Resident vocal about police issue

The regular meeting of the Honesdale Borough Council was standing room only Monday night. One item of heavy discussion was a presentation given by Director of the Wayne County Department of Planning Ed Coar regarding the Route 6 Heritage Corridor. Coar led a discussion with council about what designating Route 6 in Honesdale a Scenic Byway would mean for the borough and the community. The Route 6 Alliance is pushing for the designation, mainly because of the positive economic impacts the designation can have. "The Route 6 Alliance is in the process of trying to designate Route 6 a Scenic Byway," Coar said. "The designation would make the highway an 'All-American Highway,' and is a type of scenic byway." He said the section up for designation is 427 miles long, including United States Route 6 north. This section has 11 counties in the northern tier region of Pennsylvania and covers 110 municipalities. "There are three designated tourism regions: Pennsylvania Great Lakes, Pennsylvania Wilds and Upstate Pennsylvania," he said. He added that Route 6 is already considered a driving destination by National Geographic Traveler, Car and Driver Magazine, and Harley Davidson. Coar continued by saying that over the course of one year, 3.5 million tourists visit sites along Route 6. The average number of people per party is three and those travelers stay an average of three nights. "Thirty-three percent of the visitors are from out of state, and 55 percent are first time visitors," he said. "The total direct visitor spending is $91 million annually, and supports 2,172 jobs." How to designate Coar said there are three steps to designate a section of Route 6 a part of the Route 6 Heritage Corridor. First, the section must be designated as a Pennsylvania Byway, either by legislation or by a grass root local municipal application. The second step is to develop a Corridor Management Plan. The final step is to submit an application to the Federal Highways Administration. In the Commonwealth, a byway can be any public road that is state or locally maintained. "The byways are designated by PennDOT," Coar added. He also said that while the plan does bring benefits, including tourism dollars, there are disadvantages to the designation as well. "I want all the municipalities to know all the facts before making a decision," he said. "The only way I would be involved is if there was full disclosure with everyone aware of the advantages and disadvantages." On factor council must chew on is the local commitment involved in making such a designation. With the designation, the municipality would take responsibility for "protective measures to preserve the scenic, historic, recreational, cultural, and natural integrity of the byway and adjacent area as identified in the corridor management plan." What are the issues "A lot of municipalities aren't signing up because of the disadvantages," he said. Coar added that since the program was presented in April, "Out of the 110 municipalities, only 22 have signed up." One factor is there would be more regulation of private lands and more responsibilities for local governments to manage land uses. "Elected officials must also commit, by a resolution, their intent to uphold the designation," Coar said. The Pennsylvania Route 6 Alliance is also asking municipalities to participate as a stakeholder in the developing a Corridor Management Plan. "The municipality is taking on more of a management role then you currently are," Coar said. Citizen input The citizen participation portion of the meeting was vocal and included a donation from a local DJ and remarks regarding the ongoing police situation. Borough resident and former council member Leroy Spoor spoke regarding the procedure surrounding the hiring of the police commissioner. Spoor opened by saying that he "was one of those 700 people some of you people swept under the table as a minority, which I took offense too." The 700 refers to the number of signatures gathered, and presented to council, asking council to reconsider its decision to not to hire a police chief. Spoor said his main reason for speaking to council was regarding procedure. "I am still trying to figure out in my thick head how the council advertised for a police chief and ended up with a police commissioner," Spoor said. He added that the process surrounding the hiring of Police Commissioner Rick Southerton was "unethical" and "wrong." Spoor remarked that if council wanted to create the position of police commissioner, that council does have that right. "If you want to create a police commissioner position, create one." He closed by saying "When I hear people poking fun at Honesdale, it hurts me and should hurt anyone who takes pride in their town," and that council should "board the same train and bring the town back to the right direction." Another former member council spoke during public comment, this time to present current council with a donation. Nick Slish presented council with a check for $940 raised by the fundraiser Rock For Recreation. The check was presented to be used to help fund the construction of a skateboarding park in Honesdale. The conclusion of the Honesdale Borough meeting will appear in tomorrow's edition of The Wayne Independent.