2014-05-06 Council Minutes


MINUTES
HAZLETON CITY COUNCIL
REGULAR MEETING
TUESDAY, MAY 6, 2014

Call to Order:  Council met in regular session on Tuesday, May 6, 2014 in Council Chambers. The meeting was called to order at 7:00 p.m.

Silent Meditation and Pledge of Allegiance:  A silent moment was taken followed by the Pledge of Allegiance.

Roll Call:  Bast-absent; Cusat-present; Mope-present; Sosar-present; Mundie-present

Minutes of Previous Meetings:  None.

Proclamations/Communications:  None.

Courtesy of the Floor:  Dee Deakos, 43 West Mine Street, Hazleton commented on Resolution 2014-54. She asked what used vehicles are being sold, and if one of them is the one received from the Sewer Authority. Mope said she believes it was the one the Police Chief was driving, but someone else is driving it at this time. It was from the Sewer Authority. Deakos asked if that car will be replaced, but then noticed on the resolution that it will be replaced. She asked if the replacement is in the budget. Mope said it is supposed to be done with a grant. Cusat said it is coming through from the State Police, and the State Police are paying for it. Deakos asked if everyone is in agreement on this. Cusat said he spoke with DeAndrea about this, and the Auto Theft Division of the State Police is reimbursing the City up to $600 per month. There is a three-year contract between the undercover officer involved and the State Police. Deakos asked what that officer was driving prior to this. Cusat said that officer’s vehicle is going to another officer that is working in the Drug Enforcement Agency. His vehicle is the one that is being sold. Mope said the vehicle is being passed down to this officer, and the other officer will get a new one.

Norman Tarantino, 154 North Lee Court, Hazleton commented on Ordinance 2014-7. He asked if there will be any towing attached to that Ordinance, like other cities. He said this is a problem with other small municipalities. Tarantino asked what the enforcement of this Ordinance will entail. Cusat said they will be ticketed. If the ticket justifies it to be towed, it would then be towed. Cusat said right now, it is just a ticket.  He added that he does not believe the cars will be towed on the first offense.

             

Old Business:

ORDINANCES

Ordinance 2014-4 An Ordinance Approving a Modification to the CDBG Action Plan for Fiscal Year 2014 (2nd Reading)

Presented by Mope. Seconded by Sosar.

Roll Call:  Bast-absent; Cusat-yes; Mope-yes; Sosar-yes; Mundie-yes

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  Ordinance 2014-4 An Ordinance Approving a Modification to the CDBG Action Plan for Fiscal Year 2014 (3rd Reading)

Presented by Mope. Seconded by Sosar.

Roll Call:  Bast-absent; Cusat-yes; Mope-yes; Sosar-yes; Mundie-yes

ORDINANCE PASSES UNANIMOUSLY

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Ordinance 2014-6 An Ordinance Regulating the Issuance of Customer Parking Only, Patient Parking Only, Patient Loading and Unloading Only, Loading Zone Signs, and Any Other Related Signs; Providing for Application Review and Procedures for Issuance of Customer Parking Only, Patient Parking Only, Patient Loading and Unloading Only, Loading Zone Signs, and Any Other Related Signs; and Renewal of Customer Parking Only, Patient Parking Only, Patient Loading and Unloading Only, Loading Zone, and Any other Related Signs in the City of Hazleton (TABLED 4-22-14) (1st Reading)

NO MOTION TO REMOVE FROM TABLE – ORDINANCE FAILS

             

RESOLUTIONS

None.

             

New Business:

ORDINANCES

Ordinance 2014-7 An Ordinance Regulating the Issuance of Customer Parking Only, Patient Parking Only, Patient Loading and Unloading Only, Loading Zone Signs, and Any Other Related Signs; Providing for Application Review and Procedures for Issuance of Customer Parking Only, Patient Parking Only, Patient Loading and Unloading Only, Loading Zone Signs, and Any Other Related Signs; and Renewal of Customer Parking Only, Patient Parking Only, Patient Loading and Unloading Only, Loading Zone, and Any other Related Signs in the City of Hazleton (1st Reading)

Presented by Cusat. Seconded by Mundie.

On the Question:

Cusat said he believes this will give the opportunity for small businesses to have a designated spot for their customers. He also feels they will not be “overtaken” by the larger businesses. Cusat said when someone applies for this signs, it can be cross-referenced to determine if that person has a business license and if he or she has paid the mercantile tax. It is good for the “checks and balances.” He would like to help protect some of the smaller businesses by giving them this spot. Mope asked if this affects the metered parking, and Cusat said no. Mope said metered parking will not be removed to make room for a designated parking spot, and Cusat agreed. Sosar asked if there is a mockup of what the sign will look like. Cusat said the signs will list customer parking, loading zone, etc., and have the hours it will be in effect and enforceable. Before or after these hours, those spaces would be open to the public. Someone in the audience asked aloud if the bank is paying a fee to have four parking signs on Broad Street. Cusat said he did not know. Mundie said he will check into it. Sosar said it is a good idea to check on this, as well as other businesses. Cusat said Broad Street is a state road. Mope stated that we may have to have the loading zones in the back alley, and not on Broad Street. Cusat said state roads have different laws than city roads. Mundie asked is Cusat had the Mayor look at this new proposal. Cusat said if the Mayor did not like the old one, then he is probably not going to like the new one. He added that this Ordinance gives a little more detail than the old Ordinance. Mundie asked if he spoke to DeAndrea about this. Cusat said he spoke to DeAndrea and received input from him on this. Mundie asked if DeAndrea is okay with these changes. DeAndrea said he is fine with these changes.

Roll Call:  Bast-absent; Cusat-yes; Mope-yes; Sosar-yes; Mundie-yes

             

RESOLUTIONS

Resolution 2014-52 Making the City Clerk a Notary Public

Presented by Mope. Seconded by Cusat.

Roll Call:  Bast-absent; Cusat-yes; Mope-yes; Sosar-yes; Mundie-yes

RESOLUTION PASSES UNANIMOUSLY

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Resolution 2014-53 Awarding the Audit for 2013, 2014 and 2015

On the Question:

Mope made a motion to table the Resolution, and Mundie seconded the motion.

Motion to Table:

Presented by Mope. Seconded by Mundie.

Roll Call (on Motion to Table):  Bast-absent; Cusat-yes; Mope-yes; Sosar-yes; Mundie-yes

RESOLUTION TABLED

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Resolution 2014-54 Sale and Removal of Used Vehicle from the Hazleton Police Department’s Inventory

Presented by Mope. Seconded by Sosar.

On the Question:

Cusat asked what vehicle this was for. Sosar said he knows that there are some things that DeAndrea cannot or may not want to disclose about this matter. He asked DeAndrea to give a little bit more information on this matter for the public’s sake. DeAndrea said this matter is regarding a 2004 Jeep Cherokee, which was originally purchased and used by the prior Chief of Police. When he came on as Police Chief, he gave that vehicle up and gave it to one of his “detached detectives,” so that he could work on the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) Task Force. The vehicle is either nearing or in excess of 100,000 miles, and, because of mechanical problems, it is no longer safe to operate. There is engine failure, transmission failure, and exhaust failures and leaks. DeAndrea said that because of these things, the vehicle needs to be taken out of service. He requested that it be moved from the rolls, take it off the insurance, and sell it or use it as a down payment for the purchase of a replacement vehicle.

Roll Call:  Bast-absent; Cusat-yes; Mope-yes; Sosar-yes; Mundie-yes

RESOLUTION PASSES UNANIMOUSLY

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Resolution 2014-55 Authorization to Approve the Municipal Financing for an Undercover Auto Theft Task Force Vehicle

Presented by Cusat. Seconded by Sosar.

Roll Call:  Bast-absent; Cusat-yes; Mope-yes; Sosar-yes; Mundie-yes

RESOLUTION PASSES UNANIMOUSLY

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Resolution 2014-56 Appointment to Downtown Overlay District Review Committee – Mary Malone

Presented by Mope. Seconded by Cusat.

Roll Call:  Bast-absent; Cusat-yes; Mope-yes; Sosar-yes; Mundie-yes

RESOLUTION PASSES UNANIMOUSLY

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Resolution 2014-57 Appointment to the International Building Code and International Property Maintenance Code Board of Appeals (Building Officials & Code Administrators International) – Charles Ziegler

Presented by Cusat. Seconded by Mope.

On the Question:

Charles Ziegler came to the podium to answer some of Council’s questions. Mundie asked if this Board has any more vacancies, and if Ziegler is replacing someone. Ziegler answered yes to both questions. He said he is replacing Mike Wilfing.

Roll Call:  Bast-absent; Cusat-yes; Mope-yes; Sosar-yes; Mundie-yes

RESOLUTION PASSES UNANIMOUSLY

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Resolution 2014-58 Resolution Appointing a Designated Parking Enforcement Officer for the City of Hazleton – Todd Phillips

Presented by Cusat. Seconded by Mope.

  On the Question:

Cusat said it says on the Resolution “designated parking enforcement officer for the City of Hazleton.” He asked if this means we are hiring someone. DeAndrea came to the podium to answer Council’s questions. DeAndrea replied no. The previous appointment made to this position and approved by Council was Jason Hoffman, who was either terminated or resigned. DeAndrea said Todd Phillips will be an employee of the Hazleton Parking Authority, and just needs Council’s permission to be a designated parking enforcement officer. This means the City is authorizing him to write tickets, and he is not an employee of the City. Mope asked for confirmation that once the City takes over the Parking Authority, he is not going to be an employee for the City. Mundie asked if he is already employed by the Parking Authority. DeAndrea said he is not sure if he is already hired, or if they are waiting to hire him upon Council’s approval. He was last told by Ralph Sharp in Public Transit to have this person’s name put on the Resolution so that City Council may approve him to issue tickets for the City. Mope was concerned with how he was being paid, and DeAndrea said he is not being paid by the City, and neither was Hoffman. Mundie asked who is handling parking enforcement for the Parking Authority. DeAndrea said they now have John Simcovich and, if approved, Todd Phillips. He added that Deborah Metz is currently a Parking Authority employee, but does not have the authority to issue tickets. It is the Authority’s requests that since she is always there, and a those with authority are out, or if she sees a violation, she should be allowed to issue a parking ticket. Mope asked what Metz’s current job is at the Parking Authority, but DeAndrea was not sure. He said she does the payroll, and their administrative tasks, but he did not know what her specific title or job description was. Sosar said he would like it to be placed on the record that Council is granting authority to write tickets and we are not hiring anyone, then it is okay with him.

Roll Call:  Bast-absent; Cusat-yes; Mope-yes; Sosar-yes; Mundie-yes

RESOLUTION PASSES UNANIMOUSLY

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Resolution 2014-59 Resolution Appointing a Designated Parking Enforcement Officer for the City of Hazleton – Deborah Metz

Presented by Mope. Seconded by Cusat.

Roll Call:  Bast-absent; Cusat-yes; Mope-yes; Sosar-yes; Mundie-yes

RESOLUTION PASSES UNANIMOUSLY

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Resolution 2014-60 Accepting the 2012 Annual Audit

** Mundie said that prior to tonight’s meeting, Council held an executive session to discuss the draft audit with the auditors.

Presented by Cusat. Seconded by Sosar.

Roll Call:  Bast-absent; Cusat-yes; Mope-yes; Sosar-yes; Mundie-yes

RESOLUTION PASSES UNANIMOUSLY

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  Resolution 2014-61 Appointment to the Hazleton City Authority – John Nilles

** Mundie asked DeCosmo if the Resolution could be presented once the name of the person is filled in. DeCosmo replied yes.

On the Question:

Mope made a motion to nominate John Nilles to the Hazleton City Authority. Mundie seconded the motion.

Motion to Nominate John Nilles:

Presented by Mope. Seconded by Mundie.

Roll Call (Nominating John Nilles):  Bast-absent; Cusat-yes; Mope-yes; Sosar-yes; Mundie-yes

RESOLUTION PASSES UNANIMOUSLY

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At this point, Mundie made a motion to suspend the rules to prepare Resolution 2014-62 which would authorize Skokoski & DeCosmo to prepare and file a Declaratory and Mandamus Action to enforce the 2014 budget. Mope seconded the motion.

Motion to Suspend the Rules:

Presented by Mundie. Seconded by Mope.

Roll Call:  Bast-absent; Cusat-yes; Mope-yes; Sosar-yes; Mundie-yes

MOTION TO SUPSEND THE RULES PASSES

Comments from the Audience regarding Resolution 2014-62:

Sylvia Thomas, 409 West 6th Street, Hazleton said she looked up the definition of a budget. She said it is a legal document that gives the City the authority to incur obligations and to pay expenses. It allocates resources among departments, controlling how much each department may spend. It tells the people the vision for the future, and conveys actual accomplishments. She said the reasons to have a budget are to pay bills on time, learn to live within your means, distinguish the difference between wants and needs, be a smarter spender, find ways to cut costs, set and prioritize financial goals, stop making ends meet by borrowing, and figuring out how to get out of debt. She said all of this sounds very important, yet it is the fifth month of the year and we still do not have a budget. She asked Council to please do something about it. Mundie said they are doing something about it.

John Homa, Hazleton said he is all for the idea of the court case proceeding. He said “the games have got to stop, and Joe Yannuzzi has to learn that he does not have the right to play with everybody’s lives in this town.” Homa said “Let’s get it done and stop his disgusting games.” He said the people in this town that dislike him tried to start trouble, but they will lose this time.

Frank DeAndrea, Chief of Police, City of Hazleton, asked if this action could cause a court to state that we have no budget in place. Mundie said he did not believe so. DeCosmo said he does not believe so. He will be asking the court to determine what budget is in place. He believes the correct budget is the budget passed on February 11, 2014, but the Mayor thinks otherwise. The Mandamus Action will be to ask the court to make the Mayor act pursuant to that Action. DeAndrea said there is case law that when a budget is not in place that the municipal police are not allowed to work. He needs to know as soon as possible so he can contact the State Police so they can cover the City of Hazleton. Mundie said he believes it would be Slusser’s job to decide if he should contact anyone about that. DeAndrea said he is bringing it up so that no one is surprised if this occurs. Mope said back in December, when the City was running out of money, as per the Mayor, he said the police and fire departments will continue to work. She hopes he still has that frame of mind. DeAndrea was concerned with the case law on this matter. Sosar asked for point of order. He felt it would be better served for everyone, especially Council, to not make much more comment on this matter. What can be said right now, could be used in court. Sosar said he would prefer for everyone’s protection that this discussion be ceased and Council vote on this Resolution. He said he understands DeAndrea’s position. DeAndrea agreed. DeAndrea asked DeCosmo to reach out to Slusser regarding this case law. Sosar said Council should call for the vote right now. Mundie said Council is of the opinion that the way the government works is that the Mayor proposes a budget, Council sets the budget, decides what is spent, and decides if the taxes should be raised or lowered. He added that Council passes the budget and Council controls the amount of money that is spent. He said that the Mayor does not understand that. Sosar again asked to go to the vote. Cusat asked if this is to file the action or to just prepare the information needed to file it. DeCosmo said it is to authorize him to prepare the action and get everything ready. Cusat said he does not like the budget that was passed, but he believes it was passed properly and that it should be in place. Mundie said it is just authorizing DeCosmo to get everything reading.

Resolution 2014-62 Authorizing the Law Firm of Skokoski & DeCosmo to Prepare Declaratory and Mandamus Actions to Enforce the 2014 Budget

Presented by Mundie. Seconded by Mope.

Roll Call:  Bast-absent; Cusat-yes; Mope-yes; Sosar-yes; Mundie-yes

RESOLUTION PASSES UNANIMOUSLY

             

Comments from the Audience:  Dee Deakos, 43 West Mine Street, Hazleton commented on a problem occurring in downtown Hazleton. She said there has been a food truck coming at night and staying until the early hours of the morning. She said the truck was still there at 3:00 a.m. on Friday morning, plus the customers are playing their music very loudly. Deakos said a state highway has special rules, and she does not believe this food truck could conduct business on a state highway. She asked how the person operating the truck uses bathroom facilities, because there is nowhere open at that time of the morning. She does not believe it is a good thing for the downtown. The noise is very loud and she is able to hear it through a closed window. Mundie asked if she called the Police because the City has a Noise Ordinance. Deakos said no, but she did tell someone in administration about it. She said they park the food truck in front of the old Security Savings building. Mope asked Deakos to talk to DeAndrea about it after the meeting. DeAndrea said last week when he was made aware of the problem with the noise from the food truck, he immediately dispatched the Health Department and check on this. He talked to the Slusser about the food trucks in the City’s Ordinance. He had Sergeant Zientek and Lieutenant Zipovsky go past there to verify that the noise was too loud. The generator is too loud. The owner said he borrowed a generator because his was broken. DeAndrea said Mark Thompson from the Health Department went there and told him he is not allowed to use that generator any more. He learned that the owner of the food truck is again using that generator. He said Diane Panzarella checked with the Department of Labor and Industry and they said the problem comes from our Ordinance. It states that a mobile food truck must move at least once every 10 minutes, but that is all it says. Something needs to be placed in the Ordinance as to what are the ramifications if the truck is not moved every 10 minutes. DeAndrea instructed everyone in his department, if they see the truck and they are running that generator, they need to be cited every time under the Noise Ordinance. He added that Thompson will be sending the owner of the truck a letter telling him to cease and desist the use of that generator. Sosar said that the City of Scranton prepared ordinances regarding this type of issue, and they may be of assistance to him. DeAndrea said he likes to patronize food trucks. He said that because the City does not have an Ordinance regarding food trucks, the good businesses suffer. They do not pay the same taxes, sign fees, or business license fees. DeAndrea said he would look into the matter further.

Charlie Ziegler, Harrison Street, Hazleton said he has a problem with the large amount of abandoned vehicles in the City. He said the only businesses making out on this are the towing companies. He suggested having towing companies bid on a City-wide towing contract. This way the City sees more revenue and the vehicles are off the roads. He said the City is towing cars, but as fast as they are being towed, they are being replaced by others, and the City is not making any money on this.

Richard Wienches, 119 Forest Hills, Hazle Township, commented on the littering that is going on in Hazle Township, Hazleton and West Hazleton. He said electronic equipment that is not permitted to be disposed of with the regular garbage, such as TVs, computers, etc., is being illegally dumped in certain areas of the three municipalities. He commented on the City’s electronic recycling program that is coming up. He said in the area of Diamond Avenue through Hazle Brook, eight TVs were dumped here within one week of the advertisement being in the newspaper. He said people are not reading the newspaper. Wienches said he also sees this on Stockton Mountain Road. He believes that Hazleton City residents are dumping these items in Hazle Township. He suggested preparing a plan placing dumpsters at each garage in each municipality for placement of electronic equipment. He asked Council to look into this matter. He stated that charging $20 to get rid of a television is a lot of money for most people in the City. Wieches said “They’re going to put it in their car, and they’re going to take it to my township, and dump it at night.” He said the state dumped all of this on the municipalities by not allowing it to go in the garbage. He said there is also a problem with used tires. This creates a problem with mosquitoes and fires. He said “it makes it a lousy welcoming card to come visit our city.” Wienches said there are several business in Hazleton City that are not disposing of their tires properly. He asked if the disposal of these tires is being confirmed, and if these places are licensed. He said there are ones on 15th Street and on Diamond Avenue that he has concerns about. DeAndrea said those businesses are inspected and properly licensed, but he cannot answer if the tires are being disposed of properly. Mundie said Luzerne County has a program where they take everything. Wienches said the tires in the area of East Diamond Avenue have been there for over a year, and more are coming. Sosar said he would like to see something coordinated with Hazle Township about this. He suggested having people do community service to help clean this up, but it has to be investigated further. Sosar said “we will get the conversation going” on this matter. Wienches commented on the Noise Ordinance. He said he saw a person on a bicycle with two huge speakers, blasting music, as he was peddling down Diamond Avenue going west. Mope asked DeAndrea if there are any signs posted stating that dumping is prohibited. Wienches said Hazle Township put a sign up saying dumping prohibited on Hazle Brook Road. Someone took a piece of furniture and placed it right over top of the sign. Mundie said he believes most people know they are not supposed to be dumping these items. Mope said some people will be discouraged to dump it they see how much the fine is if they get caught. Wienches felt putting cameras in these areas would be a help. He said he walks Hazle Brook Road every day, and this goes on all the time. Mundie said there was a dumpster at the City garage at one time, but people were throwing things in there that they were not supposed to. He suggested placing a camera near the dumpster to deter this type of behavior. Mundie said that we should make them take the TVs for nothing. If they are making money on the other electronics, they should “absorb” that by being able to take the TVs at no cost. Mundie said he would suggest that to the Mayor.

Diane Jessel, 545 North James Street, Hazleton said she awoke one morning to find two LED TVs and a computer on her front lawn. She said her daughter came up from Maryland the next day, and took them back with her to dispose of them. Mundie said Council is going to try to figure out something to do about things like this. He felt having the recycling programs more often and having a dumpster available would be a good start. DeAndrea agreed with Mundie. He said the Hazleton City Authority has the garbage contract, so he is not sure how much authority we have over this matter. Mundie said there should be a designated location for people to dispose of these electronics that is monitored on a regular basis. Mope suggested putting a dumpster at City Hall because City Hall has cameras, and they can be monitored. DeAndrea said this was discussed at this morning’s staff meeting. He said Department Heads constantly get calls about this. There was recently a call about one on Buttonwood and Laurel Streets.

Mark Rabo, 8 West 1st Street, Hazleton commented on the abandoned vehicles and the garbage. He said on May 18, 2014, the new Third Class City Code will be enacted. Section 27A, Nuisance Abatement, of the Third Class City Code addresses this matter. Rabo stated that Council will have the authority to charge a department to deal with these nuisances and have a Nuisance Officer cite people for these violations. It also describes how to dispose of these things. If they do not dispose of these things properly, they could be fined, but there are also other recourses available. He suggested Council look into implementing this. Rabo said he would have a plan ready to deal with nuisances and the blighted properties before the next Council meeting, so that Council may review it. Rabos said in accordance with the Constitution, you cannot have the executive branch of government “infringe” on the legislative branch, or vice versa. He said “when one person usurps another branch…doesn’t that undermine the Constitution as far as the authority prescribed in it?” He said this is a representative democracy, and that needs to be emphasized. Rabo said the “Constitution guides us…and if you don’t care, you shouldn’t be in office.” He said he has been to the state meeting, the county meeting, and the City meeting today. He stated that all elected officials have to abide by what is in the Constitution.

John Homa, Hazleton said he is very happy that he can get up here and speak about how he feels. He said he wants to use his inalienable rights to say what he thinks and give support where needed. Homa said some people want him to shut up so they can have their way. He said the only way that is going to happen is if they have him killed. Homa said “I will help get somebody real in the people’s office of the Mayor when it’s time.”

Norman Tarantino, 154 North Lee Court, Hazleton commended the City on the cleanup of the streets. He said he raked up all the debris on Magnolia Street, and it was picked up with no problem. He said they did a great job. He commended the police who ticketed the people who did not move their cars, after hearing the announcement. Tarantino said he hoped other people helped cleaned up the streets as well. He said a TV was left on Lee Court and Magnolia Street that was not picked up with the trash yesterday, and it is still there.

Sylvia Thomas, 409 West 6th Street, Hazleton said the sign out front of City Hall regarding the 100th Anniversary of City Hall is a “disgrace.” She said they should have asked the students at the high school to make a better sign. Thomas said that shows how much pride we have in the City. She said it has been there for a long time. Cusat said it has been there since December of 2013. Mundie said he would look at after the meeting.

Comments from Mayor or Director of Administration:  None.

Comments from Junior Council:  Joel Soto stated that Constitution is what our founding fathers based the Constitution on. He agreed with Rabo’s comments on this matter. He said it is semi-important that Council has taken action against the Mayor, but he does not want this to negatively affect the City. He was happy to see everyone here tonight, and thanked everyone for coming.

Comments from Council:  Cusat said he has been working with DeAndrea on the garbage situation, the food trucks, and towing and impounding of vehicles. He thanked those that came to the meeting to give their presentations on the street lighting project. He said that brighter streets will have a positive impact on the City. Cusat added that “If it’s done for free and we get a few hundred thousand left over, even better.” He thanked DeAndrea and the Street Department workers for coming tonight.

Mope said earlier this evening there were some great presentations on the street lighting. The City is changing over to LED lights. It is supposed to save the City money in the long run. She said it is a 10-year program. This will brighten up the City, and both systems will “spread out,” instead of just shining down in one area. Mope thanked everyone for coming. She told the Streets Department workers that the streets looked great, and they did a good job. Mope said a lot of work was done on our playgrounds, and some future work is going to be done as well. She said a lot of money will be invested in this, including grant money and donations. She hates to see it all go to waste. Mope said Cusat did a wonderful job on the revitalization of the James Street playground. She stated she received an email with regard to the James Street playground. The email read that there was a cleanup of the playground on April 27, 2014, and those involved in the cleanup did a fantastic job. They were there over two hours. The person who wrote the email stated that just 18 hours after the cleanup, he picked up 12 plastic drinking cups, empty paper bags of chips, and a glass jar. He stated there were older men playing basketball there until 8:15 p.m., and they were very noise. He asked why the police do not patrol this area, and give out tickets. The email further stated that it is a shame that so many hours went into cleaning up this playground, and in less than a day, it is a mess again. He suggested taking the basketball court away like Williamsport did, and 80% of the problems will go away. The email said that he wished the Mayor lived in this area for a summer, and then, maybe, he would think differently. Mope read from another email she received which said that the basketball players are still in violation because the playground was clean on Thursday in the morning, and Friday morning there were plastic bottles accumulating and there was a 40-ounce bottle of liquor in paper bag left there. She said she also received pictures. Mope suggested initiating a new policy called “You Abuse, You Lose It.” She said the hoops should be taken down if they disrespect the playground, and the hoops do not go back up until the court is kept clean, the curfew is obeyed, and the noise is kept to a minimum. If it happens again, they come back down and stay down until they stop doing these things. She would like to see fences placed around the playgrounds. Mope said she has spent a lot of time in New York over the last few months, and, for city of that size, their playgrounds and public facilities are “beautiful.” She said the people appreciate the green spaces they have, because there are not that many of them. These areas are also fenced. Mope said the only thing missing on James Street is a gate, and perhaps we could find funding through recreation to put a gate up that can be locked. She said they need to learn to respect these areas. There are certain hours that these playgrounds are to be used, and they are not supposed to use them in the evening. She does not want to see gang graffiti on the items on the playground. She reiterated that “If they about it, the hoops should come down, and they don’t go back up until we see that they’re keeping the playground clean.” She hoped others agreed with her. Someone from the audience said he walks by Arthur Street playground five days a week, and Mascaro does not empty the barrels. He called the Mayor’s office about this. He said he has called about this for five summers in a row. He said there are two 55-gallon drums up there, and the kids are using them, but they are not being emptied. The barrels were not emptied since the beginning of the winter, and they were just emptied last week. This is a big part of the problem. Mope said she was not sure if that is part of their contract. Mundie asked if he has seen Mascaro do that before. Someone else from the audience agreed that the barrels are always full, and he cannot even get Mascaro to pick up his garbage. Mascaro passes the playground every Wednesday. Mundie said he will speak to someone at the Water Authority about this, and see why this is not being done. Mope said beer and liquor bottles do not belong on the playgrounds. Mundie asked the City Clerk to send a letter to the Water Authority about this matter. DeAndrea said the barrels are constantly full, and he does not believe Mascaro is supposed to do this. He believes it is the Streets Department’s responsibility to empty these barrels. DeAndrea said the Streets Department is so short-handed doing everything else, that this is put by the wayside. It would make more sense to put two extra barrels at each playground, keep them close to the fence so the garbage truck can dump them, and see what it would cost to put the two extra barrels at each of the seven or eight playgrounds. Mundie asked who puts the barrels there, and DeAndrea said the City. DeAndrea said it is the City’s garbage and it will not need to be recycled, because the City is exempt from recycling. He said we should have the garbage contractor dump the barrels once a week. Cusat said when James Street was done, he believes Mascaro took the stance that they only pick up garbage left out on the street. They will not come into the playground to empty the barrels. He said he asked a neighbor to take the bags out and put them on the street, but there were never any bags in them. Mundie felt that the extra barrels would be helpful. Mope said it is not just about the garbage. They are also noisy and they are violating the curfew. It is not fair to the neighbors, because they should be allowed to sit outside their homes and enjoy themselves without having to suffer. Mope said in New York, the playgrounds are locked up after a certain time. She said if a big city could do that, then why can’t we. Cusat said he only helped raise the money for the James Street playground, but the Streets Department did most of the work. They planted over 60 trees, they fixed the pavilion, and they put the new sign up. He did not want to take anything away from them. He said they did an excellent job on James Street, Arthur Street, and Pine Street. Mope said they also put new mulch down.

Sosar stated that many years ago the playground associations took care of each playground, and he encouraged the City and City Council to resurrect these playground associations. He asked that maybe there are people living around the playgrounds, whose children use them that may help out. The more recreation there is for the children, the less they will get into trouble. He said these playgrounds need to be clean and useful for the children. Sosar said that some adults are going to have to be willing to take charge as part of the neighborhood playground associations. He said John Nilles was named to the Hazleton City Water Authority to fill the remainder of the term of Robert Zientek, who resigned. DeCosmo agreed. Sosar said the resolution should read as such. He thanked everyone for coming and for all of their ideas. He said regardless of what anyone says, in two hours’ time, we can accomplish a lot. He said we just need to set our minds to it and work together.

Mundie said he received a call about 235 First Street. He said the house is being remodeled and there is junk in the yard and up against the house. He asked Mike Wilfing to look into this. Mundie said he also got a call about 588 West Green Street. Somebody put up a fence, but it is partially on the sidewalk, which is the City’s right-of-way. He said he is “appalled” that anyone could let United Rehabilitation Services (URS) closed. The Pennsylvania budget was cut 35% each year for two years. He said he does not know if that contributed to the closing of URS or not. Mundie asked Sosar to draft a letter to the Governor stating that we are against this, and ask if there is anything to do to restore the funding or reopen the facility. Sosar said he would be happy to do that. Mundie said the closing of URS will hurt the area, and hurt the individuals that want to work and do something with their lives. It will also affect the families of those who worked there. Sosar said he will write a letter, and pass it around to all of the Council members. Mundie said it is “terrible” that this facility is being closed, but we could try to do something about, and do our best.

Adjournment:  Mundie motioned to adjourn the meeting with Mope seconding the motion. Meeting adjourned.

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