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Wayne Independent - Honesdale, PA
  • Coal pocket issue discussed

  • The Honesdale Borough Council meeting Monday night brought with it discussion of how to deal with the coal pockets.
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  • The Honesdale Borough Council meeting Monday night brought with it discussion of how to deal with the coal pockets. During the report from the Streets Committee, the issue surrounding the coal pockets and the back rent owed on the property. A letter from the Delaware, Lackawaxen, and Stourbridge Railroad Company (DLS) addressed to Council President F.J. Monaghan, outlines the terms the DLS would need to assume ownership of the property. The correspondence shows that the DLS is acting under the authority of the Stourbridge Railroad Company (SBRR) and that the agreement between "the Borough of Honesdale and the SBRR, dated June 30, 1988, for the property known as the Coal Pockets," has been reviewed. In the original agreement, the letter says that the "terms of use" for the property show that the borough "is to pay the SBRR 20 percent" of the fees collected from parking permits, "plus $500 per year fee" for the crossing a Torrey Lane. The DLS continues to state that the organization cannot find any documentation to show the agreement for the $500 fee for Torrey Lane, the DLS "is in agreement" that that fee "was abolished a number of years back" and is currently not in question. This letter also touches on the obligation to the SBRR for back rent. The DLS says they agree with the totals listed "for the years 2009 through 2012," but think the calculations used "to determine back rent due" from Jan. 1 through July 15 of this year "are not correct." The borough shows an estimate of 30 parking permits for the 7 and-one-half month period on the first page submitted to the DLS. This total conflicts with "a real number of 55" spots listed a page later. With that, the DLS says they believe the gross revenue for the parking spots on the SBRR property "to be $10,843 for the seven-and-a-half months it was used by the borough." This brings the total amount due to the SBRR for this year to $2,168.60. The total amount owed to the SBRR for the entire period of back rent, from Jan. 1, 2009 to July 15, 2013, is $17,575.08. Property condition The letter to council continues to dissect the original agreement, including the portion that states the borough is obligated to "maintain the property in good order." The DLS states they inspected the area in question in May, and "found that the maintenance of the parking and road surface to be deficient," and will require repairs. The estimate cost to repair the damage "to good order" is $4,000. This updates the previous amount of $17,575.08 to a new total of $21,575.08. The DLS says that once that amount is "remitted to the DLS," the 25 year long agreement would close. Council member Bob Jennings said during discussion that "at least three-fourths of that is privately owned, why should we maintain it?" He added that he feels a fair price to pay to close out the original agreement is the withheld back rent, plus $500 to be put toward repairs. Council member Scott Smith disagreed with Jennings, saying that "the majority is owned by the railroad," and that the borough is responsible for it and that the $4,000 for repairs was a reasonable estimate for the work that needed to be completed. After an original motion was made by Jennings to pay DLS a total of $18,075.08, Smith requested the amount be split in two. One amount, totaling $17,575.08, was voted unanimously to be paid for the back rent. The $500 amount, designated for the repairs to the property, passed with Monaghan and Smith voting against it. Police promotions Also up for discussion was the promotion of two employees in the Honesdale Police Department. Jennings made a motion, at the request of Honesdale Borough Police Commissioner Richard Southerton, "to appoint Sergeant Sean LeStrange to the position of acting lieutenant" and "to appoint Patrolman Keith Columbo to the position of acting sergeant." The motion continued to state that both of the aforementioned officers "shall be compensated at the elevated ranks retroactive to Aug. 15, 2013." The total retroactive amount for LeStrange, including buy back of vacation time is $362.88. The total for Columbo is $367.92. The motion passed unanimously. One-way streets The issue of whether or not to return Church and Main Street in the borough back to two lane traffic resurfaced. Jennings said that to present information from PennDOT, including the Bogart Accident Analysis, he requested a special meeting. In the motion, other items to be discussed include the study of borough traffic patterns "as part of a formal request of PennDOT to approve and authorize a return of conventional two-way traffic patterns on Main and Church Streets in Honesdale." The special meeting was requested to be held Nov. 20 at 2 p.m. at Borough Hall.

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