Wednesday, November 5, 2014

More on the Locust Street Park lease

Columbia Borough Council tabled a resolution empowering police to enforce park rules at Locust Street Park, until its November 10 meeting, due to insurance issues.  At its October 27 Meeting of the Whole, council considered Resolution 14-18, a lease agreement with the Old Columbia Public Grounds Company (OCPGC) to give the borough jurisdiction over the park. Park maintenance would continue to be handled by OCPGC. Currently, police cannot legally enforce park rules unless requested by OCPGC but can enforce laws in the Crimes Code.

A motion was made and seconded to accept the resolution, but a spontaneous discussion erupted before the measure could be voted on. Councillor Jim Smith asked why police cited people for offenses there in the past, since the park has always been private property. Borough Manager Sam Sulkosky explained, "Since it's private property, our police are limited on what they can enforce and what they can't enforce."
Smith replied, "They always enforced it." 
Mayor Leo Lutz said, "The laws have changed. If it's private property, we cannot cite people," but added, "We can enforce curfew."
"If a person who owns a property observes an illegal activity they can call the police and have them cited," Lutz said.

Lutz also said OCPGC is currently struggling, and if it disbands, ownership of the park will be transferred to the borough, which will then be responsible for maintenance, in addition to enforcement. "It reverts to the borough, same as any cemetery," Lutz said.

Liability insurance is required under the lease, similar to the agreement the borough has with Columbia River Park. Councillors questioned the need for the borough to carry insurance, since the park is already covered under the OCPGC's policy. Mary Wickenheiser, a member of the borough planning commission, cited the difference between the borough's relationship with Columbia River Park and the proposed agreement for Locust Street Park. "The lease of that River Park and the lease of this park are two totally different situations. The lease on the River Park was for the borough to use that property, for the borough to basically have control of that property," she said.

After a brief discussion, council voted to table the lease until its next meeting so that insurance issues could be investigated


Anonymous said...

you've got to be kidding me. seriously. wth is with the Mayor and his excuses. i agree with Jim SMith here. the PArk has ALWAYS BEEN ENFORCED by Police. this makes absolutely NO sense. then i guess Police can NOT enforce anything on private property. really? then I guess its time to regionalize and get rid of the entire Police force, Chief and Mayor. because IF the Police can NOT enforce private property theres no reason to have em.THIS IS MORE BS AND STALL TACTICS.

Anonymous said...

Is it illegal for a gaggle of twenty cursing, rowdy teens to gather along the walkway while a couple pushes their baby stroller down the pathway through their group? Probably not, but I can guess that family people won't be coming back for a repeat. I witnessed that while walking up Locust Street on the last Fourth Friday. I wanted to run over and tell them to turn around.

Anonymous said...

The article doesn't explain the conversation very well. Police can and do enforce the PA Crimes Code and Columbia Borough Ordinances in the park, like they do anywhere else. However, Police cannot enforce Park regulations as if they were laws. Park regulations are NOT laws. For example, it is against Park regulations to have a skateboard in the park. However, if someone decides to ride a skateboard against the regulations, Police cannot arrest this person for the specific offense of riding a skateboard in the park. There is no enforceable LAW against riding a skateboard in the park. However, if the regulations are adopted as ordinances, then an arrest could be made.

I don't understand why you think "getting rid of the entire Police force" would solve the problem. The Police enforce laws. Arrests have been made in the park for violations of Borough Ordinances and the PA Crimes Code. The Police can't enforce laws that don't exist.

Anonymous said...

No article could explain that conversation very well. People were interrupting and talking over each other, but most of all, the entire issue remained usual.

Joe Lintner said...

The commenter at 8:20 AM gives a good explanation of the situation: "Police cannot enforce Park regulations as if they were laws. Park regulations are NOT laws."
That's the gist of it. If council agrees to the proposed arrangement, police will have enforcement powers in the park. That's essentially what I stated in the opening paragraph.
The point may have gotten lost in the segment of conversation I included above, due to the nature of debate among several speakers, that of often meandering discourse.