Lansford officials approved a business's request for benches outside its store, but asked that the company returns the one bench it took from the borough park without permission.
During Lansford's Borough Council meeting on Wednesday, council members discussed a request, sent by Edward Kanick, owner of Sharpes News Agency on Ridge Street, on Jan. 27, asking that council again address his request to have one or two park benches in front of the store.
On Dec. 30, 2010, council extended the special exemption and allowed Sharpes News Agency to maintain the benches that are currently in front of the store. The extension was given to allow council time to research borough ordinances and determine if benches would violate the ordinance.
Council discussed the matter extensively on Wednesday, citing that the borough solicitor said that the ordinance states no benches should be on the sidewalks, obstructing walkways; but that council could act on it on a case-by-case basis.
Councilwoman Mary Kruczek said she thought council should maintain what is in place and not allow new benches but act on it on a case-by-case basis.
Councilwoman Rose Mary Cannon added that the benches in question are the borough's park benches and she felt that the borough should be reimbursed for them or the company should return them to where they got them.
Don Gildea, a resident, stated that Sharpes got approved for one bench and that only one of the two benches at the store are borough-owned. The second bench was made by store officials.
Cannon stated that council never approved the store to take a bench out of a borough park like it did. The bench was formerly located on the west end of Lansford near the entrance to the swimming pool.
Councilman Lenny Kovach said, "You just can't go down and take something of the borough's. That is stealing borough property. That's what everyone is having a problem on with this request. They went down and stole borough property."
Again the argument was raised by Gildea that the borough had given the store approval to have one bench.
Council President Adam Webber said that yes they were approved for a bench, but it was supposed to be supplied by the store owner, not the borough.
After much discussion, Councilwoman Danielle Smith made a motion to approve Sharpes News Agency be allowed to have two benches outside the store for a period of one year. The vote tied at 3-3.
Webber then said that he would change his vote from oppose to approve because further explanation made it clear that the second bench was not borough-owned. As a result of the change, the motion passed 4-2 with Councilman Tommy Vadyak and Mayor Ron Hood absent.
Following the vote, a second motion was made by Councilman Andy Snyder stating that council serve Kanick a letter asking that the borough-owned bench be returned to the location it came from in the park. The motion passed unanimously.
Kovach then said, "I want it on the record if anyone else takes a bench out of our parks or playground area they will be prosecuted."
In other borough matters, area resident and bar owner Jesse Hiles approached the board about improper paving along West Ridge Street and Snyder Avenue.
He explained that because of the paving, water now pours into his home and business, the Sports Zoo, when it rains, and has caused damage to floors in the buildings.
Hiles added that something needs to be done because it has been happening for years.
Council members talked about the situation and said that finances is the issue and they don't know if something could be done immediately to fix the problem.
Hiles said he hopes it can because he doesn't want to proceed with a lawsuit. If the borough corrects the problem, Hiles said he would not worry about recouping the time and money he spent so far on it.
Councilwoman Danielle Smith made a motion to see what work could be done in-house to fix the problem. They would then proceed as funds become available. The motion passed.