Friday, July 31, 2015

Thursday, July 30, 2015

Coming soon - Advanced Auto Parts

Advanced Auto Parts will be moving into the space about to be vacated by Columbia Family Restaurant at the Columbia Plaza. 

It's baaack!

Or at least it was, until borough workers returned it to its rightful place. As was the case yesterday morning, someone had moved this picnic table onto a dock at Columbia River Park this morning.

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

This Friday's blue moon won't be blue at all

The trash goes into the cans, not next to them

An observant visitor to Columbia River Park submitted this photo of a bag of trash that was deposited next to the trash cans there. Trash is to be deposited into the cans, not next to them. Even so, this location is not a drop-off for one's household trash.

Fourth Street is much cleaner now

This afternoon, Columbia Spy noted that the 100 block of South Fourth Street is quite a bit cleaner, which is interesting, considering the street sweeper was reported to be out of service this week.  Previously, this block had been lined with trash and litter.

The photos above were taken today.  Below is a video showing the condition of the block at the beginning of the month:

And here's how it looked this past Sunday:

It's an uphill battle from Columbia to the Olympics

This gentleman was seen this morning trudging up the hill on Lancaster Avenue, near Glatfelter's. When asked why he was doing this, he replied, "No English." It turns out he is Chen Guan Ming, a Chinese rice farmer who is on his way to the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. More info can be found on his website HERE.

He was seen entering Little's Beverage before departing east on Route 462.

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

What's wrong with this picture?

An alert resident took this photo this morning at Columbia River Park. Is that really a picnic table on the dock? Why, yes, it appears to be.

Columbia Borough Police reportedly made them put it back shortly after this photo was taken.

Collapsing? Condemned? Codes? Conduct?

At Monday night's meeting of the whole, Columbia Borough Council once again discussed safety concerns about the property at 208-210 Locust Street, which was recently thought to be in danger of collapse. Norm Meiskey, acting borough manager, said the building's front wall was reinforced, and barricades have been installed at the front of the building. "At present, the structural integrity was enhanced under the guidance of the borough's registered professional structural engineer," Meiskey said, and added that if the initial remediation had not been done, the facade probably would have come down.  Meiskey also said the borough had the barricades erected, because the owner did not comply with the requirements to do so by the deadline of June 26. Three separate charges have now been filed against owner Sam Bigler.  In addition, council said that any charges for the borough engineer will be passed on to property owner.

According to Meiskey, a registered professional engineer has designed a remediation plan for a bulging wall. Meiskey said the plan and the permit are in the hands of the building's owner.

"We're waiting for the structural engineer that was hired to give us the date in which it is to be complete," Meiskey said. "At this point in time, we do not have the schedule from him."

Several councillors remarked about the lack of urgency shown by Sam Bigler and asked when the borough could step in and take whatever action deemed necessary.  Meiskey said the borough can't demolish the building unless there is an imminent danger declared by the borough's engineer.

Renee Sears told council that the barricade at the front of the building crosses over onto a property owned by Daisy and Tony Pagan, owners of Perfect Settings at Second and Locust Streets.  She expressed concern about fire if people are trapped in an enclosed courtyard at the rear of the property.

"You've got people that could be dying if anything tragic happened there," Sears said. "I don't even know why anybody would want to save that building." Sears said that there are no beams in the basement of 208-210 Locust, because they were taken out, removing support from the building.  She cited the negative effect on the Pagans' business and said people are hesitant to hold functions at the business due to the condition of the neighboring property. Sears also cited an incident in which a code officer responded with obscenities to business owner Tony Pagan when Pagan questioned him about access to his property.

Columbia Borough Fire Chief Scott Ryno told council that Bigler did not respond with any sense of urgency when initially informed about the building's condition.  "The owner did absolutely nothing," Ryno said, adding that Bigler "outright refused" to respond and decided to wait several days to address issues with the building, even after being informed that the building was in danger of collapse. At the urging of council, Ryno said he would meet with Daisy Pagan on Tuesday to discuss access to the courtyard at her property.

Ryno said that another Bigler property, an occupied apartment building at 421 Walnut Street, rear, (also designated as 423 Avenue G) also had significant issues. He said a wall is bowed out, and a section of roof is collapsing. Ryno said that after he reported the building's condition to the codes department, someone was seen patching the roof with tar on a recent Sunday afternoon. Ryno said he found this to be unacceptable, because the building needs a new roof, not just a patch job. Meiskey said an evacuation order had originally been issued for the property but was deemed to be unnecessary after a structural engineer found that a new substructure had been installed inside the building.  Meiskey said additional remediation is still needed at the building.

A tenant of the building told council that a code enforcement officer had recently crossed out the date for the second time on a posted notice and added a note that the building is habitable to live in until further notice.  Meiskey said, "To my knowledge it was to be the end of the year." The tenant said not all permits were changed.  She stated that three different dates appear on permits on four doors leading to the building's five apartments. The tenant also said she was informed that parts of the east and west walls need to be replaced. She also said the roof was repaired using second hand materials on a Sunday of a holiday weekend.

Here is the notice referenced in this article, showing the changed dates.

The tenant stated that the code officer originally showed up at the building in a hoodie sweatshirt with no tags or other identification. "How is that proper as an employee of the borough?" she asked.

She also alleged that after the building had been condemned, the officer called her cellphone and apologized and said "I feel bad about this. Let me take you out to dinner and make it up to you."
She said she told him she did not think that was appropriate, but he allegedly said, "At least let me buy you a cup of coffee."

She said she saw the officer on Monday and ran back into her apartment, because she doesn't feel safe with him.  Council sat in stunned silence before adjourning to an executive session.

Photos of 208-210 Locust Street:

Photos provided by Daisy Pagan

Fox43 report on Club Good Times


Monday, July 27, 2015

Is it time to weed the bridge? Yes, it's long overdue!

The following video and photos were shot this afternoon on the Columbia end of the Veterans Memorial Bridge, showing crabgrass, and weeds - some higher than a yardstick - that have sprung up along the sidewalk. Although PennDOT is ultimately responsible for bridge maintenance, Columbia Borough had been cleaning the bridge and billing PennDOT, at least during the recent mayfly invasion. Regardless of who is responsible, however, the weeds and crabgrass need to be removed. They are an unsightly mess and create a negative first impression for motorists and pedestrians entering Columbia.

Sunday, July 26, 2015



The score so far: Club Good Times vs 100 block of South 4th

In citing his opposition to the recent court decision on Club Good Times, the mayor mentions "quality of life issues for residents in the area" of the establishment and specifies trash and public urination (LINK HERE). Possibly valid points, but are those issues any worse than at some other areas of town, in particular, the 100 block of South Fourth Street, where trash routinely lines gutters and after-dark activity reminds one of lines from a Guns N' Roses song:

   "Welcome to the jungle, it gets worse here every day,
     You learn to live like an animal in the jungle where we play . . ."

Although Columbia Spy has no evidence of public urination near the club or elsewhere, we did endeavor to check out the trash situation at Club Good Times this morning and found the following:

A few small items and a plastic straw.  
Granted, the club needs to get rid of a small number of weeds at the front entrance and in the alley - which, by the way, are much less obtrusive than at many other areas of town. Overall, though, the condition of the property was not bad for a Sunday morning, after what one assumes would have been a Saturday night of "activity."

Speaking of the 100 block of South Fourth, here's a quick video we shot as we walked there this morning:

We believe the video speaks for itself.

Saturday, July 25, 2015

Columbia strip club wins court ruling

In June, Lancaster County Court of Common Pleas Judge Margaret C. Miller reversed a Columbia zoning board's decision banning  nude dancing at Club Good Times.

Your money at work, working at the water company

Work continued at the Columbia Water Company Friday morning as workers moved a large piece of equipment during the ongoing upgrade project.

Near accident on Barber!

These boys were riding their bikes the wrong way on the 900 block of Barber Street the other day and were almost hit by incoming traffic. (Barber Street is one-way going east, from Plane Street to Twelfth Street.) Although most of them swerved to safety, and oncoming cars stopped in time, one of the boys collided with a fellow biker and fell onto the street, as seen above.  After he assured us he was all right, he rode away with his friends, apparently none the worse for wear but probably slightly embarrassed.

New dayglo uniforms for parking enforcement officers

Parking enforcement officers were recently issued new dayglo uniforms, as shown above.  The new outfits look professional and give officers more visibility in traffic but also allow nonpaying motorists to see them coming.

The saga of a squirrel and his ear of corn

This camera-shy squirrel, trying to enjoy a private meal, couldn't completely avoid the eye of the Columbia Spy.