Akron chief has convoy safety concerns

By on May 22, 2019

Akron Police Chief Tom Zell had some nice things to say about the Make-A-Wish convoy that rolls through Akron every Mother’s Day. There’s the excitement, the spectators, the horns, the dreams-come-true reasons for the event.

The chief hemmed and hawed a little bit, then, “I’ll just come right out and say it. They go too fast through our traffic lights. And I don’t like toddlers sitting in the laps of drivers.”

Zell said some trucks hit 30 miles an hour through the borough. He added that he saw for the first time this year trucks towing trailers holding other vehicles, and there were people in the trailered vehicles. His other safety concern was the general non-use of seat belts. And he hit several times on the issue of toddlers at the steering wheels.

Zell said he plans to discuss his safety concerns with the convoy’s organizers.

Another issue Zell brought to light, not for the first time, are rented houses within the borough that are possibly occupied by drug dealers. There are two particularly egregious examples, one on

North 9th, and another on South 9th. He said he’d like to see an ordinance on the borough books holding landlords accountable for illegal activity on their property.
There was some discussion about whether or not such an ordinance should apply to all properties rather than to only rentals. Council and Zell tentatively agreed to work together on a solution.

In other drug news, Mayor John McBeth read some statistics from the county district attorney recounting the work of the county’s inter-municipal drug task force. McBeth said the DA report detailed 36 arrests in the most recent quarter, with 60 new cases investigated, $156,000 in cash seized along with an arsenal of handguns, shotguns and knives, and 15 vehicles with a market value of $60,000. The DA’s report also noted that the task force is currently conducting 20 investigations, one of which is in Akron.

Two residents voiced concerns about overgrown weeds, one location in a development on Westview Drive, and the other on the narrow strip of borough-owned land between Front Street and the rail trail. Borough Manager Sue Davidson made note of both cases.

In her report to council, Davidson said a storm water project on Bomberger Road was finished, and that a streambank abatement project on the unnamed stream between the rail trail and Bomberger Road properties had begun. Also:

  • A pothole on Oak Street across from Maple Farm had become so big that Martin Paving had been hired to fix it.
  • A water main break on April 30 resulted in the loss of 150,000 gallons of water, and necessitated a boil-your-water warning to residents in the Colonial Drive neighborhood. She said residents were wonderfully understanding. A rupture in a five-foot section of water main was the cause of the break. It was replaced.
  • The borough’s public works summer help will consist of high school students who will begin working after graduation.
  • Public works regular employees will be using rented crack sealing equipment to seal cracks in borough streets from June 10 to 14, weather permitting.
  • Akron Day in the Park is set for Saturday June 8.
  • The Akron Mennonite Church presented a conceptual plan to the borough office for a memory garden and nature preserve in the borough.
  • A zoning hearing is scheduled for June 20 to examine plans for off-street parking by the Enterprise Car Rental company on Route 272.
  • The Walnut Street paving project will proceed as planned this year, at a cost of $63,300.

Council approved, by a vote of five to two, a motion to name Davidson the permit officer for short-term rental licensing. The nay votes were out of concern for adding more duties to Davidson’s workload. Council also passed a resolution clarifying the fee schedule for short-term rental permits. The resolution states that if the cost of issuing a license exceeds the licensing fee, then the property owner, rather than the borough, will be responsible for the extra cost.

Council member Darryl Witmer joined in a discussion about plans for the borough’s 125th anniversary, which coincides with the Mennonite Central Committee’s centennial. Discussion about some kind of joint observance ensued.

Parks committee chair Nathan Imhoff presented a case for, and several samples of, permeable rubber-based surfaces on the borough’s playgrounds. Mulch now covers those areas which is a yearly expense. Imhoff said mulch can also harbor spores which can aggravate asthma conditions in children.

Mayor McBeth wondered if any thought had been given to suggestions from years back about shelters for Red Rose riders who wait for, and get off, the bus where Route 272 and Main Street meet.

He thinks shelters might help encourage more use of mass transit.

Dick Wanner is a reporter/photographer with The Ephrata Review. He can be reached at rwanner.eph@lnpnews.com. 

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