A request from a Tamaqua resident to vacate an unimproved section of Union Street was denied by Tamaqua Borough Council earlier this week. Louis Yelito, who owns properties 303 and 305 Washington Street, requested that the section of Union Street between the two properties, which is currently an overgrown, wooded area, be vacated between Washington Street and a paved area along Pleasant Row that is currently used as a turn-around area for residents.
Yelito, who also owns property along Pleasant Row, said that he has owned the properties for about five and a half years and has been steadily making improvements to them, in addition to maintaining the lot. He has also erected a fence along part of the area that he requested be vacated. According to borough manager, Kevin Steigerwalt, the previous owner of the property had placed a carport on that same property, and Yelito was essentially "grandfathered" when he replaced the carport with the fence.
Yelito's request did not sit well with several residents in the area who objected to the vacating of the street because it is used as a pedestrian thoroughfare between Washington Street and the downtown area. Alan Kerr, who lives in the area, presented a petition signed by approximately 20 local residents who objected to the request. Kerr also said that since Yelito has erected the fence, it has cut off the public's access through the area. "People used to walk down to the Italian bakery, to go down to the railroad station. It is used. He can say it's not used now because there's a fence there," said Kerr.
Several other residents complained that since the fence has been up, kids who used to cut through that area are now walking through other peoples' private property and doing damage.
Councilman Brian Connely raised the issue of the borough's utility lines running under the property. Steigerwalt also said that there is a hydrant located nearby. There was also the question of ownership of steps coming down from Washington Street that may or may not be on borough property. After council unanimously denied the request for vacating the street, Steigerwalt said that the borough will need to look at possibly surveying the area to determine the exact boundaries of the borough property, including easements and public thoroughfares.