— A discussion at the Honesdale Borough council meeting on Monday revealed at least one fire department vehicle was operating illegally.
The matter arose during a report from the borough's safety committee.
A recent move by the borough would place the responsibility for licensing and insuring fire vehicles on the four fire companies. Previously, the insurance and titling of the vehicles has been with the borough.
Safety committee chairman Bob Jennings read a motion which proposed to adopt a resolution authorizing the council president to "transfer the registration of the following apparatus to the appropriate volunteer fire company" of the borough of Honesdale:
• 2004 Freightliner to Hose Company No. 1
• 1994 Sutphen to Alert Hook and Ladder Company No. 2
• 2005 Scotty to Honesdale Volunteer Fire Department
• 1998 Car mate (foam trailer) to Honesdale Volunteer Fire Department
• Fire Safety Trailer to Honesdale Volunteer Fire Department
• 1991 International to Honesdale Fireman's Relief Association
• 1993 Pierce to Protection Engine Company No. 3
But assistant fire chief Brian Dulay questioned the move, saying the fire department is an "arm" of the borough and should be treated like any other department.
In fact, he said the fire department technically "does not exist" and the borough does have the responsibilities.
But finance committee chairman Scott Smith disagreed, saying the council had voted to allot all of the fire department money to the individual companies which would mean they would be responsible for licensing and insuring the vehicles.
Jennings said it was his understanding that at least one fire vehicle was operating illegally because it had an expired registration.
Dulay said there could possibly be more vehicles with expired registrations. He contends the borough should be registering the vehicles. But Smith and borough secretary Judy Poltanis both said the responsibility now lies with the fire departments.
Dulay disagreed, saying the matter still is in the hands of the borough and they should be responsible for registrations of the vehicles.
Dulay told the council members that although the fire chief had said it was alright to move forward with the changes, there are others who need to be consulted.
He pointed out that each fire company has a board of directors, which includes a president, and they need to be consulted on the matter.
"We must get this settled," said council president F.J. Monaghan.
Councilman Harry DeVrieze said he thought having a fire truck operating illegally was a liability to the borough and he made a motion that any vehicles not registered be taken out of service immediately.
Page 2 of 4 - But Honesdale Borough Police Chief Joe LoBasso said the council should be "cautious" before making such a decision, citing public safety.
"They can be registered online tomorrow," said LoBasso.
The chief also pointed out that because they are municipal vehicles, there is no charge for the registration.
Monaghan suggested that any vehicles not registered be brought into compliance the next day. He also said the council members need to get with the administrators of each of the four fire companies to come up with some type of resolution.
The original motion for the resolution was withdrawn until further information can be obtained.
Parks and Recreation chairman Mike Slish had several items during the meeting.
He said the hiring process for lifeguards at the pool needs to begin soon.
Slish said a pool manager will be hired first and then that person and Slish will make recommendations to the full council about hiring lifeguards.
He also made a motion to give $400 to the Wayne County Library's Honesdale branch to help in their remodeling project.
Also, Slish said he is still working on ideas to do upgrades to the Central Park playground.
Slish said "one of the goals" is to make the playground more handicapped accessible.
He did say that one of the "concerns" he has heard from some people is if there is a major expansion of the play area, "the footprint would take away from the beauty of the park."
Slish said one idea which is being considered is making a "themed" play area focusing on trains.
He also is looking at the possibility of installing some "smaller items" at the park. Slish has looked at items from the company "Neos," which specializes in electronic equipment.
Slish said there are games which can be purchased that don't take up a lot of space but would be enjoyable to the youth.
"We are just looking at ideas," said Slish, who added they are "focusing on Central Park."
If anyone has ideas they are urged to contact borough hall.
Monaghan opened the meeting by saying the controversial CVS project is "finally under way."
Monaghan said CVS officials have told him it "should be completed by this fall."
A fence has been installed around the property at 4th and Main streets and removal of asbestos has taken place, he said.
Demolition on the project should be starting in the near future.
This Sunday, he said the Honesdale Fire Department will be doing training exercises inside the building. Monaghan expressed "gratitude" to CVS for allowing the exercises to take place.
Page 3 of 4 - There was no update given on the process which is happening to reconfigure the intersection associated with the CVS project.
Input was also given by citizens concerning the one-way streets in Honesdale.
Recently, an ad-hoc committee conducted a public meeting which was well attended by residents.
The committee was formed when some people voiced concerns about the one-way streets in Honesdale. Both Main and Church streets were made one-way two years ago.
Mike Jones, owner of Northeast Firearms on Main Street, has been outspoken against the one-way streets.
Jones said he has had the store since 1984 and he is "not for" the one-way streets.
He presented traffic count figures from PennDOT and said he believes downtown businesses are losing money because people are not stopping because of the one-way streets.
Jones said that during the peak eight hours of the day, around 5,000 cars travel down Main Street. He said that if just 10 percent of those cars stopped, that would be $500.
He went on to say that if someone in each of those vehicles spent an average of $20, that would be $10,000 per day into the downtown economy. That totals $1.1 million a year, he said.
"I think you guys are giving up a million dollars a year," said Jones.
He also cited safety concerns as a reason he thinks the streets need changed back to two way.
Monaghan also read a letter from resident Lori McKee who said she is very concerned about the one-way traffic.
McKee said drivers go too fast, especially on Church Street, and she is "looking elsewhere for residence" because of the streets.
In other business:
• Resident Louis Bishop, who lives on Grove Street, questioned the council about a water drainage problem he has been experiencing for quite some time.
He said the solution by the state was wrong in the first place.
"The whole thing is up in the air," said councilman Jim Brennan.
But Brennan said a major factor concerning the problem is it is "not on borough property."
Brennan said it was the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection which authorized the project.
"The state created the solution that didn't work," said Brennan.
Several members of the council said they would go back up to Bishop's property, talk with him and then draft a letter to DEP based on that conversation.
• The council authorized use of the pool parking lot on May 11 for a mock disaster to be conducted by local emergency management personnel. The disaster will be at the fairgrounds and the parking lot will be used as a staging area.
Page 4 of 4 - • Finance committee chairman Scott Smith reported that former zoning officer Wayne Early is stopping his COBRA insurance policy through the borough.
• Smith also reported that paperwork for the anchor building project has been sent to the state for approval. Once obtained, Smith said a final contract will be ironed out with developers Smith & Morris.
• A brief discussion was held concerning the pending forensic audit.
Smith said he was still waiting on a firm date from the auditing firm.
Jennings said it is his understanding there is a specific person who auditors want to interview and that person is currently in an area nursing home.
Jennings said he would personally take the auditors up to the nursing home and make formal introductions.
"Then I will leave," said Jennings.
• Mayor Ed Langendoerfer said he continues to be concerned that some borough residents don't realize they can do single-stream recycling through the borough's department of public works.
• The council voted 7-0 to hire Raymond Kuehner, Jr., as a part-time police officer.
• The council approved spending $850 with Lackawanna College for arranging civil service testing. Smith said they are now getting bids for advertising for the exams and applications will be due by April 15.