The Northampton Borough Council met Thursday, June 15 to honor junior council member Ryleigh Tillotson, welcome a full-time police officer and discuss the permits of the adult softball league at Canal Park.
During his report, Mayor Anthony Pristash presented a certificate of appreciation to two-year Junior Council Representative Ryleigh Tillotson, a graduate of Northampton Area High School Class of 2023, which thanked Tillotson for her time and contributions while serving as a junior council member and proclaimed Friday, June 16 as Ryleigh Tillotson Day in the Borough of Northampton.
Deputy Executive Director Stephanie Drake of the Pa. State Association of Boroughs also presented Tillotson with a distinguished junior council person award on behalf of the Board of Directors.
Drake expressed: “Involvement in local government from every generation is critical. The junior council person program is a way to make that happen in the boroughs throughout Pa. and the Pa. State Association of Boroughs is committed to its success. I’d like to recognize and thank Northampton Borough officials for their leadership and mentoring of these individuals. Through these efforts, students gain critical skills in efficacy, public engagement, decision making, and team building. What’s most important is that this program allows the student to have a voice in their communities.”
Tillotson thanked council members for the experience she received as a junior council member and for the effort they put into making Northampton a better place before expressing that the opportunity to be a junior council member has given her a step ahead and allowed her to appreciate her community more and appreciate growing up in Northampton.
“I’ll be going to Georgia Tech in the fall and cheerleading there, and I hope to bring a small piece of our community down there and hopefully bring our positive spirit wherever I go,” Tillotson shared.
Council congratulated Tillotson and wished her luck in her future endeavors.
In other news, council unanimously approved the hire of Evan Medlar as a full-time police officer effective July 3. The Northampton Borough Police Department now has 17 full-time police officers.
Next, the Northampton Area School District guidance office provided the names of two students hoping to further their education and create a career in criminal justice. Police Chief Bryan Kadingo presented scholarships to Courtney Dorsey and Kira Sanders, funded by the police fishing contest for their endeavors into criminal justice.
For the month of May, the Northampton Borough Police Department reported that there were 650 dispatches with 50 traffic citations, nine non-traffic citations for disorderly conduct, harassment, public drunkenness, and scattering rubbish, 112 parking tickets issued, and five arrests for possession of a controlled substance and simple assault.
Council members Ronald Glassic and Judy Haldeman pointed out that 20 of the 38 code enforcement concerns on the Code Enforcement Concern Status Report were for grass and weed overgrowth.
Glassic and Haldeman expressed that homeowners and businesses need to know that weeds that extend to the sidewalk and curb are the responsibility of property and business owners, and therefore, need to be maintained along with the rest of their property.
Last, Councilman Anthony Lopsonzski brought up the situation on Canal Street at Canal Park regarding the use of the baseball field by the adult softball league, whose fly balls have damaged several homes and vehicles along the street.
Lopsonzski noted that it “seems casual to say we’ll just eliminate [their] permit.”
“The situation exists that the homes on Canal Street were built in the middle of center field. You have to look at what you’re getting before you get it. If you don’t like it, then don’t go there,” Lopsonzski stated in reference to the homeowners’ understanding of their property in proximity to the park.
Lopsonzski added that the individuals affected by the fly balls are a small number in comparison to the number of individuals, family members and businesses that would be affected by eliminating the permits of the adult softball league.
“It’s not the person’s fault that they bought their home there, but they should know of the risk. It has to be acknowledged on both sides,” Lopsonzski added.
To rectify the matter, Lopsonzski suggested the borough look into getting three or four 70-foot telephone poles to put along Canal Street with golf nets, which would catch any fly balls and prevent property damage along the street.
Glassic expressed that he believes the borough has a responsibility to protect property owners, but would like to see pricing on the poles and netting before considering.
Councilman Kenneth Hall chimed that last meeting’s discussion on pulling permits was only if the permit holders were not abiding by the rules, and felt that the poles and netting would be an eyesore.
Haldeman stated that she would like to try to monitor what the adult softball league is doing and talk with the league about not using machines and equipment that is not permitted.
However, Borough Manager LeRoy E. Brobst stated that the permit does not regulate the league’s use of equipment, therefore, the agreement cannot be altered. Instead, Brobst suggested sitting down with the permit holders/league to see if a solution can be reached before other avenues are explored.
Upcoming Northampton Borough Council meetings will be held Thursday, July 6 and Thursday, July 20 at 7 p.m. in the borough’s municipal offices, located at 1401 Laubach Ave.