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Tamaqua's traffic flow still a pain

Published September 20. 2012 05:01PM

The recent PennDOT project to improve traffic flow through downtown Tamaqua continues to be a thorn in the side of borough leaders and residents.

Police Chief David Mattson brought matters to the attention of borough council at this week's meeting.

"From a police officer's point of view, it has been creating a lot of problems," he said, referring to the new signals that have been installed at the Five Points intersection.

"Trucks have been taking out a pole a week," he said. "We're going to have to continue replacing those poles, at about $2,000 a pole. It will be $96,000 a year if we don't apprehend everyone that goes through there."

Mattson said that frequently, the poles are damaged late at night or in some cases may be hit multiple times, and the police cannot always apprehend the parties responsible for the damage. He added that when the poles are down or damaged, there is an added concern for pedestrians trying to use the intersection safely.

Borough manager Kevin Steigerwalt said that the intersections have been turned over to the borough, however, the project is not quite finished yet.

"Our options are limited," he said, referring to the standard guidelines that PennDOT is using when designing the improvements.

Council President Micah Gursky expressed frustration with the handling of the matter.

"We told PennDOT when they designed it, that they (the poles) would be hit. They are trying to apply federal regulations to an intersection that doesn't meet federal guidelines to begin with."

Council is going to ask state Sen. David Argall and state Rep. Jerry Knowles to assist in making the case to PennDOT for changes in the current design.

Other business

In other matters, Steigerwalt advised council that the deadline for the connection of wildcat sewers had passed.

"There are still 15 properties that must connect," he said. "We expect seven to be completed within the next week or two and three more to be completed by late September, early October."

Steigerwalt said that those properties had been discovered later in the process.

"There are six property owners who have made no effort or not responded to the letters," he said. "Those will be forwarded to the borough's code enforcement officers for action."

Steigerwalt said that violation of the borough's sewer ordinance can carry a fine of up to $600 per day.

Council announced there will be a safety initiative meeting for concerned citizens and business owners who reside or own property in the area of Center, Railroad, and Pine streets on Nov. 8.

"We're engaging property owners and businesses in that corridor because we have seen an increase in crime over the last few years," said Gursky.

Council addressed two dilapidated properties on Gay Street that have been brought to their attention by concerned citizens.

"Josh Esposito, the borough's code enforcement officer, feels that 208 Gay St. is definitely the worse property that he has seen," said Steigerwalt. "We're going to make another attempt to contact the owner and give them a week to respond. If that doesn't pan out, we may need to look at that as a demolition project in the near future."

The properties at 133-35 Gay St. need to be secured and have the grass cut.

Mattson asked council to consider developing a pawnshop/second hand store ordinance that would help police to identify when and if individuals were trying to pawn or sell stolen goods. The ordinance could address how long shops must hold merchandise and require them to ask for ID from patrons.

Mayor Christian Morrison asked the borough to consider developing and adopting a Quality of Life Ordinance. After the meeting, Morrison explained that such an ordinance would help speed up the process by which complaints like high grass and dilapidated properties could be addressed.

"This would give the police department the ability to cite you, write a ticket, just like a parking ticket," he said. "The current enforcement process is cumbersome."

In other business council:

• Approved the transfer of Randy Clemson from the water department to the water treatment plant for a 30-day trial period. Council accepted the resignation due to retirement of Joseph Coleman, effective Aug. 28.

• Property at 311 Orwigsburg St. was sold to David R. Faenza for $3,000.

• Approved a motion to advertise for the sale of 223 Pine St. with a minimum bid of $50,000.

• Discussed the sale of the Tamaqua Community Center. According to council there had been one interested party, however, the offer was too low and council was not considering it.

• Approved a proposal from Dave's Lawn Care for the cleanup and annual maintenance of the North Railroad Street parking lot.

• Received $182,381.59 in state aid toward the funding of the minimum municipal obligation for the police and nonuniformed pension fund. The borough is still responsible for $100,290.40.

• Approved a resolution urging the state to "modernize the state prevailing wage act." The proposed changes would raise the current threshold of $25,000 to $183,000, to account for inflation and then continue to adjust the amount annually based on the consumer price index. The current $25,000 standard was enacted in 1963.

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