Resident unhappy with Akron Borough’s response to complaint Also, mayor funds tree-planting in Colonial Park

By on April 18, 2012

By: KIMBERLY MARSELAS Review Correspondent, Staff Writer

Shown are the new trees recently planted at Akron's Colonial Park. (Photo by Preston Whitcraft)

A resident who last month accused Akron Borough officials of acting too slowly to help her combat water damage from a neighbor’s property, returned April 9 to blast the council as "an ineffectual body."

At council’s monthly meeting, Carolyn Williams of South Ninth Street rehashed her complaints about an adjacent property owner’s upkeep and lodged an appeal after the borough’s solicitor said that that property did not fail to meet the borough’s maintenance code. She said Shirk’s written response to her initial complaints described peeling paint and other problems as "de minimis," or trivial.

"It might be de minimis to you people, but it’s not de minimis to me," said Williams, who previously claimed to have spent $12,000 on repairs to her home because of water flowing from next door. "What really is troubling is that you’re not doing anything about this problem not because you can’t, but because you won’t."

Williams said she had also contacted the Human Relations Commission in Harrisburg regarding an earlier complaint she made about borough manger Dan Guers after the borough failed to respond to her concerns in writing within 30 days,

In a statement read by Solicitor Kenelm Shirk III, council acknowledged that it had asked another attorney to conduct an investigation into Williams’ harassment allegation. But Shirk said that Attorney Susan Friedman had not been able to gather needed information from Williams or her lawyer.

"Since the matter is now in litigation, council and borough officials will decline further comment on any complaints or matters involving Ms. Williams."

At the same meeting, resident Jesse Weaver asked council about its plan for building a playground at Colonial Park. The borough has stopped allowing soccer on the park’s field and recently completed a tree-planting project, paid for privately by Mayor John McBeth, that brings new life to the area.

"There are a lot of parents who would be willing to put some time in there," Weaver said.

McBeth said that the park equipment would not equal the "magnitude" of what is available at Broad Street Park, but asked Guers to provide a manual so a committee could begin considering what equipment is feasible with the available budget.

Council President Tom Murray said he hoped to have something in place by the end of the school year.

In other news, officials provided an update on the multi-municipality rails to trails project. Guers has completed an application to fund a majority of the trail’s second phase, which will stretch from near Millway Road in Akron, through Ephrata Township to Warwick Township.

The $279,000 grant would include some funding for a culvert to take hikers and bike riders under Main Street in Akron. Akron would be required to match part of the grant, at a cost of about $99,000. Parks and Personnel committee chairman John Taylor said the borough is also still researching costs and methods to control crossings at at-grade intersections.

Work on the trail, if funded, will resume after the state completes another culvert project that has delayed local construction by more than a year.

"As I understand it, everything now is scheduled to be done in 2015," McBeth said.

Council also discussed the county’s proposed storm water management updates, which would eventually require the borough to rewrite its own ordinance. Shirk called the latest draft "a complete rewrite" that largely disregarded two years of work done by local solicitors and engineers.

In a letter sent to the county planning commission April 5, Shirk decried the "emasculation" of the previous draft and said the current iteration is too subjective and "opens up the substantial likelihood" that new standards would be challenged by developers.

Council asked Shirk to send a second letter on behalf of McBeth and Murray, telling county commissioners that the proposed changes need "more time and more justification" before being passed by local municipalities. More AKRON, page A17

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