PHILIPSBURG — A Philipsburg Borough official openly denounced the borough’s code enforcement officer and borough crew after she learned they assisted a resident — who happens to be her neighbor — with a property task.
At the recent Philipsburg Borough Council meeting, Councilwoman Sharon Goss said the borough removed railroad ties from her neighbor’s sidewalk on Curtis Street. Goss wanted to know if the neighbor was given a warning about the railroad ties, or if a discussion was had on the matter — stating the objects had rebar and a 12-inch spike sticking out of them.
Code Enforcement Officer Tim Ryder said the neighbor was told about the matter and since that the property owner was an “ill man” they decided to move them out of the way.
“I didn’t expect him to be able to pick up the ties,” Ryder said.
“It is not the borough’s responsibility to be caretaker of someone’s personal property,” Goss responded. “His railroad ties are falling into my side yard. The guys from the borough refused to take them today when they took the ones that rolled out onto the sidewalk because they were on private property.”
Goss said the neighbor should have hired someone to haul away the ties that fell onto the sidewalk.
“The man can afford to pay someone to take care of that,” Goss said.
Ryder said they extend the courtesy of helping borough residents to anyone that needs it.
“It’s just something we do and it’s the way we are here,” Ryder said.
Goss reiterated that his neighbor could have taken care of the situation and said, “He’s no more sick than I am.”
“His wealth and abilities aren’t any of my knowledge whatsoever,” Ryder responded. “He’s just another person in town. He could’ve been in a rundown house or a million dollar mansion. His financials are none of my business. I don’t get involved in them.”
Ryder said he wasn’t aware of the problem on the sidewalk on Curtis Street until Goss informed him of the matter. Goss asked why Ryder didn’t notice it since he is the borough’s code enforcement officer.
“There’s a sidewalk the whole length of his property,” Goss said. “You can’t see his sidewalk because of all the weeds that are growing there and the railroad ties that are falling out onto the sidewalk. As many times as you’ve drove by, you’ve never paid attention.”
Borough Manager Joel Watson said if someone has a tree fall down in their yard, they remove the tree if asked to do so.
“That’s a whole different situation,” Goss answered. “That’s somebody who’s taking care of their property and you’re removing what they can’t handle because they’re improving their property.”
“What do you want us to do? Put it back?” Watson asked.
“No,” Goss said. “But you know what? This borough is not a landscaping company.”
Goss said she would then put the other ties on her property out onto the sidewalk so the borough would then take them.
“You do what you need to do, Sharon,” Watson said.
“I will,” Goss said. “Because you people will all do whatever you want to do. Although you work for us, you do whatever the hell you want to do — whenever you want to do it.”
Ryder said he wished Goss would have been more specific on the request and said he took care of it “to the best of my ability.”
“If there was something specific in the way I was handling it, that should have been part of that phone call,” Ryder said.
“Oh no, no,” Goss responded. “I beg to differ. Your job is to be going around this borough and taking mental notes about what needs done and what hasn’t been done in this borough. And you need to be notifying people that they should be doing the things that they should be doing and you’re not doing that. Had you gone around and paid attention to what was going on, you would’ve taken care of this a long time ago.”
After further discussion, Vice President Sam Womer asked what the next move was. Goss said she will be putting the rest of the railroad ties “that fell into my yard out onto the sidewalk so the borough can come and pick them up.”
“And I’m also going to let the rebar in them,” Goss said.
Womer suggested since he’s the chairman of the public works committee that he and Ryder go up and look at the situation.
“We’ll go up and look at it and see what should be done,” Womer said. “I think Tim and I, between us, be able to figure out what should be done to solve the conflict. It’s obviously a conflict.”
“The conflict is you guys doing the job for a property owner that he should hire somebody to do it himself,” Goss responded.
“I can’t imagine your neighbor not being delighted to live next to you,” Womer said.
“I’m sure he is,” Goss said.
Womer again said Ryder and he will review the situation and come up with a solution.