Montrose, Forest lake explore police agreement

BY STACI WILSON

Montrose Borough Police may soon be on patrol in nearby Forest Lake Twp.

Council discussed, at the Monday, Feb. 4 meeting, a proposal presented by Forest Lake Supervisor Frank Pinkowski at a borough meeting held late last year.

The Silver Lake Twp. Police Department had been contracted to patrol Forest Lake but Silver Lake supervisors chose not to renew the coverage agreement that expired Dec. 31, 2012.

Montrose Councilman Craig Reimel said he, along with Councilman Randy Schuster had met with Pinkowski to review what the township was looking for in police coverage. Schuster was absent from Monday night’s meeting.

Reimel said the township’s supervisors would also be discussing the matter at their meeting, also held Monday evening.

“If it goes forward, we are looking at an April 1 start,” Reimel said.

He outlined a contract plan that would provide 22 hours per week of police coverage in Forest Lake; along with five hours per week for investigation services which would include court time, Reimel said.

If extra police coverage was requested for special events in Forest Lake, such as the firemen’s field days, those hours would be paid separate to the contract but at the same rate, he added.

According to Reimel, Pinkowski said that residents now look forward to have police patrol the township.

“They’re interested in having a police presence on a random basis,” Reimel said.

Reimel and Montrose Police Chief Dale Smith fielded questions from council about the proposal.

Council members asked about police response to calls in the township when an officer was not on duty there.

“Are you going to leave our town high and dry?” asked Councilman Tony Pickett.

Council was assured that the state police would respond to calls in Forest Lake when Montrose police were not on duty there, same as the way calls are handled in New Milford Borough.

Councilman Sean Granahan said, “So it’s a deterrent – they just want someone around.”

Granahan also asked of the borough would incur any extra liability if they entered into the contract. Solicitor Marion O’Malley said she would check into that for council.

Council President Tom LaMont said, “I’m not interested in being the county’s police force. It’s time for the district attorney to step up and do a regional (police force).”

O’Malley, who also serves as the assistant district attorney in the county, said there is a countywide drug and DUI task force that is managed by the district attorney’s office.

LaMont said, “I don’t want to grow our police force to the point where we relay on other townships to support it.”

But he said, council would continue discussing the matter at the Feb. 17 borough meeting.

Parking issues in the borough were also discussed by council.

School bus drivers and the snowplow have been having trouble making a turn off Cedar and onto Cliff St., because of cars parked partially on the roadway. A no parking sign that had been knocked down will be replaced; and a temporary, trial-period ‘no parking’ zone will be put into place on one side of the road running from Cedar to Laurel streets.

Police assured council that vehicles parked too close to the stop sign had been ticketed and some had even been towed.

With the 30-day trial of a stop sign replacing a yield sign on Gary Lane, Alice Walsh, a resident of the neighborhood, reported that more cars were now stopping in the area. She reported residents liked having the stop signs. Council will consider adopting an ordinance that would make the stop sign permanent on the borough street.

In other business, the borough adopted its Hazard Mitigation Plan.

The roster of special fire police was also accepted by council.

On behalf of the Montrose Restoration Committee and the Montrose Area Chamber of Commerce, Judy Kelly asked if any council members would be willing to join a committee to help create a five- and ten-year plan for the borough.

Kelly said the effort would start out with a “vision stage,” with people providing input about what they want the community to look like in five to 10 years.

Granahan said the group’s final document could be submitted to the county planning office as the borough’s comprehensive plan. The borough has not had a comprehensive plan done since the 1970s.

Some repair work is needed at the site of the proposed borough community center. The borough is using its Act 13 money to open a community center in the building, formerly a fitness facility, at the corner of Mill and High streets.

A roof leak at the building has already been repaired and a list of small repairs needed is being compiled.

Granahan said council is still collecting information from the community about what they would like to see the building used for and he mentioned some groups had already expressed an interest in holding meetings at the site.

Sean Regan, a Montrose Area High School student, has volunteered to create a logo for the new community center.

Council voted to pay its portion of the Susquehanna County Tax Collection Committee Budget. Total cost to the borough is $1,366.

The VFW was granted permission to hold its annual Memorial Day Parade on May 27.

The five-year terms for zoning hearing board members were adjusted, amending the appointments made to the board in December, to provide for rotating terms.