June 21, 2008

Park Road Will Be Open for Gordon Music Fest

By John E. Usalis, The News-Item, Shamokin, Pa.

Jun. 21--GORDON -- Back in March, it seemed that the matter of access to Gordon Community Park was settled. The public learned at Tuesday's meeting of Gordon Borough Council that the issue is still "in litigation."

However, even though the road leading to the park is currently blocked by a dump truck, it will be open in time for the annual Gordon Music and Arts Festival, which is scheduled for Saturday, June 21. The free event includes live music from all types of genre bands and other activities that draws thousands to the park.

The road is currently being blocked by Gordon Councilman Randy E. Huber, who owns a section of the park road. The former mayor of Gordon, Huber purchased in 1998 land in that section of the borough that includes a portion of the road. In order to gain access to the park, council passed a resolution in March to file with the Schuylkill County Court of Common Pleas for a permanent easement to preserve vehicular access to the park. The borough's action was appealed, leading to the road blockage again.

According to borough solicitor Mark Semanchik, an agreement has been reached between Huber and the borough to open the road from the evening of Thursday, June 19, to Sunday, June 22, to allow set up of the bandstand and access to vehicles to bring in band equipment and other items necessary to carry on the festival.

"Council met in executive session at 6:30 to discuss the issue," said Semanchik. "It is my understanding that the property owner has agreed that as long as some concerns are resolved, permission will be granted to allow that roadway to be used for the event."

The music festival organizer, Henry "Hank" Ahrensfield, was pleased with the ability to gain limited access to the park along the road, especially since the bands have been booked and canceling the event would cost the festival committee a great deal of money. The music festival is not designed to be a money-maker. It was created to provide a daylong community music event, paid for through sponsorships, grants, chances and food items sold the day of the event. Any money left over after paying expense is used in the park for equipment or maintenance.

"The main reason we need the road is for our supplies and the band members," said Ahrensfield.

Semanchik said there will be some improvements made to the road by the borough. Paid security personnel will control access to the road, strictly monitoring who will use the road on the festival day. Passwords will be set up to make sure no unauthorized persons will be allowed into the park on the road. The general public will be able to enter the park on the footbridge that traverses the Little Mahanoy Creek.

The road will also be open to anyone who needs handicapped access.

When asked about details on the matter, Semanchik said that it could not be discussed at this time because "It is in litigation."

In other business, council President Lynn Korn said the borough will not have a community cleanup. She advised that any resident interested in disposing of large items should directly call the borough's trash hauler, Wolfgang Hauling, to arrange a time for pickup and determine costs.

Korn has received complaints about a property owner that is allegedly allowing trash to be dumped on his property. She asked Semanchik what could be done to stop the dumping on private property.

"If the property owner is allowing others to dump on his property, that may meet the definition of a landfill," said Semanchik. "The definition of a landfill under DEP regulations could be as small as a three-foot square piece of ground. Maybe it's worth a phone call to DEP and have someone come down and inspect it, and if they find anything that's being dumped in violation of clean fill, the property owner may be facing some hefty fines and an order to have that removed. If that's the case, the permission may stop real quick."

Mayor Nick Troutman asked council about what could be done about flooding at the lower level of the borough during very heavy rains. He has been questioned about finding ways to alleviate the situation. According to Korn and borough manager Paul Snyder, plans are in the works to have the Little Mahanoy Creek dredged in the near future. Funds are being provided through a grant secured by state Sen. James J. Rhoades, R-29.

Troutman also informed council that the Ashland Area Chamber of Commerce is offering Gordon Borough its Christmas decorations. The chamber plans to purchase new decorations this year and decided to donate them to Gordon, which does not have decorations. Korn was pleased with the gesture, but one matter that must be resolved is where the decoration could be stored. Other questions were also raised about costs, making connections and others. Troutman and council will work with chamber Vice President George Demko about the offer.

The next meeting of Gordon council will be held at 7 p.m. Monday, July 7.


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