— Trying to resolve issues related to the new CVS pharmacy in Honesdale was the subject of a meeting on Tuesday.
The meeting, however, was not advertised even though a quorum of borough council members were present.
Those present were F.J. Monaghan, Scott Smith, Bob Jennings and Jim Brennan. The meeting was held at borough hall with representatives of CVS, its development company and local developers who have a stake in the outcome.
Monaghan opened the meeting by saying no action would be taken because "any decisions would be inappropriate."
Though no votes were taken, at the end of the meeting there was consensus among those in attendance about certain steps which should be taken in moving forward.
"I am disappointed that the public was not informed," said Mayor Ed Langendoerfer, who was not present at the meeting. Langendoerfer said he was not informed the meeting was taking place and only learned about it from this newspaper.
"They need to let the public know what is going on," said the mayor. "The whole intersection is going to change."
The main focus of the meeting concerned the new traffic flow which will be created when the pharmacy is opened. The location is at 4th and Main streets in Honesdale, arguably the busiest intersection in all of Wayne County.
Frank Villanti, an engineer representing CVS, said the plans to change the intersection were submitted to PennDOT and have received approval.
However, final approval must be given by the borough and that's where the safety committee has a problem.
Safety committee chairman Jennings pointed out it was PennDOT which approved the original intersection and it remains dysfunctional to this day.
"They are the monster in this," said Jennings.
Page 2 of 5 - The plan by CVS would be to add a center lane to Main street heading east toward where CVS is going to be located. It would also mean that center lane would be for motorists to proceed straight through to the new CVS building.
As for Fourth Street, they are proposing putting "stop bar" further back toward the railroad tracks for northbound traffic. Those are lines painted on the road where vehicles are supposed to stop.
Mary Bogart, an engineer hired by the borough, said she thinks the plan will not work.
She says even with the new configuration, tractor-trailers will still have to cross the double yellow line and will also be jumping the curb at the intersection, something which happens now.
"The whole idea of the trucks jumping the curb is not acceptable," said Bogart.
Jennings then produced photographs which were taken during a staging conducted recently involving a tractor-trailer with help from the police department. Jennings said the tests were ran with a Fox Ledge Water Company truck which is the largest allowable on the roadways. Similar trucks use the intersection every day, he said.
"We were guiding him as close as we could," said Jennings.
Jennings said it took part of what is proposed as the center lane for the truck to be able to turn.
They also tested what Jennings said is the new right lane and, even guiding the truck, he said it was up against the curb.
"In my opinion, we have to have more room on that right hand side," said Jennings. "There is just so much traffic there. It is going to be a nightmare under your plan."
Villanti disagreed, saying the photos were deceptive. He claims with the changes on Main Street, the right lane will actually have more room than it does now.
Page 3 of 5 - But Bogart said even with the drawings supplied by CVS, there are still problems.
She said that template shows trucks will still have to cross the double-yellow line or trucks will be jumping the curb.
Jennings agreed, adding he thinks the stop bars will not work anyway.
Villanti said in "urban environments," stop bars are commonly used so that larger vehicles can navigate intersections.
"In the real world," countered Bogart, "if someone does not see the stop bar, you potentially shut down the intersection."
"It is still better than what it is today," said Villanti about the new proposal.
Jennings said that doesn't make it right because the current intersection does not work well and was approved by PennDOT.
For Jennings, there is a simple solution.
"You have room on the right hand side," said Jennings. "Do it and solve the problem."
To do that, it would mean cutting into the parking lot of the Meagher Agency to make the corner wider.
"What's the problem?" said Jennings. "Work out something."
Smith asked what the state said about the new design.
Bogart said the state did give approval, however, "the final say" is with the borough.
"That is not entirely true," said Smith.
"Yet it is," said Bogart.
At that point, developer Tom Shepstone stepped into the conversation, saying something can be worked out.
"Let's do a test and see what works," said Shepstone.
Page 4 of 5 - Mary Ann Wervey of the Zaremba Group of Cleveland, Ohio, which represents CVS, said it was their intention to explore all of the possibilities.
"We want to give our design a chance to work," said Wervey.
Borough solicitor Rich Henry said Shepstone's suggestion is "doable." He also agreed with Bogart, saying the borough has the final say in the matter.
"The borough is the holder of the traffic signal permit," said Bogart.
That, she said, means unless the borough gives its approval, nothing moves forward.
"We made a good faith agreement with you," said Shepstone.
It was suggested an agreement be drawn up between the borough and CVS in which an escrow account would be established. That account would have funds to change the intersection if the new design does not work. The engineers will work together to come up with a cost estimate for the escrow account.
According to Wervey, that agreement would have to include a clause that the borough is responsible for any and all improvements required from the widening of the truck radius.
She also suggested that the cost estimate be determined by the CVS engineering firm subject to the approval of Bogart Engineering.
Henry said some sort of time period would have to be part of the agreement.
Smith suggested one year, saying, "I want a full summer" to see how it works because summers are the busiest time of the year."
Jennings emphasized he is all for having a new CVS in Honesdale but wants to make sure the traffic patterns are solved.
"It's the traffic situation I'm worried about," said Jennings.
The mayor, in an interview after the meeting, said he thinks more parties should have been involved in discussing the issue. He pointed out there is an insurance agency, a body shop and other businesses in the area.
Page 5 of 5 - The school district, too, should have been approached, he said. Langendoerfer said school buses travel through that intersection daily and that has to be a consideration on any new configuration.
The issue will once again be discussed at the Dec. 10 meeting of the borough council where several approvals will have to be made by the council for the project to proceed.
Angela Franklin, representing CVS Realty Co., said those approvals are necessary in order to close the real estate deal by Dec. 21, something she said they would like to get done.