The Honesdale Borough Council faces a crossroads next Monday night.
At this week's meeting, the council decided to wait a week to take up the issue of the CVS project. (We have a very detailed story on page 1 of today's newspaper.)
If one thing can be said about Monday night's meeting, it is there was a lot of healthy discussion.
But it seems clear the right path for the borough is to delay this entire situation until the 4th and Main street intersection is designed correctly.
Some think the proposal by CVS is adequate. But others say it just won't work.
Those others include the borough's hired engineer, the chairmen of the safety and road committees, the director of public works and the police chief.
It would appear those people have some expertise in this area.
In particular, the director of public works and the police chief see the dysfunction of the intersection every day.
Both said they think it would be best if the intersection were reconfigured so that trucks can make the right-hand turn from Main Street to 4th Street.
One of the biggest debates seems to be the process by which such projects are handled.
Mary Bogart, the borough's engineer, made it clear recently that since the borough owns the traffic permit at the intersection, it holds all the cards.
Mayor Ed Langendoerfer said he thinks the borough should make it clear to CVS what it wants and then ask them for that solution. He also said nothing should be approved by the borough until there is approval by PennDOT.
Council members Harry DeVrieze and Bob Jennings said they agree.
They are right.
During the discussion Monday night, councilman Scott Smith questioned whether the borough indeed has the final say in the matter. He indicated that since it's a state highway, PennDOT makes the final decision.
But Smith then contradicted himself when he said the intersection plans come to the borough, then have to go to PennDOT and then back to the borough for final approval.
That gives the borough the final say.
It is true that CVS already has a plan approved by PennDOT. That plan would add a third lane to Main Street and then change the configuration of 4th Street.
The borough engineer says this simply won't work, or work well, at least.
She also pointed out it received PennDOT approval mainly because the intersection would be no worse with the changes.
The problem is, Honesdale has a chance right now to get this intersection fixed properly once and for all.
Page 2 of 3 - That is huge.
One major point which has to be considered here was brought up by business owner Paul Ludick, who noted that CVS is a $58 billion corporation.
That means they are very successful and shrewd when it comes to business decisions.
They don't toss a dart at some wall and decide where to locate a new store. A lot of extensive research and planning goes into these decisions.
They also consider the financial impacts and that means the bottom line. CVS did not decide to locate the store at 4th and Main so it would lose money. They most certainly determined there is money to be made — likely more than at their current location.
That means they want this project to happen. Delaying it for a time is not going to hurt CVS. So who will it hurt?
That may be the key question to ask in all of this controversy.
What is the rush?
It would seem the chances of CVS pulling out of this project are very slim. They want this store and they want it at that location.
That means the borough should do the right thing and get this intersection done properly. It will impact thousands and thousands of people and should be done right the first time.
If it is not done right, area residents will pay for years to come. There is a chance of that happening if the borough goes ahead with a plan put forth by CVS to sign an agreement which essentially approves the intersection not designed properly.
That is a risk which the borough simply should not take.
Those advocating for doing the intersection the right way keep asking what is the rush and they are simply not getting the answers.
Smith said CVS wants the deal done by the end of the year for budgeting purposes. That may be true, but it's hard to imagine one store project of a $58 billion company is really going to upset the apple cart.
The other lesson in this is that Smith, and all of the members of the council, work for the residents of Honesdale, not CVS. Any decision which is made must be in the best interests of the residents.
It seems pretty evident that most people want to see the CVS project completed — and done correctly. It's hard to imagine anyone is clamoring for the project to get completed next month.
It's been two years since the issue first arose and it's asinine to think waiting a little longer could make any difference at all.
In fact, the only difference it will make is positive because residents will get a well designed intersection that could actually improve traffic flow for years, even generations, to come.
Page 3 of 3 - For longtime residents, that is something worth waiting for.