During the Northampton Borough Council meeting on Thursday, August 17, Council President Judith Kutzler thanked the borough’s code enforcement, zoning and public works teams. This comes after she said the borough employees were “viciously attacked” on social media.
“Our code department addressed many violations brought to their attention,” she said. July saw 79 property maintenance violations, including 51 weed complaints. Other complaints involved illegal vehicles, debris on porches and overgrown hedges. In addition, the code enforcement team has brought rental ordinance registration up to 99% this year.
“All they want, and [all] this council wants, is our town to be clean,” she continued. “It seems like in the community, code [enforcement], like police, are either a hero or a fill-in-the-blank…we are Northampton, and we are proud and will work hard to keep our town clean.”
Mayor Tony Pristash said Kutzler’s remarks were “well said.”
“We all have a social contract,” he continued. “And that contract is to take care of yourself and take care of your neighbors.”
In other news, council discussed a proposed music festival in Municipal Park. The Equinox Music Festival appeared on the council’s agenda in July and members of council met with one of the organizers in early August; however, questions remain regarding attendance and security.
The event will feature local bands, food trucks and craft vendors. However, organizers have not yet provided a list of vendors. Borough Manager LeRoy Brobst said this may be because not all vendors are registered yet; however, he said he would work with the organizers leading up to the event to get a list and ensure the event follows code and safety.
Mayor Tony Pristash said he listened to the band’s music, calling it “interesting,” before asking whether the event will have security, be it through the borough police department or a private security company.
“I just don’t want to open ourselves up for a liability,” cautioned Councilman Ronald Glassic. “There have been other groups performing there.”
Mayor Pristash clarified that he was more worried about the term “festival” and this being a first-time event, not so much the music.
“All of the events we have had, you’ve had a history,” he said, stating that social media marketing could mean hundreds of people are present. “Whether 20 or 20,000 people show up, we have a plan.”
Councilwoman Judy Haldemann expressed similar worries, citing parking.
Councilman Anthony Lopsonzski, Sr. said he would also like to see security present at the event but not dissuade groups from using the park.
“I would like to see more events in the park than what we have…we have a beautiful park there,” he said. “The bandshell has a beautiful way that it projects music.”
Because security requirements were not in the application that event organizers submitted, Solicitor Brian Panella said the borough could not mandate security for this festival. “We can’t move the goalpost further back.”
Council voted to approve the event, scheduled for September 23. Councilwomen Kutzler and Bonnie Almond voted no. Councilman Kenneth Hall abstained because he was absent from the previous meeting when the event was discussed.
“I will do the best I can to cover all the bases,” Brobst promised council.
The next Northampton Borough Council meeting will be Thursday, September 7 at 7 p.m.