Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Columbia Borough Council Committee of the Whole Meeting July 28, 2014

The regular monthly meeting of the Columbia Borough Council Committee of the Whole was held Monday, July 28, at 6 p.m. at Borough Hall, 308 Locust Street. Highlights of the meeting are as follows:

Council President Mike Beury announced that voting will no longer take place at Committee of the Whole meetings but only at regular monthly council meetings. Topics will require a motion in order to be taken up at the next council meeting, at which time a vote would take place. Exceptions would be an emergency or situations involving a deadline. When councillors questioned the new procedures, the meeting briefly turned contentious, with Beury stating he would step down as president and challenging any councillor to take his position, saying, "Who wants to take president? I'll step down." He added he would prefer going back to committee meetings (as opposed to meetings of the whole).

Columbia Historic Market House Trust:  Council discussed concerns about the trust's lack of communication with vendors and council. Councillor Barry Ford stated that he, Mayor Leo Lutz, President Beury, and Borough Manager Sam Sulkosky met with six members of the trust and their consultant, Ken Kauffman, last Wednesday night. According to Ford, the trust wants to increase vendors and foot traffic in the Columbia Market House and attract more "green" stands. It would also like to implement improvements and a second phase of a 1998 study, which include interior renovations, a refrigerated area, and repairs to the brick floor to make it level. 
Ford said he was concerned about the secrecy of the trust's meetings but reported that the trust wants to be more open. He also said, "Something needs to be done over there," referring to the lack of market house vendors (only five or six currently remaining.) Ford said  one day a week for the market was plenty and three is too much. He said that Thursday had originally been chosen to eliminate competition with Root's Market and The Green Dragon. Ford commented that he is concerned the market is failing.

Ford said the picnic tables previously reported missing had been sold to a youth group in Donegal. He added that there is a procedure for getting rid of borough property, and said, "I don't think the proper procedure was followed in this case.” He added that the tables could have been used elsewhere in the borough. Former Councillor Renae Sears said the eight tables cost about $119 each.   A vendor at the meeting stated that tablecloths purchased by a vendor also disappeared.  Sulkosky said the trust apologized for the removal.  

Lutz mentioned seasonal produce stand holders leaving after their produce is no longer in season. He said they do not all want to ship produce from other areas simply to maintain a stand all year long. He said if the trust wants "ag in there," they [the trust] have to be more flexible. Lutz also said that a trust newsletter has not been distributed for a year. He said that when the trust was created, market committee meetings stopped but now need to be resumed. Lutz said that in the short term, the trust should open the lines of communication with the council and stand holders.

Sulkosky said the trust is a year away from having a written plan. He said there were communication problems between the trust and vendors as evidenced by the recent vendors' petition. Sulkosky said the council needs to bring the trust into compliance from a financial reporting standpoint. He said the annual audit report is due within 90 days from the first of the year. Lutz said lack of compliance would give the borough grounds for breach of contract.

A vendor present said "It's about what they [the trust] want, not what the customers want. They don't listen."

Trash at River Park and on Locust Street:  Councillor Ford suggested removing trash barrels from River Park due to people depositing their trash from the river islands (in Manor Township) when they disembark at the park. Council also discussed posting signs informing the public to take their trash with them.   Ford made a motion to put the issue on August's regular council meeting agenda. Renae Sears stated that some residents along Locust Street place trash in public trash receptacles along the street. Council noted that rental properties on Locust have dumpsters in the rear but that it is more convenient for tenants to deposit trash in the public receptacles.

Traffic Concerns:  Council heard from George and Janet Scwhwert of 901 Park Avenue regarding traffic hazards near their property. Janet Schwert said their porch has been hit twice by vehicles and that cars regularly travel at high speeds up Ninth Street past their property. She said he is afraid to sit on her porch and commented that Manor Street used to be the “racetrack,” and now it's Ninth Street.  Council discussed installing speed limit signs at the intersection.  A borough resident asked whether a speed bump could be installed, but Lutz replied that doing so would hinder snow plowing.  Councillors said installing 4-way stop signs would require an ordinance change. Finally, Councillor Smith made a motion to advertise an ordinance change for items b and c on the meeting agenda: 
  b. Discussion regarding a 4-way stop sign at 9th and Ridge Streets and 9th and Locust Streets.
  c. Discussion on School District request for a 4-way stop sign at 8th and Locust and Permit Parking  for 600 block of Cherry Street.

Budget:  Councillor Smith stated he wants money the borough gets from the Lancaster County Solid Waste Management Authority and Verizon to be earmarked for continued road work in the borough. Finance Manager Georgianna Schreck stated that the $62,000 from those entities is being used to balance the budget. She said the amortization payments for police pensions has jumped from $270,000 to $420,000, and the water company got a 40% increase in health insurance. She said this year should be a “wait-and-see” year in terms of budget purchases. She added that the borough farm could possibly generate some income. She stated that the total shortfall this year is $700,000. Sulkosky added that the first priority is to balance the budget.

Quick Ticket:  The “Quick Ticket” ordinance was also discussed, which allows parking officers to become enforcement officers in citing code violations. Ford stated he wants application of the ordinance to be consistent and  there should be “no selective enforcement.”

Parking Meters:  Council also discussed the recent parking meter rate increase. It was noted that currently the only notification of the increase on the meters is a handwritten note inside the clear cover. Stickers will be soon be applied to the meters announcing the rate change.

Bridge Lights:  Lutz clarified funding for maintenance of the new bridge lights. He stated that PennDOT has allocated $10-12,000 for the maintenance, and that any maintenance done by the borough will be billed to PennDOT.

A ribbon-cutting for bridge lights is set for Friday September 19, 2014 at 3 p.m. (per a council member, but the meeting agenda listed it as 2:30-4:30 p.m.)

Detour:  Council also discussed recent confusion regarding the truck detour due to closing of Front Street as well as solutions to remedy the problem.


  1. Thanks for breaking this meeting down into an easy read format.

  2. If a boro worker took home a shovel and sold it, I'd bet "sorry" wouldn't be good enough. He'd be fired and charged.


  3. Yes,very nice read

  4. Why does council serve as the middle-man for the Trust? I simply cannot understand why the Trust members cannot or will not attend public meetings and answer questions. This isn't the middle east peace talks, we don't need mediators. If the Trust wants us to "trust" their judgement they need to earn it.

  5. Since we don't have a Cola news anymore this blog is a really nice avenue to inform the residents of the boro what is going on in their town. This coverage of the council mtg. is really good. This will allow residents to know what issue coming up may impact them, & they may attend the next meeting or contact a councilor to convey their thoughts. The towns residents in the know, not just a few.

  6. I love the shovel is so true. At my workplace, a long term kitchen employee was fired because she ate cake that was going to be thrown out. They considered it to be stealing. My point is if the trust removed and sold the tables without going through the proper channels, wouldn't this be "cause enough" to release all members from their positions. Clean house and bring in new members.

  7. yep. get rid of each and every market house trust member. they do not follow the rules and do what they want. hopefully the boro sends em packing and does a little searching before messing up so bad again.

  8. Why not go with speed tables along 9th st? That is what they use in Lancaster City around F&M. I imagine they would not be an issue for the snow plows but I don't really know. But something has to happen on 9th St. Someone is going to die at 9th and Locust if action is not taken.

  9. Anyone for relocating the SVCC from the dumpy shack by Rt. 30 and putting that in the market house? Imagine a Chamber of Commerce- in the heart of town?..

  10. Here's a good read from 2005 about market house. Now the thing to do is find out what the regulation / restrictions are if any in the grant(s) that were collected for market house to make things clear of what can or can't be done to the market house.

  11. They didn't call this town LITTLE CHICAGO for nothing!!

  12. Look, the County made a commitment to this great Market House in 2005 for good reason, and the County needs to help us get through this situation by throwing some more money at it to make it what is should be, and a great Landmark for all of Lancaster County !! This is the oldest "contiounlessly operating" market house in the USA !! , and it is too late to turn back now !!

    Cle Berntheizel, President of the Trust was absolutely right when he was quoted in the recent Lancaster Newspaper article as saying that "The Market House deserves a second chance" , and furthermore, Columbia deserves to have a Market House !!

    only thing is, the Trust does not deserve a second chance !! The Market House was handed to them on a silver platter and they screwed it up, big time. No Trust, and No individual deserves a second chance on the Market House. Cle Berntheizel needs to be a man about it, and bow out. Game Over. Let Borough Council once again hire a new and better market manager, better then ever. And let "Uncle Leo" go and beg the County for a little forgiveness, and one more round of " Urban Enhancement" grant money to keep the Best Market House in the USA alive !

  13. The dead end on blunston street has 2 huge propane tanks above ground. These tanks are own by kleen-rite, this should be address before something goes terribly wrong. Like an explosion!! If these tanks BLOW UP plus the gas lines under the street, look for 2 to 3 blocks to be flatten!! people will be killed, the boro will be responsible for this tragedy!!!!!!

  14. The speed bump idea was shot down immediately by mayor Lutz due to snow plowing. The safety that a speed bump could offer all year long vs. a few plowable snows doesn't seem to balance tossing the idea. There are speed bumps around Columbia high school and obviously they plow that area when needed.

  15. the market trust IS the problem. remove every one of them. they g=had a fair chance at it and blew it big time. such an arrogant bunch.

  16. Just hire a good manager, one with Experience and a track record