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Open debate Council carefully considers alcohol use in public places Also discussed at Borough Council recCenter membership climbs to 6,500 State funding for library down $150,000 since 2009 Who will be Lititz’s next police sergeant?
GARY P. KLINGER Record Express Correspondent
, Staff Writer
Local resident Wayne Anthony is concerned about his hometown.
Specifically, he is concerned about the consumption of alcohol at public events. He expressed his concerns during Tuesday evening’s session of Lititz Borough Council.
"I moved out of New Jersey 35 years ago," said Anthony. "It was a small town like Lititz and was a really nice town that went down the toilet after a lot of things happened. One thing that contributed to that was the consumption of alcohol."
According to his count, Anthony indicates there are at least eleven establishments that sell alcohol within walking distance.
"I’ll have a drink. I’ll drink a beer," said Anthony. "But I think we are getting over the top from how we got started."
It’s certainly not the same closed community founded centuries ago by a small Moravian Congregation.
He recalled an incident at the recent car show sponsored by the Lititz Lions Club, where he had an encounter with several men who were clearly intoxicated.
"Why can’t I, as a person who has been in the community this long, have been a Boy Scout leader, why can’t I have an open beverage night," he asked rhetorically.
During the Rock Lititz bike race in April, a special event liquor license was secured that allowed for a beer garden at the intersection of Main and Cedar streets. The open container law was lifted in the first block of East Main Street for that event. There were no reported alcohol-related problems at the bike race, but it has created some confusion.
Venture Lititz director Kelly Withum said that it has given some people the false impression that every time Main Street is closed, the open container law for alcohol is suspended. That, she said, is not the case. Special event liquor licenses are rare and will be seldom used in the borough. The next time it will be in effect in Lititz is during the Oct. 19 zombie run fundraiser, known as Dawn of the Lititz Dead.
Council members shared Anthony’s concern, but also explained how carefully they consider the matter.
"Council deliberated for over 40 minutes on the open beverage request for that night," remarked council member Doug Bomberger of the upcoming zombie race. "That is why we so carefully identified where the (beer) gardens would be, where they could drink. We are very sensitive to that and we are going to be watching this event very closely to see how it goes."
Bomberger reminded Anthony that all community events must be cleared by Borough Council and each are reviewed on a case-by-case basis. In addition, each event is cleared through the Lititz Police Department.
Council has stressed the importance of common sense, shared responsibility of business owners to help keep things in line, and maintaining Lititz’s friendly atmosphere by not over-policing patrons who may step slightly outside of an approved area.
For his part, Anthony said that while he does not want to be a "kill joy," he does disagree with allowing open beverages for any special events.
In other council news, Dick Nuffort and Lititz recCenter executive director Karen Mailen addressed council to thank them for their ongoing support. And Mailen had some impressive figures to share with members.
"Currently, the recCenter has 6,500 members, which is a 14 percent increase since last year," said Mailen. "And last year we had a 13 percent increase over the year before."
Last Saturday’s open house yielded an additional 73 new members, and Mailen cited the effectiveness of the recCenter’s programs – 2,500 swimming lessons, 450 summer campers at 70 different summer camps, and over 200 in full-day child care. One hundred and fifty children were in instructional basketball, and more than 100 were enrolled in the fundamental tennis program.
The recCenter remains the largest single provider of before- and after-school care for Warwick School District students, although Mailen pointed out that of all the impressive data, this may be the only area where the center has seen a reduction.
"I’ve always been encouraged by what we give away for free," said Nuffort, a recCenter board member. "We turn nobody away, which amounts to about $50,000 that we give away in membership fees, programs and activities."
With such success, it was certainly no surprise that Mailen would tell council that the recCenter is once again out of room.
"We are looking for options to expand," she said. "This is going to be a challenge since we are landlocked, but we are looking at our options."
In closing, Mailen challenged council to return its funding of the recCenter back to that of 2012. She committed that the center would continue to be fiscally responsible, would invest in the capital facility and be "responsive, collaborative and vibrant."
Lititz Public Library director Susan Tennant, along with the president of the library’s board of trustees, Dudley Feltham, were also on hand to thank council for its support.
As with all public libraries, funding continues to be a significant challenge. Tennant explained that it has forced staff to work harder to cut costs, be more efficient while at the same time maintaining the most needed, most effective programs.
The results of those efforts are paying off. Tennant explained that Lititz maintains one of the lower cost per borrowed item among local libraries at an in impressive $1.13 per item. Not only that, in recent evaluations, Lititz earned the best record of all 14 libraries in the county.
"On the whole it was a great year," Tennant told council. "But funding is a sobering reality."
According to Tennant, county funding of the library will be slashed another $8,000 for the coming year. And for 2014 the library will receive $111,000 in state funding, as compared to $262,000 in state funds in 2009.
"That means we are down over $150,000 in state allocation over that short amount of time," she said.
And while overall donations are up 18 percent over last year, Tennant indicated the average family donation is only about $65.
"It’s the nature of the public library that just about everything is free," added Feltham. "We are always glad to see how you are spending the tax money. And we understand that with so many claims on the budget, this is just one. Still, ours is the envy of many libraries, yet we are also under budgetary constraints."
Council expressed its appreciation for both organizations and the roles they play in the culture of the Lititz community.
"We are extremely pleased by your success," said council president Karen Weibel. "I hope the residents recognize this and how fortunate we are to have a top notch recCenter, library, the Lititz Springs Park… We are very fortunate."
The recCenter and library are among the local organizations that receive annual contributions from the borough. While already approved as part of its fiscal 2013 budget, council only voted to release several contributions at Tuesday evening’s meeting. Those contributions include $46,845 for the Lititz Public Library, $44,342 for the Lititz Fire Company, $10,000 for Lititz Springs Park and $1,000 for the Warwick Community Ambulance Association. Lititz also shares in the fuel costs for the ambulance association, along with other municipalities served by that organization.
And finally, council voted to allow the Lititz Police Department and Civil Service Commission to begin the sergeant examination process. According to Chief William Seace, everyone in the department except for the last officer hired would be qualified for sergeant. Council’s action would begin a process and allow plenty of time for those officers interested in the position to acquire the needed study material and prep time for the examination and interview process.
More BOROUGH COUNCIL, page A14