Wyalusing Council Bans Jake Brake Use in Borough
By David Keeler
Wyalusing Borough will soon become considerably quieter thanks to a ban on the use of truck Jake brakes in the borough, approved unanimously Monday night by the borough council. Jake brakes function by using a diesel engine’s compression to slow a truck and often produce a loud staccato machine gun sound while doing so.
The ban on Jake brakes will run from Third Street—across from the Farm and Home Plaza along Route 6—to the borough line at the Wyalusing Creek and along Route 706 from County Bridge Road (the borough line) to Route 6.
“At least you’ll be able to have a conversation while standing outside the Rocket office,” Kelly Bradley told fellow councilmembers. “Right now you can’t.”
The Jake brake ban was reviewed and approved by PennDOT. Council plans to erect signs announcing the ban as soon as possible and upgrade an existing ordinance.
Monday night brought yet another round of discussions regarding Carolyn Harrsch’s debate with council over a parking ban along Route 6 in front of her house. Harrsch wasn’t at the meeting but was represented by a friend, Sandra Hudak. Harrsch’s daughter, Melissa Lee, was also at the meeting. The debate has been going on since April. Harrsch, who is handicapped, has stated there was on-street parking in front of her home when she bought it, but council has since prohibited parking. Council maintains that the rebuilding of Route 6 in the borough and dramatically increased traffic brought about the parking ban. A driveway was built providing off-street parking for Harrsch during Route 6 reconstruction, but she found it to be substandard and had the contractor remove it.
“I’m wondering why the borough can’t help her?” Hudak said, explaining that Harrsch’s disabilities were real and not faked. “I think that would be to everyone’s advantage.”
Council President George Anderson explained that every time council has offered a solution to the problem, Harrsch has turned it down. “We offered to create a handicapped parking space for her to park on Route 6 and she wanted two,” Anderson said. He noted that liability issues have since surfaced concerning the handicapped space, and council now, should she decide to accept the offer, wants Harrsch to exclude the borough from any liability should an accident take place involving her parking along Route 6.
Anderson also noted that a handicapped parking space would not give Harrsch exclusive use of that parking space. “If another handicapped person decided to park there, they would have the right,” Anderson said.
He also said that council offered to build a driveway onto Harrsch’s property, providing that she would agree to have a lien covering the cost of the driveway attached to her property, but she refused. Anderson explained that the lien would provide reimbursement for the borough when the property is sold.
Mayor Jean Reinhart read a portion of a letter from Borough Solicitor Jonathan Foster regarding the borough building a driveway for Harrsch. The letter stated: “You could advance the cost of this improvement, with her consent, and file a municipal lien against her property in order to recover the costs.” Reinhart also noted that Harrsch refused this offer.
Anderson said Borough Secretary Stacy Hart said she explored the possibility of getting a Community Development Block Grant to cover the cost of building a driveway for Harrsch, but found that she did not qualify. Hart said she wrote a letter and sent photos. “I did quite a bit of legwork,” Hart said, “and was told that it did not qualify.”
Hudak asked if council had gotten an estimate for the cost of constructing a driveway for Harrsch. Anderson said the borough had not. “There’s no sense in pursuing this if she isn’t going to agree to the lien,” the mayor added. ‘Unless she says okay, I don’t think we should be involved.”
Scott Snyder said adding more than one parking space along Route 6 would increase the likelihood of a crash. “If she (Harrsch) would give in to the idea of having one parking spot, and allow us to mark it that way, which would also require that she sign a release of liability form with Jonathan Foster before we go ahead with it… If she could be talked into that, she can at least have her one spot that we’re happy to give her. If she does not want to give in to that, she is as much of a problem in this deadlock as anybody.”
Hudak said Harrsch feels that without parking she will be unable to sell her home. “If you built the driveway, how many parking spaces would you build?” Hudak asked “Just the driveway,” Anderson replied. “Now I see why this is taking so long,” he added. “Every time we offer a solution for one problem, there is another.”
The discussion ended with Hudak saying she would discuss the options with Harrsch. “I’ll see what I can do,” she said.
Other business included:
—Agreeing to sign an amendment with Chesapeake Energy increasing the size of the drilling unit on the borough’s Brewer Hollow property from 640 acres to an open-ended unit, although 820 is the average size of unlimited units.
—Hearing a brief report from Mayor Reinhart regarding the recent PA Mayor’s Convention she attended. One of the things the mayor said she learned at that gathering was that the borough is required to meet with the EMS coordinator at least once every two years. Stacy Hart said it’s been about two years since such a meeting has taken place. The mayor also said police officer Joe DeMuro and Ordinance Enforcement Officer Sandy Myhand would be taking borough ordinance for review by District Magisterial Judge Fred Wheaton. Council gave its approval for Myhand to travel in the police cruiser with DeMuro. Mayor Reinhart also said that Myhand is making improvements in the community by having people mow their yards and clean up their properties.
—Discussing working out an agreement with the Wyalusing Municipal Authority for use of its newly purchased dump truck when it is needed at the cemetery and for snow removal.
—Hearing that no demolition permit has been acquired yet for the removal of the Tama barn on Gaylord Street. Council had been previously informed that the barn would be razed.
—Discussing an out-of-service fire hydrant near NAPA that needs to be relocated. Council agreed to write a letter to the municipal authority stressing the importance of getting the hydrant, which has been unusable for months, back in service. “It needs to work,” Kelly Bradley said, summing up the feelings of council.
—Discussing repairs needed to Old State Street behind the Farm and Home Plaza and a problem where cooking grease is being dumped into a storm drain on Main Street.
—Hearing from Mayor Reinhart that Assistant Wyalusing Area School District Superintendent Chester Mummau and board member Larry Franklin met with her recently to discuss damage to the cemetery fence near the high school. They were concerned that concrete barriers the borough installed to protect the fence might pose a problem for bus traffic. “I told them that’s not our problem,” Reinhart said. “A bus should be able to get through there. They had no problem this year with students’ cars parked there.” Council intends to send a bill to the school district for damage to the cemetery fence.
Police Officer Patrick Butkiewicz briefly attended the meeting.
Councilmember Fred Reinhart was absent from the meeting.