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Honesdale rehashes safety issues

By OWEN WALSH
Posted 11/13/19

HONESDALE, PA — On November 6, a child was struck by a car while using the crosswalk in front of the Wayne County Library on North Main Street. The collision sent her 10 feet down the road, but …

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Honesdale rehashes safety issues

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HONESDALE, PA — On November 6, a child was struck by a car while using the crosswalk in front of the Wayne County Library on North Main Street. The collision sent her 10 feet down the road, but she survived the accident with only minor scratches. At this month’s council meeting on November 11, the child’s mother requested that the borough install flashing crosswalk warning lights in front of the library, like those located at some crosswalks downtown and on Church Street. She said that North Main Street is very dark at night, and that with all the after-school programs the library holds, children use that crosswalk frequently.

Over the past several months, there have been at least two fatal pedestrian accidents in the area. In August, an 85-year-old woman died after getting hit by a vehicle while crossing 8th Street. A man was killed while walking along Fair Avenue in September.

Pedestrian safety in general has been an ongoing topic at council meetings. Most recently, the borough made adjustments to the timing of traffic signals at the Park Street intersection near Hotel Wayne to improve pedestrian safety. They have said they have plans to do the same at the 4th Street intersection at the other end of town.

In response to the mother’s request, borough president Mike Augello said that installing crosswalk signals in front of the library wouldn’t happen “overnight,” and estimated that each individual signal costs tens of thousands of dollars.

The existing signals were purchased using past community development block grant money.

Augello also said that because it involves a state road, PennDOT has the final say. Robert Jennings said he would call PennDOT to open up discussions about what could be done.

Adding yet another wrinkle to the ongoing police staffing issue, the council unanimously voted to undo action that it took just last week.

“Last meeting, I made a motion that we would change the police shift from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. [leaving the remaining two shifts to be covered by state police],” said Jennings. “In talking with the chief, he’s gone over his schedule, and so forth, and we came up with this [motion] to replace my motion from last week.”

Jennings reported that Chief Richard Southerton said that he could schedule his officers to consistently cover the first two shifts of the day and sometimes cover the midnight to 8 a.m. shift.

“This just reverts back?” Jim Jennings asked.
“We’re going back to the way it was, with some better news that [Chief Southerton] is going to work with the officers and get some more positive results,” Augello answered.

With that motion passed, Robert Jennings moved to undo another staffing decision from last week.

At last week’s meeting, councilors unanimously voted to allocate up to $12,000 in the budget to develop a civil service list of eligible police officers, so that they would have a pool of candidates to choose from, should they have the opportunity to hire additional officers, or need to replace an existing full-time officer, at some point in 2020.

However, in the same meeting, the council also voted to tentatively adopt a budget which did not include funds to hire additional police officers.

At this week’s meeting, Jennings made a motion to reverse that decision, and not spend the money on making that list, unless funds were added to the budget to hire additional police officers. After some back-and-forth among councilors, Southerton and Honesdale Mayor Sarah Canfield, Jennings eventually withdrew the motion. For now, borough still plans to develop a list of eligible candidates, but does not plan to raise taxes in order to actually hire additional officers in 2020.

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