Brookville to Crack Down on Blighted Housing, Overgrown Lawns

BROOKVILLE, Pa. (EYT) – The Brookville Borough Council is making preparations to take the borough’s blighted housing and overgrown lawns more seriously.

The council approved, at the proposal of Council President, Phil Hynes, an ad hoc Residential Maintenance Committee to address the Code Enforcement initiative in order to investigate funding for addressing blighted properties, deal with complaints, and make recommendations to the council. Hynes appointed Rick Baughman as Committee Chair with Randy Bartley and Karen Allgeier as members of the committee.

Code Enforcement Officer, Don Jonischek, says his area of focus right now is East Main Street where he plans to remove unregistered vehicles and large debris.

Both Council Members Dave Ferringer and Rick Baughman spoke in support of Jonischek’s efforts. Baughman emphasized the importance of the borough’s measures to deal with these kinds of violations. “It’s getting to be problem,” he said. “The blighted properties and grass– we dont want any one person to think we are singling them out, but there are ordinances for everything. If (Jonischek) wants to start on East Main Street, that doesn’t mean he isn’t then coming for West.” He added that he hopes to be able to eventually let residents know which areas are being targeted so that they have an opportunity to address violations. “There’s not a lot of teeth to it this year,” he said, “but there should be.”

Donna Cooper, the Director of the Jefferson County Solid Waste Authority, made a presentation to the council regarding the changes to the drop-off recycling program for the Rose Township site. The county was able to purchase a new truck with new containers, which, according to Cooper, was necessary considering recent problems with the cost of the former recycling program. With these updates, the Solid Waste Authority can collect recyclables themselves, in partnership with the Indiana County Solid Waste Authority.

Cooper then urged the council to consider making a donation to help support the cost of the program. According to Cooper, the Rose Township site is the most heavily used site in the county and last year, it collected approximately 113 tons of waste. The total cost to manage all sites in the county is $64,000. The Brookville Borough had made donations of $1,000 per year to the Solid Waste Authority from 2012 to 2015, but discontinued due to financial constraints.

Both Bartley and Mayor Dick Beck spoke in support of restoring the donation to the program, saying that they use the site to recycle, along with many other residents. Hynes indicated that the donation would be considered during the next budget meeting. “It was deleted it from the budget because we were really strapped at the time,” he said. “But things have turned around with our finances.”

Borough Manager, Dana Schreckengost, announced that the borough has received an in kind matching grant from North Central PA Regional Planning and Development Commission in the amount of $14,582.50 to begin improvements on the Walter Dick Park. Renovations projects include a proposed healing and serenity garden, an ADA accessible ramp to the rope bridge and new landscaping throughout the park to help buffer the noise from Interstate 80. Schreckengost explained that the matching funds came from donations and the renovations will not cost the borough anything.

Police Chief Vince Markel reported that September was a particularly busy month for the Borough Police. There were a total of 215 calls for service, 78 citations, 66 warnings, 184 parking violations, 2 felonies 14 misdemeanors, 6 drug-related arrests and 13 summary offenses. Markel also reported a threat at the school as well as an incident where a local business person threatened to shoot one of the police officers while the Borough Police were having dinner together.

Markel said that he is supervising a series of active shooter drills, which started with a drill at the Laurel Eye Clinic. Bartley commented on the drill, saying it was “conducted very professionally, and was a very sober reminder of threats that we face every single day.”

The council has a new Junior Council Member, Brookville Area School District senior, Brynn Afton.

Brynn Afton being sworn in by Mayor Beck.

Afton is the Class President, a member of the cross country team, the swim team, the track team, and has been in many school musicals. She also recently represented the district during a trip to Capitol Hill for the school’s Students in Government program where she participated in presenting the group’s bill to the legislature.

“I would like to thank the board for this opportunity,” Afton said, addressing the council. “I’m very happy to be here.”

Brookville Area High School junior, Donavan Hoffman was selected as the Junior Council Member Alternate.

Brynn Afton, Mayor Beck, and Donavan Hoffman.

Mayor Beck officially gave the Declaration of Halloween, which will again be on Halloween with the parade starting at 5:30 pm and then trick or treat to follow until 8:00 pm.

Allgeier announced that the annual Pumpkin Roll is scheduled for Sunday, November 4th at 1:00 at top of Pickering Hill.

Hynes then gave a reminder for an upcoming meeting with the Towns and Trails Regional Coalition on October 18th from 7:00-8:30 pm at the new Chateau d’Argy on Main Street. The meeting is part of a regional initiative to promote Brookville and other surrounding towns as “trail towns” and feature outdoor activities. He encouraged business owners, chamber officials, residents and the general public to attend.


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