A wide variety of topics were discussed at Monday's Honesdale Borough council meeting, ranging from the one-way streets to the hiring of a police chief.
— A wide variety of topics were discussed at Monday's Honesdale Borough council meeting, ranging from the one-way streets to the hiring of a police chief.
The street discussion took on many forms, including public comments and a motion from a council member which was eventually withdrawn.
A few members of the public first spoke about the issue of the streets during the public comment period.
Both Main and Church streets were converted to one-way around three years ago. A committee was formed last year to look at the possibility of converting the streets back to two-way traffic.
Ed Krause of Narrowsburg, N.Y., told the council he has had several close calls because of the conversion of the streets. Krause said his daughter lives in Bethany and he travels frequently in Honesdale.
He also said the crosswalks are very dangerous and said he was almost hit recently coming from Central Park following a concert.
Local resident Stan Pratt said he has voiced his "concern" about the crosswalks being in the wrong place. He said they are on the wrong side of the intersections.
He told the council they need to "take a serious look at this."
Local resident Jerry Theobald said he thinks the council needs to "take a more aggressive stance" when it comes to the current situation.
He pointed out the speed minders work very well and thinks the borough needs to have several of them along both streets.
He also pointed out there is "very little signage" coming into Honesdale and thinks that would be very beneficial.
Later in the meeting, councilman Bob Jennings, chairman of the safety committee, also brought up the subject of the streets. Jennings is part of the ad-hoc committee which has been studying the issue.
Members of that committee include Jennings, councilman Jim Brennan, councilwoman Juania Pisano, engineer Mary Bogart, Bill McAllister, Joe McConnell of the Greater Honesdale Partnership, Tom Shepstone of Shepstone Management and solicitor Rich Henry.
Jennings said in April of this year he contacted A New Era Security in Waymart about placing cameras in strategic locations to monitor the traffic flow. The company agreed and has provided free video taping since that time.
He also said a traffic study has been conducted as has research by the Honesdale Police Department.
Jennings has publicly said he would like to see the streets reverted back to two-way traffic.
On Monday, Jennings then made a motion regarding the issue.
It read: "I move to authorize the Borough Council traffic committee charged with study of borough traffic patterns to commence formal request of PennDOT to approve and authorize return of conventional two-way traffic patterns on Main and Church Streets in Honesdale Borough and to take any and all preliminary action necessary to accomplish this conversion."
The motion was seconded by councilwoman Juanita Pisano.
"We can't turn that traffic from one-way to two-way," said Brennan, a member of the ad-hoc committee who was not aware the motion was going to be made.
Councilman Harry DeVrieze also questioned the motion, saying it specifically says "approve and authorize a return of conventional two-way traffic ..."
Councilman Scott Smith said he thinks the council should be able to view the data which has been collected before making any decisions.
"We have seen nothing," said Smith.
Jennings said the reports have not been compiled.
Brennan said he thought the motion was premature, saying it is the committee which should be making a recommendation to the full council for consideration.
Solicitor Henry, who had prepared the motion on behalf of Jennings, suggested he withdraw the motion until at least the next meeting. He also suggested the committee have a public meeting to discuss the issue.
Jennings agreed and withdrew the motion from consideration.
Mayor Ed Langendoerfer, during the reports portion of the meeting, raised questions about how the process is going to work with the new police chief.
Last week, the council voted to hire Rick Southerton, a former FBI agent, as the new chief.
However, Southerton is not yet certified through the state of Pennsylvania and the mayor says that means he will be an administrative chief as opposed to a working chief.
"What is the timetable for the police chief?" asked the mayor.
Council president F.J. Monaghan said Southerton still has to go in front of the Civil Service Commission.
He said once that happens, the council will then either call a special meeting to hire Southerton or wait until the next regular council meeting, which will be Oct. 14.
Langendoerfer also asked what "capacity" Southerton would serve in as chief.
Monaghan said that still has to be determined by the council.
In a related matter, the Civil Service Commission requested up to $1,000 to retain Mike Miller of Eckert Seamans Cherin & Mellot, LLC as legal counsel. It was noted that Miller provided services in 2012 for the revisions to the rules and regulations.
The council voted 7-0 to approve the funding.
After the meeting, commission member Bill McAllister was asked why they were seeking funds.
McAllister said it was to "clarify" the exact "role" of the commission.
Generally, the commission does an interview of the potential chief and then recommends that person to the full council.
However, that could be in question in this case as McAllister said last week he feels this matter may be different.
He cited the fact there have been a lot of closed-door meetings about the situation and felt the commission might have to take that into consideration.
The commission has scheduled a meeting date for Sept. 20. The commission meets at 1 p.m. at borough hall.
During another portion of the meeting, Brennan read a prepared statement saying he did not like an editorial which appeared in The Wayne Independent in our edition last Saturday.
Brennan said he was "very disappointed" with the editorial, which was about the police chief situation.
He said the editorial "implied" the council made its decision based on 15-minute interviews conducted with each of the nine candidates last week.
Brennan said the council members had resumes in advance from all of the candidates. He did say the council spent 15 minutes personally interviewing each candidate.
He said he made the motion to hire Southerton because he was the "most qualified" candidate.
Some of the reasons he cited were the fact Southerton has a master's degree, had 24 years with the FBI, was a sergeant in the Marine Corps and has "strong family values."
Brennan went on to say there were "no secret meetings or underhanded deals" when choosing the chief.
(Note: We'll have more on Monday's meeting in our next edition.)