WILKES-BARRE — Before he addressed City Council on Thursday night, Donald Hosey warned that his comments would be unpleasant.
He’d gone to Mayor Tom Leighton and the police and was unsatisfied with the response to his reports that there is drug dealing in the city’s Riverfront Parks, Hosey explained on why he was speaking publicly to council.
“Right now in that river front park are two campsites of heroin dealers,” said Hosey of the Susquehanna River Watch.
He told council he’d been investigating the activity in the area of the Kirby Park Natural Area for the past seven weeks, taking down information, including names and phone numbers.
People he has spoken to in the park are afraid and Hosey said his life has been threatened.
“They’re dealing heroin to youth right out of city park. They have pit bulls tied around their campsite,” Hosey said.
The city animal enforcement officer was contacted and was afraid to go in with him, Hosey said.
Coincidentally, the ordinance amending the city’s ordinance on dogs running at large and police duties pertaining to those dogs was pulled from the agenda for the meeting to give council more time to review it.
Hosey said volunteers who want to go in to clean up the park can’t do so until the camps are cleared.
“We want these people removed from this park. We want them out of there,” he said.
The people setting up the campsites get tents and sleeping bags from area churches on the wrong assumption that they’re going to state parks instead of across the river to woods.
They have no bathrooms and go on the ground, he added.
“If this happened on Public Square you’d be outraged,” he said.
The last time he was there was approximately a week ago when he came across what he thought was a dead man lying on the ground. He said he contacted police and it turned out the man was either drunk or had overdosed on drugs.
He called for security in the park as a means to evict the campers and prevent them from returning.
Council Chairman Bill Barrett and Councilman Tony George, both former police officers, said they used to have patrols in the park with officers on bicycles and horses.
Hosey said he would welcome a meeting with Police Chief Gerry Dessoye to share his information about the campsites.
If the police do go in and check records, hopefully they will make arrests, Hosey said.
“If they we make them uncomfortable enough, they will go someplace else,” he said.