Borough Council Candidates Debate

For those people who didn’t brave the elements to attend the borough council candidates debate on Wednesday night, here is a nice overview from the Sentinel.  There are 6 candidates for borough council and 4 of them will be elected on November 8th.

Many topics were covered but a few of note were discussed that directly affect the West Side.  One topic of discussion was the options in redeveloping the Carlisle Tire & Wheel plant.

Although there is a lot of concern with the downtown, some other areas of town – such as the northwest area, near the now-defunct Carlisle Tire and Wheel – are forgotten. The candidates were asked what opportunities they see for areas like that.

Grell said that he sees “the same thing, only bigger.” He said council is exploring “any and all” options, not limiting itself to any one idea, and is also working with the commonwealth and Cumberland County to try to find something to do with the building.

Pagano suggested turning some of the unused areas in town into community gardens to give residents an opportunity to grow their own food.

Madden said that as far as he knew, “people who know what they’re doing are looking at these sites,” and the best thing council could do would be to work with them. He pointed out that the area is zoned industrial, but it’s surrounded by residential zoning and that needs to be taken into consideration.

“You have to be sensitive, have an open mind in looking at plans. If need be, maybe re-working the overlay zones,” he said.

Fulham-Winston said the now-empty building was a “perfect opportunity for a public-private partnership,” one that would create jobs.

She stressed being inventive, involving everyone and making the area a “high priority.”

Guido said the property was “great” and she was excited to see what might go in there. She echoed Grell in saying that nothing should be limited or off the table and suggested that a grocery store could serve that end of the borough very well, given how far those residents are from other grocery stores.

“I also think it would be perfect for the YMCA, it’s exactly the kind of place they’re looking for,” she said, but added that she didn’t think the Y was looking at the building.

Flower, who went last, joked that “all the good ideas have been taken,” and suggested working with concerned community partners from that area of town, including Hope Station and ABC.

One of the other topics that could directly affect the West Side was the concept of the Rental Ordinance currently being voted on in council.

The fourth question dealt with the proposed mandatory addendum to all leases in the borough, which was proposed by the Rental Housing Task Force and which council voted down 4 to 3 last month. The candidates were asked whether they agreed with it and what they thought a good ordinance would involve.

Pagano pointed out that the idea of a rental responsibility agreement originated in her SoSo neighborhood because of concerns over properties in bad or unsafe conditions. She suggested making the renters and landlords accountable for keeping their properties in good condition.

Madden pointed out that a landlord who wasn’t enforcing the terms of his lease would be unlikely to enforce the terms of an addendum, either. He said any ordinance should look at educating tenants and landlords on rights and responsibilities.

Fulham-Winston said she had hoped council would vote in favor of the mandatory addendum, rather than the voluntary one it did vote in favor of, but she agreed with Madden that a landlord who doesn’t care about his buildings won’t care about the addendum.

She said that voluntary inspection, joint codes departments and police efforts to educate and inspect would make people safer and be “a wonderful first step.”

Guido also agreed with Madden that education was the key and suggested that any ordinance have a “trial period” to make sure there was a way and a time to work out any bugs in the system.

She also said that any ordinance would need to provide for safety without “bogging us down in lawsuits and litigation. Unfortunately, you can’t legislate manners, diplomacy or etiquette. You can’t pass legislation that will make a bad tenant a good one or a bad landlord a good one.”

Flower advocated working together and said she thought the addendum was a good idea and should have been passed. Although there would have been challenges to it, it would have been a good resource.

Grell reminded the audience he had voted in favor of the addendum.

The idea itself came from landlords and he had hoped it would work well and that people would want to do it. He advocated taking time and effort to be careful and also said that “council has been working on these issues for a long time.”

Please read the entire article to get the full spectrum of topics and the candidates responses.  Don’t forget to vote on November 8th!