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Houtzdale Borough ...
Tuesday, October 12, 2010
Considers camera to deter vandalism
By Wendy B. Lynn Staff Writer
HOUTZDALE - Borough security and police protection topped the Houtzdale Borough Council meeting last night when council discussed installing a surveillance camera somewhere in downtown Houtzdale.
The businesses and residents have been complaining about loitering, vandalism and other issues, especially on Hannah Street. Council President Paul Clancy got a quote for a camera with pan, tilt and zoom features that would be under a protective dome. The camera would be able to "see" up and down the street from wherever it is placed and would have a live feed to a Web site that the Decatur Township police would be able to view. It would also have about 10 hours of recording time.
The cost, from Security Systems of America of Johnstown, would be $3,750.
Council member Tracy Manno expressed concern about purchasing the camera. One concern was that it would just push the problem to other streets. Clancy replied that the private property owners could then call the police, and Manno questioned why the businesses or other people didn't do that now. Another concern Manno had was whether this was something the borough should take on itself. He suggested talking with the business owners on Hannah Street to see if they had other ideas or if they would be willing to help pay the cost of video surveillance.
"Local businesses have every right to get security cameras," he said, adding that if they worked together, and the borough worked with them, the result might be more effective.
After several minutes of discussion, council member John Bumbarger volunteered to talk to the business owners and Manno asked to go with him. They intend to do this before the budget meeting on Oct. 20 so security for the borough can be part of the discussion.
In regard to police protection, Houtzdale is still waiting to see what Osceola Mills is planning to do. It is Houtzdale's understanding that Police Chief Tim O'Leary has the permission of the Decatur Township Supervisors to be making contracts with the three municipalities, which include Chester Hill Borough. It is also Houtzdale council's understanding that it would be a regional police force, but that if the three boroughs each sign a contract with the Decatur Township Police that the police department can then offer the rates being offered now. Otherwise, the cost for coverage would be higher. Each borough would individually contract with the police department.
Code Enforcement Officer Joe Kercenneck reported that the roof of the Swistock building had collapsed, and Clancy added that the second floor had also collapsed, leaving just the shell of the building.
Kercenneck and a local contractor looked at the building and the contractor is concerned that the walls are bowed inward and the building could collapse inward, so council is taking action to see about having the building demolished as soon as possible.
Kercenneck contacted the owner who finally agreed to sign the needed papers. Meanwhile, Clancy attempted to call the county commissioners, state Rep. Camille "Bud" George or borough Solicitor Kim Kesner to see what would happen if the borough had the building demolished immediately, but received no answer.
Council member Jim Love suggested putting Jersey barriers in front of the building to block sidewalk traffic and parking and council agreed.
Kercenneck also said a fence recently erected on Brisbin Street is too close to the curb on Clara Street, which violates the borough setback of 2 feet, and also the property owners should have had a building permit since the fence is 6 feet high. After discussion council agreed to contact Kesner before proceeding because someone should have noticed the fence going up and done something at that time instead of waiting, and now they are not certain of the borough's position in the matter.
Kercenneck said he has the Madigan Building sign in the borough garage and would like to find someone to restore it before it is donated to the museum.
In other business:
•the Houtzdale-Ramey Ambulance Service scheduled the annual Halloween parade for Oct. 30 at 5 p.m. The council scheduled trick-or-treat to follow from 6-8 p.m. Children are reminded to only go to homes where the porch light it lit.
•Manno announced that the Wreck Center Pumpkin Patch Party will be Oct. 27 for children in kindergarten through sixth grade.
•ash and leaf pickup will begin on Friday. Leaves must be bagged and set by the curb.
•work on the library building is currently on hold until the articles of incorporation and other matters are in line. The borough cannot give the money to the board of directors until it has a bank account, and it cannot get the account without its EIN. The contractor, Robertson Construction of Osceola Mills, would like $20,000 to purchase materials, but the borough cannot release that money for the library for fear it would create problems for the library's non-profit status. Since it is a matter of timing, council hopes things will be under way shortly.
•Kim Caldwell of Woodward Township offered to represent the borough at the county Earned Income Tax meetings and council agreed.
The next regular meeting of Houtzdale Borough Council will be Nov. 8 at 6:30 p.m. The next Neighborhood Watch meeting will be Oct. 25 at 6 p.m.
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