Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Columbia Borough Council Meeting July 14, 2014

The regular monthly meeting of the Columbia Borough Council was held at the Borough Hall, 308 Locust Street, at 7 p.m. on July 14, 2014.  Highlights of the meeting are as follows:

In Citizen Comments (Agenda Items Only), Columbia resident and Market House vendor Jen Stoutzenberger presented to council a list of complaints against the Columbia Historic Market House Trust, including non-responsiveness and lack of vendor input in decisions made by the trust. She said she doesn't know who is on the board and stated that the trust's responsibility is to oversee the market and not individual businesses.  
A second vendor told council that picnic tables were removed without notice and replaced with metal bistro-style chairs, which elderly patrons find difficult to sit on. He added that he was willing to supply tables to accommodate those patrons as well as larger groups but was not permitted to do so by a trust representative. Borough Manager Sam Sukolsky said the missing table issue will be investigated since it constitutes removal of borough property. Market House vendors also presented a petition to council to abolish the trust.
(A meeting attendee wishing to remain anonymous spoke to this reporter and said several people wishing to rent stands had their requests denied by the trust. The reason given for the denial was that their business was not classified "agricultural." According to the attendee, this is one reason many stands remain empty.)

SGT Damian J.M. Smith, a historian for the Pennsylvania National Guard, expressed interest in acquiring the 3-inch artillery piece that currently rests near the entrance to the Veterans Memorial Bridge. Smith asked that the borough consider a mutually agreeable arrangement for obtaining the piece, which would ultimately rest in the Military Museum at Fort Indiantown Gap. He also stated that the military could simply take it without the borough's consent, since it is still considered federal government property, but they prefer not to do so. Smith stated he is currently in pursuit of a similar but more valuable piece in Arizona and said if unable to acquire it, he would then be more inclined to take Columbia's. When asked by council how he found the piece, he replied that newly installed lights near the bridge allowed him to see it as he drove past.  Council agreed to research how the borough had originally acquired the piece.  One resident estimated it had been at or near its current location for about 60 years. Councillor Barry Ford directed Smith to the local 11-11-11 Club for assistance in the meantime.

The issues of fire company consolidation and the purchase of radios for fire emergency personnel were revisited. Susquehanna Fire and Rescue Co. #4 representative Jay Barninger asked council to back consolidation of the borough's three fire companies by setting a completion date of April 1, 2015. He said the process could conceivably be completed sooner but that the stated date includes a buffer allowing for unforeseen delays. Councillor Mary Barninger said council had been pushing for consolidation for five years and it was time to move forward with it. Council voted to recognize only one (consolidated) company after the April 1 deadline and allow the current fire chief to serve out his term until then, to afford a smooth transition. Council also reconsidered last month's vote on the allotment of funds to purchase radios and subsequently reduced the amount to approximately $120,000.  The $40,000 in leftover funds will remain in account and be reassigned for use at a later date.

Councillor Jim Smith explained his absence at the June 23 meeting of the whole where council voted to sell the borough's wastewater assets to the Lancaster Area Sewer Authority (LASA).  At that meeting, some councillors seemed uncertain of whether or not Smith would attend.  Smith stated that he was in Salzburg, Germany for 12 days visiting a childhood friend who is now a priest. He added that council knew about the scheduled vacation for a year.
He also added that he was disappointed the vote was taken in his absence, since, as he stated, he had "pushed for" the committee of the whole, and the LASA issue was the most important one the council had faced in many years. He said the vote should not have occurred at that meeting but at a regular borough council meeting. He said he would have liked to have been "part of the conversation." When questioned by a citizen, Smith gave no indication of how he would have voted.

During Citizen Comments (Non-Agenda Items Only), Shirley McBride of Perry Street questioned the inspection process of rental properties in the borough, specifically citing 211 Perry Street, reportedly owned by realtor Paul Snyder.   She said she was "appalled" at the conditions of the home, specifically, mold, deteriorating ceiling tiles, and other problems. She added that the property is overrun by mice.  



Two views of the aforementioned artillery piece:



40 comments:

  1. Council cannot allow this piece of Columbia's history to be taken! How many years has this item been there and now out of the blue it must be surrendered. This should be fought to the bitter end. Our government has too much power over the people. This time the answer is NO we are not giving up this piece of history. If they arrive to "take" it, make it a public scene complete with news 8.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I agree. Where does it end? Will they come back in 20 years and ask for the other piece? The borough must have some right of ownership after 60+ years.

      Delete
  2. Excellent photo, thanks. It may be all we have left.

    ReplyDelete
  3. I was just reminded that the gentleman at the meeting offered us another piece of equipment, possibly a tank, in exchange for the existing piece.

    ReplyDelete
  4. The government OWES Columbia Pa. Over One Hundred Million dollars for the burning of the bridge!!!!!!!!!

    ReplyDelete
  5. This cannon was probably one of the artillery pieces from the General Shannon Armory. The saving grace is the support of our local and state representatives being the fact of Columbia's prominence of civil service for our great country.These historic figurines were placed there pointed to the West, showing our stance of invasion resistance.
    Just because you drive past these historic pieces and claim government ownership while driving this Veterans Memorial Bridge, you have no right to take our history.
    Onward Columbia!

    ReplyDelete
  6. Citizens of the Borough of Columbia had better wake up and and realize that whatever a certain little group of people wants, they are going to get it...Legally or underhandedly, they just don't care. They can't even include a fellow member of council. They knowingly voted on the sale of the sewer authority in Mr. Smiths known absence because they wanted it to be done. As for the consolidation vote turnaround,they want what they want and they think the citizens are too uneducated to figure this farce out.Just show up at the next council meeting,register your name to ask questions, and ask what the total plan for consolidation consists of. Get the debt numbers for the companies,How many pieces of apparatus you are going to lose,how far away your firefighting equipment will be housed etc! I can almost guarantee they will not answer you as a citizen of Columbia Borough,they will avoid this at all costs! And for the artillery piece that sits at the end of the bridge...the historian will take this piece if he wants it bad enough.The trust for the market house must have taken lessons from certain members of council...if you are not in their click,you are DENIED!
    Have you wondered why there is freshly paved asphalt in front of a certain council persons home when the rest of Columbia looks like **** ? Wake up people!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. answers exist for ALL of those questions pertaining to consolidation of the fire companies. one company has been asking those questions, and not receiving answers has been demonized and degraded by this council and the remaining companies. even in some cases by fellow citizens who won't question whats being spoon fed to them.

      Delete
  7. over all the Government does own it. the end, get over it

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It could be argued that the people ARE the government.

      Delete
  8. I thought there were brass plates either on the cannon or on the ground that stated why the cannons were there and/or who donated them to the Boro. Maybe Charlie Smithgall or Reeves Gehring would have the information.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Agreed, Mr Gehring would be the best to ask...He is a true Historian...

      Delete
  9. To all that is involved in the market disaster. It is with a sad tone, that I am replying years later in reference to the market which is still failing since the trust took over. It saddens me to see that the vendors continue to stay in the dark and the market becomes vacant. I fought to disband the trust and won..only to find several days later they were reinstated. I still believe in my passion and offer my help in saving the market in exchange for my owed salary that the trust refuses to pay. When I was at market the place was filled with many great memories which were made and will forever be remembered. People laughed, danced and hung around . I was blessed to meet great vendors and see them blossomed. I hope the borough sees the pleas of the vendors and know that it can change... if they take the power. The borough has an out clause . I am willing to offer my guidance and help moving forward in exchange for my one months salary. Sincerely Carmen

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you, Carmen. The council needs to move on this issue. It never gets resolved and never goes away.

      Delete
  10. Council made a decision to let the Trust run the market and they need to stand by their decision. The time to argue against the Trust was before the Borough agreed to give it to the Trust, not now !! Perhaps a happy medium would be to demand that the Trust has a public meeting once a month to let the public know what they doing and ask questions. That's only fair as they are messing with tax payers money and they should be more then happy to be accountable to the public, right ?

    ReplyDelete
  11. Who exactly is " The Trust" , and what is their official phone number and e-mail address. At this point, obviously, everyone should be asking them a few questions !

    ReplyDelete
  12. Citizens of Columbia Borough. Issues have been brought forth and now is the time to question out town council. The sewer authority was sold to LASA and what does that mean for the citizens. Apparently Councilman Smith knows or knew something as to the whys and whats and yet the rest of the council still decides to sell. Watch the bill rise just to take a S***! Freaking amazing!.

    It's gets better when taxes are going to increase, our school taxes will increase and for what? Just to graduate 80-85 kids a year on average and to keep our football "Dynasty" afloat! Seriously! When I was in high school Columbia was getting their asses handed to them year after year. A dynasty indeed!

    Fire company consolidation is the next biggest joke on this forum. I have several questions to be answered and I hope a media person picks up on this and tracks me down. I have a story to tell you when the time is right. How is it that council can rescind their vote when the entire consolidation committee was not informed of a change in venue of their regular meeting and then all of a sudden a letter of proposal comes to council and they re-vote it? Bravo! backdoor politicians led by councilwoman Barninger and then threw her husband into the mix who happens to be the consolidation committee chairman. WOW! Next the question was asked if there was a conflict of interest between Councilwoman Barninger who sits on council and is an officer at one of the companies in consolidation. The comment was made I don't get paid for any of this so it is not a conflict. UH bit of a problem there Mary, If memory serves me correctly council gets compensated for sitting on council so no conflict there? Hmmm! I can go on but I will save the good stuff for later.

    So as Jerry says this is my final thought. Politicians be politicians but remember one thing your actions now could cost you down the road! People will remember back door BS especially if it comes to light around election time. Have a nice day! Sincerely anonymous

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. If you would like to communicate with me in confidence, please email me at:
      coleumber@gmail.com

      Delete
  13. I get a big kick out of these clowns that shoot off their mouths so boldly and then, like the cowards they are, sign their rants with "anonymous"! Ed Jones

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It would not be like this if the people who have money would not be greedy and want more, more and more! These people know who they are and dont give a DAM about nothing BUT!!

      Delete
  14. The Columbia fire companies do need to consolidate. They can serve a small community like this with one company. They have operated almost like "gangs" for many years, kids wanted to join or belong to them and held onto that identity. It's time to let that go and move forward to serve the borough and not to serve loyalty to a company. A large, group effort will be better for Columbia. Same goes for the school district, it's past time to merge. We cannot continue like it is. I am a taxpayer that cannot afford to support the school district employees, the police department and other borough workers anymore. It has simply become too costly for the few taxpayers left here in Columbia.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. When a call comes in, it IS a large group effort currently. Consolidation will not change that.And as a borough firefighter, I take offense to your "gangs" comment.

      Delete
  15. LASA has to happen, the cost to repair and upgrade the current system will sink the borough. We cannot rely on jimmy jones's eyeball inspection, as he said from what he sees it looks pretty good! What kind of nonsense is that?

    ReplyDelete
  16. That was always my question: Why isn't the "Trust" on the hot seat? Why are they cloaked in secrecy? Why does borough council answer for and protect them? They need to sit in front of the citizens as council does and answer for their decisions.

    ReplyDelete
  17. YES, agreed...the people ARE the government and it's time we are standing up for OUR rights!!! Anyone that is complacent enough to say "get over it" has to be a sheep, led by a corrupted group at the top. Too lazy to fight. Certainly not interested in the history of this borough. Columbia has a right to keep what has been here. This man that appeared out of nowhere making repeated threats to take this piece of artillery needs to know that Columbia isn't surrendering anything without a fight.

    ReplyDelete
  18. Thank you first, for posting these issues in an open forum and encouraging dialogue!

    While believe it is prudent to consolidate our fire companies for fiscal purposes, for staffing and training continuity, and for the betterment of the town, I am deeply troubled with Council Person Barninger both for her role as Public Safety Chair and for her commentary and personal involvement in what is supposed to be a "town issue". It is well known that both Council Person Barninger and her spouse have a history and affiliation with the fire station on Manor Street. While there is nothing wrong with that, it is inappropriate and a conflict of interest in my opinion for her to make commentary at public meetings, refuse to recuse herself from voting on issues where her roles might conflict, and just not a positive image for council or the fire company for that matter.

    To date, I believe that no one has singularly asked her about this topic - it needs to be addressed.

    ReplyDelete
  19. This whole issue on the consolidation is to accomplish one thing foremost, that is to pay off Columbia #1 Fire Department's MULTI- MILLION DOLLAR debt!!! Dig for the facts and you shall see for yourself!!!

    ReplyDelete
  20. I am concerned about the closing of the uptown station on 10th Street. I have heard there would be no delay in response if the only two stations were the Manor Street station and the Front Street station......unless a slow moving freight train is moving on the secondary line. I have sat over 10 minutes waiting for one of those trains to pass. A lot can burn in 10 minutes. Hope we use common sense and close the Front Street station and keep the uptown station open. It would make more sense to have a station on the south side of town and one on the north side of town.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. The "plan" is to close both uptown and downtown.

      Delete
  21. Who is the "Trust", or don't we deserve to know ?

    ReplyDelete
  22. Is "The Trust" even required to keep the building as a "Market", or does the lease allow them to do whatever they want to with the building as long as they make the payments ?, not that it matters.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Good question. Unfortunately, I don't know the answer. The enterprise seems shrouded in secrecy.

      Delete
  23. The Market House has a web page but there is no information listed with the committee members who comprise the Trust. I cannot find meeting dates, times, agenda, or minutes listed, and commentary on the Facebook page is minimal and a bit "snarky"- does anyone have access to this information?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I've provided some of that information on today's post (July 19, 2014).

      Delete
  24. the VOTE on selling the sewer SHOULD be on the ballet....the powers to be have let this town down...yet again...and theres NO way to get it back once its sold.....the boro should have NEVER EVER SOLD the sewer plant.....VETO...VETO...VETO..... and NO council did NOT do their homework with this vote.

    ReplyDelete
  25. thank you Cole....i'm not a robot and now i can read the numbers!!!!! i appreciate it :)

    ReplyDelete