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Ordinances, cameras aimed at crowd problems
Borough officials are hoping new surveillance cameras and additional ordinances will resolve loitering issues at Ephrata’s downtown plaza.
The community services committee recommended moving forward three ordinances for borough council’s consideration during a meeting Monday that attracted several downtown merchants.
The ordinances address littering, smoking, and other activities.
Robert Good, committee chair, said the move would designate the plaza, which includes the welcome center, Chamber offices areas, and restored railroad station as a recreational area.
A proposed non-smoking ordinance would restrict the use of tobacco by minors — defined as tobacco and simulated tobacco.
“This restricts tobacco use of any kind,” Good said. “It includes e-cigarettes by persons under the age of 18. That will be enforceable by a summary action to go before the district justice.”
A littering ordinance seeks to strengthen an existing law to prohibit the depositing of litter in public places, regulates the posting of handbills, and the disposing of waste, trash and other debris.
“This ordinance puts teeth into an ordinance that’s going to prohibit littering,” he said. “If someone comes out and throws their candy wrapper and a police officer sees that then a summons can be given.”
Another ordinance seeks to add the “Whistle Stop” plaza to the list of recreational area and under the same rules and regulations administrated at the borough parks.
The ordinances have been approved by the borough solicitor and will be ready for discussion at borough council’s work session Aug. 4.
During Monday’s meeting, Police Chief William Harvey said a new “expandable” surveillance system will soon replace current cameras that are “poor at best.”
Harvey and Borough Manager Robert Thompson met with security companies two weeks ago to discuss camera options. Mayor Ralph Mowen said the borough is looking at grants and other funding options available to pay for the upgrade.
“We are looking at a system now that records …and where we can pull the tapes and zoom in on a license tag so many feet down the road,” Harvey said.
The borough received estimates for the camera system which includes a portable camera system that can be moved for “various needs such as the Ephrata Fair and other large events,” Harvey said.
“But then again too, that comes with a huge price tag,” Harvey said.
Patrick Burns is a staff writer and editor for The Ephrata Review. He welcomes your questions and comments and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or at 721-4455