzman reported that 2 matters were discussed that he hoped would be resolved within a week. The Borough has only 2 employees, and Alan Grannis had no idea what the discussions might have been about.
And finally, the Borough's attorney, Frank O'Connor, told Council that he had been appointed to the state Supreme Court's Disciplinary Board, a group of 16 people (mostly lawyers) who investigate and recommend actions to discipline members of the legal profession in Pennsylvania.
The Great Bend Borough Council meets on the first Thursday of each month, beginning at 7:00pm, at the Borough Building on Elizabeth Street.
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