SHICKSHINNY — Warning that the borough will “be like Wilkes-Barre before long,” Councilman Kevin Morris made a plea to have the borough’s police department restored at Tuesday night’s meeting.
“This borough is going down the hill fast,” Morris said. “We need a police department.”
Morris’ motion, however, to have a police unit restored was defeated on a 3-2 vote. Morris and Kathleen Lllewellyn voted in favor of the motion, while Chairperson Rosalie Whitebread, Michael Steeber and Jim Wido voted against it.
Morris, who has led a fight to have the department restored after its disbandment earlier this year, said that drug deals, juveniles gangs and a general disregard for the law has created an atmosphere that is detrimental to the borough.
Morris added there have been incidents of juvenile gangs gathering to fight, including a recent incident on West Union Street near the municipal building. In another case, there was an arson attempt at the pavilion in the park on Canal Street, he said.
“At night, all the kids come out,” Morris said.
The Pennsylvania State Police currently provide law enforcement to the borough, but Morris and several other residents in attendance believe the response time for police calls is too slow.
Mayor Beverly Moore offered to resign if her resignation would help restoring the department.
“If it will change things, then I’ll quit,” Moore said. “They (the council majority) don’t seem to want me in charge.”
Steeber, as he has done previously, proposed that services of the Salem Township police be retained. Steeber’s motion met with loud objection from the residents in attendance.
The police weren’t the only borough service that came under fire from the public.
After complaints were registered by a West Union Street resident Mat Carey, Morris moved that Rick Harmon, codes enforcement and zoning officer, be fired. The motion was defeated with the same vote as the police motion.
Carey complained that Harmon has failed to enforce code regulations at two properties across the street from his house. Carey made assertions about the caliber of people residing in the structures, one of which he said is a three-unit apartment building, and suspicions of illegal activities occurring.
At one point it was alleged that the apartment unit fails to comply with state Department of Labor and Industry regulations with regard to fire alarms and sprinkler systems.
After voting, council accepted a proposal by Solicitor John Pike to give Harmon an opportunity to respond to accusations at a public meeting of council.
“We have to hear Rick’s side on this,” Wido said.