Whatever game was being played on the gym floor upstairs continued unabated, rattling the ceiling as Marty Flynn spoke into the microphone.
This brings back so many memories, Flynn said, gesturing toward the stage behind him in All Saints Auditorium, recalling the days when he performed on those boards in school plays.
The 37-year-old Democrat, who is running unopposed for state House District 113 seat, came to All Saints Auditorium on Thursday, Oct. 19 not as a politician per se, but as a West Sider, to listen – and speak – as the West Scranton Hyde Park Neighborhood Watch gathered for one of its regular meetings, and to celebrate two years of community activism.
I'm glad to see everybody staying put, and taking a stake in the neighborhood, said Flynn. And not going somewhere else just because times have been getting tough.
Just how tough the times are getting was underscored by the issues members pitched at the Scranton Police officer assigned to Thursday's meeting.
Patrolman Steve Carroll, himself a West Sider, listened intently: Unkempt standing flea markets on the lawns of several properties, people setting up elsewhere to sell goods from the backs of trucks, an ongoing feud in one block that was growing increasingly disorderly, tractor-trailers getting stuck under the North Main Avenue railroad bridge, and most of all, drugs.
The flea markets were or would be dealt with, Carroll said. He took notes on the back-of-the-truck sales. Watch member Mike Taluto, who works in public relations for the state Department of Transportation, said he would check with PennDOT about signage and other issues related to the underpass issue and big rigs getting lost in residential neighborhoods on the way to and from industrial facilities in Taylor.
They could get cited for going under the bridge, for failing to obey the signage, Carroll explained. But not just for getting lost, no.
But when all those issues were done, the conversation returned to drugs, suspected drug-houses and how to deal with landlords who rent to dealers.
Carroll and watch President Karin Foster explained how city ordinances allow for a six-month condemnation in the wake of drug sales – longer if code violations are discovered, which is frequently the case.
Can't we just take their property away, one resident asked regarding landlords.
Carroll counseled patience, reminding the two dozen or so attendees what acting police Chief Carl Graziano has said recently: drug arrests are up and investigations are under way all over the city, and for obvious reasons not in ways most residents will ever see until arrests are made, as in a recent large-scale West Scranton bust.
It takes time, Carroll said.
The discussion moved on. Another resident complained about burned-out streetlights around North Decker Court. Foster offered to help the woman navigate the nepalights.com Website, through which they usually come out to fix the problem within 48 hours.
Scranton School Board member Nathan Barrett came to discuss concerns about traffic backups outside Isaac Trip Elementary School at dismissal time, when 748 students leave school.
A cul-de-sac access road, named for the late Scranton firefighter James Robeson, has been blocked off after a child nearly got hit by a van one day. Until a more permanent solution can be found, blocking the roadway helps control flow at the year-old school and keeps everyone safe, Barrett said.
And, he added, on most days the bulk of traffic is still gone in three minutes, and the parking lot stands empty in six.
I think three minutes is worth the safety of our students, Barrett said.
Foster spoke about achieving state non-profit status (they're still working on federal.
Formalities concluded, the group paused to say grace and eat cake, marking the two-year anniversary of their efforts to tackle such diverse quality-of-life issues as came up on this fall Thursday.
With your help, we've achieved much in West Side, Foster said. But we're not done yet.