WILKES-BARRE – What council did at Thursday night's meeting was not the issue for residents. What the elected officials and the city have not been doing, however, drew complaints.
Council approved the first reading of an ordinance to allow downtown residents to park at meters during certain times without being ticketed. The fee would be $150 annually for a permit.
Council approved the sale of surplus vehicles at an Oct. 6 auction to be held by L.A.G. Auctions of Dupont.
The five-member panel also approved a $13,999 purchase of fire hose dryer from Susquehanna Fire Equipment of Dewart, a $350,632 contract with Popple Construction Inc. of Laflin for a street project and the installation of energy efficient windows for the city fire department headquarters at a cost of $17,750 by low bidder Northeast Window Inc. of Pittston.
But for most of the hour-long meeting residents wanted answers about flags, crumbling walls, the placement of stop signs at a dangerous intersection and the city's contract with LAG Towing Inc., which is not affiliated with the auction company.
Jim Walsh passed out small American flags and demanded answers why the city was not placing flags on the streets during patriotic holidays.
Councilman George Brown supported Walsh's efforts. "I don't know where we'd get the money to do that," Brown said.
"You can set up a flag fund," Walsh replied.
Carl Lisowski of Oliver Street and John Kempka of Court Street have been dealing with the safety hazards of crumbling walls endangering their properties for years.
Like Walsh they were told the city does not have the funds to repair the walls.
"We are constantly looking for money to address that," Attilio "Butch" Frati, director of operations for the city told Lisowski.
Frati informed Kempka it would take $276,000 to fix the wall and widen the road near his house.
The city had money from Liquid Fuels Tax to do the work but chose to repair walls along creeks where there was a greater danger to property, Frati said.
Prepared with photographs, documents and a petition signed by 150 people Mark Zavoy made his case for having four stop signs at the intersection of Laurel and Kidder Streets. Laurel Street has two stop signs, but two are needed on Kidder Street due to the number of accidents that have damaged vehicles and property, he said.
The city's traffic commission has denied previous requests for the additional stop signs, he said.
Zavoy drew support from Councilmen Bill Barrett, former city police chief and accident reconstructionist. Barrett said he's been through the intersection and had difficulty pulling out from Laurel Street.
"I think it's a very reasonable request. I think it would make the intersection safer," Barrett said.
Before he was escorted from the fourth-floor council chambers by a police officer at the order of council President Mike Merritt, Mark Robbins played a portion of a song lampooning LAG Towing. Robbins, a critic of LAG, held a cellphone to the microphone at the speaker's table in order for the audience to hear "Grandma got towed by LAG," sung to the melody of the Christmas song "Grandma Got Run Over by a Reindeer."
"This is satire like Saturday Night Live to get publicity," Robbins said after the meeting.
Leo A. Glodzik, owner of the towing company, said he legally obtained the title for the car Robbins referred to in the song.