NARROWSBURG, NY — A group of 45 concerned residents of the Narrowsburg flats participated in the September 8 Tusten Town Board meeting. Calling itself The Flats Neighborhood Watch, the group told the board that a rise in crime on the flats has left residents fearing for their safety and experiencing diminished quality of life.
The group’s three spokespersons, Iris Helfeld, Greg Triggs and Tim Mackabee, detailed known crime facts, including evidence of burglaries, discovery of drug paraphernalia in public spaces and defacing of public and private property.
Helfeld spoke about unlawful entry of a house uninhabited for more than a year, following a foreclosure proceeding. She said witnesses have reported suspicious activity in the house, theft of appliances and graffiti painted on interior walls. Currently managed by a foreclosure company aware of the vandalism, the house is being observed by residents of neighboring homes equipped with motion detector lights and security cameras.
Helfeld also said needles and other drug paraphernalia have been found on the recreation field as well as in the parking lot of the long-shuttered medical center building and in the turnaround at the end of Delaware Drive.
The group put forth several suggestions that it hopes will discourage criminal activity, among them adoption of a loitering prohibition ordinance; reduction of posted speed limit in Narrowsburg to 25 mph; installation of speed bumps; and mounting of surveillance cameras with motion detector sensors and night vision capability at the single street access point to the flats. Intended to provide a date and time-stamped visual record of all visitors to the flats, the legality of mounting concealed cameras in public was questioned by Anie Stanley.
Supervisor Ben Johnson said he’ll consult the town attorney about legal ramifications of surveillance camera use, just as Stephen Stuart reminded the board that mounting of surveillance cameras on the armature of new LED streetlights is one option available under the town’s streetlight replacement project.
Suggesting that representatives from the neighborhood watch group meet informally with a committee of town board members to explore viable solutions, Johnson enlisted deputy supervisor Jane Luchsinger to join him in a meeting with Helfeld and Triggs on September 14.
Asking if the turnaround at the end of Delaware Drive could be eliminated, neighborhood watch member Sue Powell said the group had been informed that the turnaround was created for use by school buses, and she wondered if it is still used for that purpose. If not, she asked if blocking it off could be considered.
Flats resident Naomi Holoch asked how non-emergency crimes should be reported. Johnson replied that they should be directed to either the Sullivan County Sheriff’s Office (845/794-7100 ext. 1) or the Narrowsburg barracks of the New York State Police (845/252-3212). Asked which would produce the fastest response time, Johnson said that, in either case, the nearest available patrol car would respond.
In other business, scheduling of a public hearing for the water district improvement project is on hold, at least until completion of an archeological dig currently underway.
Bridge Street store owner Juliette Hermant inquired whether there might be room for five parking spaces on Bridge Street. Bridge Street parking has been restricted between the two bridges (the interstate bridge and the railroad bridge with the recently enacted Local Law #255). The law took effect on September 4. Johnson agreed to meet with Hermant to take measurements and explore the possibility of limited parking spaces.
Resident Star Hesse asked if a print copy of town board meeting agendas could be made available prior to virtual meetings. Johnson said that would be possible, although maybe unnecessary, as the Tuesday, October 13 regular town board meeting can, under Gov. Cuomo’s current COVID-19 meeting criteria, be held live. Noting that the board plans to hold that meeting both live and on Zoom, Johnson said the agenda for it will be available either on the town’s website or by email per individual request.