The Bath Borough Council met on Monday, February 6 with a regular agenda and a lengthy public comments section due to many residents in attendance regarding the recent shooting that took place in the borough.
At approximately 2:04 a.m. on Friday, February 3, Troopers from the Pennsylvania State Police (PSP) were dispatched to a parking lot in the 100 block of East Main Street for reports of a shooting and arrived in under three minutes. Once on scene, Troopers observed multiple shell casings in the parking lot and damage to a 2002 Chevrolet Avalanche and a 2013 Chevrolet Malibu, but no injuries were reported.
Although the investigation is ongoing, some residents now fear for their safety and voiced their unease during public comment at the monthly council meeting.
Douglas Wolf informed the council that multiple gunshots pierced through his home, leaving three-inch holes in the wall and two rounds in a trash can. However, what was most concerning was the gunshots were mere inches away from the bunkbeds where his two young daughters were asleep.
Resident and local business owner Jennifer George shared she was awoken by the gunfire and was terrified. George also expressed she is now afraid for the safety of her son and the other children that live in the area.
George and several residents beseeched the council to reconsider bringing back the Bath Police Department, which was disbanded in 1995 after 44 years of service to the borough. In its place, the borough hired the Colonial Regional Police Department from 1995 through 2018, before opting for police services through PSP on July 1, 2018.
Additionally, when the borough decided to rely on PSP for police services in 2018, Borough Manager Bradford Flynn suggested doing an evaluation regarding police services around the five-year mark, which would be this year.
Manager Flynn commented that council will be contacting the Police Executive Research Forum out of D.C. and the Centers for Public Safety Management regarding pricing to conduct a study in Bath relative to police services. The study will look into the benefits of different police services with consideration of costs, manpower, time, and resources to see if the current level of service is adequate or if a different police service would be better suited for the borough.
Manager Flynn added that with PSP, the borough is getting state police forensics, manpower, and access to resources.
“I feel we are in good hands [with the state police] because they are the most highly trained law enforcement agency in our area,” said Flynn.
Although The Fox has denied allegations that the recent incident began in their establishment, the borough passed a motion to allow the Borough Solicitor to look into the Nuisance Bar Program. If found to have a pattern of violations or conduct that threatens the health and safety of the local community, the Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board could refuse to renew The Fox’s liquor license under its statutory obligation to protect the safety, peace, health, and welfare of the commonwealth.
“Nothing takes precedence more than safety,” said Vice President Frank Hesch.
On Friday, February 10 at 6 p.m., President Michele Ehrgott released a special statement to Bath Borough residents on the borough’s Facebook page explaining current steps the borough is taking:
“First, we’re evaluating options to increase surveillance in and around the area where the incident took place; second, we’re evaluating our local ordinances to strengthen against incidents like this from happening again; and third, we’re evaluating public safety in general. There will be more information on this three-prong approach in the coming months.”
PSP Troopers are requesting that anyone who may have information in regard to the shooting contact the Pennsylvania State Police Troop M Bethlehem Criminal Investigation Unit at 610-861-2026.
In other news, council unanimously adopted ordinance number 2023-726 to remove handicapped parking spaces at 104 Washington St. and 249 Green St. Council also unanimously adopted ordinance number 2023-727, a zoning ordinance amendment providing definitions for medical marijuana dispensaries, growers/processors, and delivery vehicle facilities to permit each use as special exception in the manufacturing/commercial zoning district, which is merely a proactive measure.
Next, council heard a conceptual proposal from Enco United Soccer Club Field Coordinator Glen Butz and President Fernando Cabrera to discuss a potential long-term lease agreement with the borough for soccer programs in the spring and fall at Ciff Cowling Field.
During the meeting, council also interviewed Luis Figueroa for the Emergency Management Coordinator position in the borough, which he also performs for East Allen Township. No decision has been made yet, but council will decide at a later meeting.
Last, council unanimously approved a Bath View Garden Apartments letter of credit reduction.
The next upcoming Bath Borough Council meeting will be held Monday, March 6 at 6 p.m. in the borough’s office building, located at 121 S. Walnut St.