For God’s sake

For God’s sake


Lock Haven

After the test run to scan for Prowl Cars, the jacked-up Bubba’s Chevy bowtie pickup with performance mufflers and more decibels than a city council meeting, rounds the corner at Henderson and Main. The custom Grapple with a ricer exhaust is in the lead before The Texas! And, they’re tied at Subway. The goal is to run the circuit to impress bad kitties and to let your buddies know you’re both louder and faster.

Two, wide-open lanes are ready for the race, and black chemical drums line the street to keep pedestrians off the track.

It’s a short run to the monument, but tripling the speed limit is still a rush. There aren’t many apartment dwellers or shoppers to worry about, even though some have been victims.

For example, my good friend, the late Ernie Kerstetter, took his hit from a 19-year-old at 6 p.m. in the evening and sustained full-body trauma and pain that he endured forever. Three other pedestrians were hit at that same Main Street intersection and in that same year, including Mary Cook and Lois McGill! A fourth victim sustained a broken leg and foot.

Montoursville eliminated its raceway by installing yield-to-pedestrians signs available free through PennDOT, maintaining two-way traffic and ripping out parking meters to create an inviting downtown environment.

The Express on Dec. 15, 2015, reported council vice president Stephen Stevenson’s suggestion that it’s time to hike the parking rates! The staff will study all the meter parking and present its report this spring as council is considering adding 26 more meters on both Main and Church streets at a $4,000 cost. In addition to some other bizarre “off-the-cuff” remarks, Stevenson thinks meter rates should stay in line with Williamsport and State College. Now, just stop and think about that goofy rationale. Some of your elected officials believe we have the economy, occupancy, population and demand you find in both of those two markets. I can only say it is one of the dumbest reasons to hike unnecessary parking meter rates that you could ever concoct. Now they want to employ an additional meter enforcement officer to anger even more downtown visitors!

Do you know the city takes in less revenue from its on-street meters than it spends to maintain and operate them? Yet they want to add more! The more they add, the more we all lose.

Anyway, now that we boot cars and charge $70 to have the boot removed, it is another unfriendly source of revenue following on the heels of a colossal 17-percent tax increase last year.

I recently went to a court hearing because someone who was fined never received notice and ended up with a $65 obligation. This injustice was settled many years ago by a wise Judge Carson V. Brown in Poorman vs. The City of Lock Haven when I refused to pay a $1 parking fine. The judge questioned the city as to how someone can be fined if they don’t receive the ticket. I prevailed and he gave the city three options: Tie the ticket to the windshield wiper, tie the ticket to the mirror or send the offender a certified mail notice before the then $1 fine is hiked to $27. The city didn’t like those options at all, but agreed to give notice. They no longer do and it’s my layman’s opinion they are in violation of a court order. So, if you don’t get a certified mail notice, maybe you should plead not guilty? They withdrew their summons five minutes before the hearing was to begin.

After my lawsuit and for the next decade, the city spent $4.75 in postage to collect $1. But, like many issues over the years, that court mandate faded by the wayside as new administrators tinker with the debacle. And you ask why I have little respect for the brown building.

Parking meters were designed to control parking. But the city doesn’t need to control parking anymore, now do they? We’ve chased so many businesses to the boulevard and made our downtown so unwelcome that you can find a parking space anytime, anywhere. It’s rare that I can’t find the very same exact space every day of the week, and that equates to “no need to control parking.”

There are much better, proven programs that can accommodate people who want to visit the central business district. I’m not even going to broach those options because they are too complicated for city council to absorb. Why, it would mean a change!

The Express on Jan. 7, 2016, reported that a petition was started to keep the state store downtown. Hey, council, do you know the four primary reasons downtown businesses leave for the suburbs? Again, I no longer have the patience to educate non-business owners on how to make money and create growth.

So in December, the city wants to double parking meter costs and in January wants to fight to keep its state store! I think my 10-year-old grandson could grasp this dichotomy.

For God’s sake, will you please make up your mind whether you want to draw people back or push them out, because we’ve had to watch the city “shoot itself in the head” at taxpayers’ expense for too many decades. And we do know those water, sewer, parking costs, permit fees, reneged levee bond tax reductions and boot removal fines are all sneaky little disguised tax increases. This city trips over business tax revenue dollars to pick up quarters! It’s pathetic.

As a former member of the board of directors of the Pennsylvania Retailers Association, owner of 17 retail mall stores and downtown real estate in eight different communities, I’ve come to understand how smart people take marbles away from unsophisticated city officials. I just don’t have the energy to sell these concepts.

So, anticipating they will once again “do nothing,” I served the city with a demand for a copy of its liability insurance policy. If they don’t act to avoid pedestrian personal injuries by Feb. 1, I’ll reluctantly notify Pennprime Insurance Trust of the obvious peril, and then council will either do the responsible, inexpensive thing or they can pay higher premiums. And if we have a NASCAR accident, it will be on record that notice was issued and the claim could be denied under general liability coverage exclusions within their policy.