By Chadwick Dolgos
A recent petition circulated by Broadway Avenue merchants in Stowe Township has received more than a dozen signatures calling for an increased police presence in the business district.
The petition began circulating last month after a noted uptick in drug-related crimes in the area. While the business owners say they are more concerned with violent crimes, they fear the situation is going to get worse the longer it goes without special attention.
The board of commissioners acknowledged an increased crime rate in the township’s business area during the board’s March 8 meeting and say they have been considering options to minimize.
Frank Jones, owner of Kennedy Notary Public Services, explained that, while current crime is negatively impacting business on Broadway, past crimes made known to the public continue to haunt the avenue.
“Our business has certainly seen the effects of various local crimes being committed that then become public knowledge, and then becomes a deterrent to individuals to come and patronize our business,” he said.
Joining Jones in signing the petition were the owners of Anytime Market, Broadway Couture, Marathon Pawn, and Ace’s Tavern, among others.
Another issue targeted by the owners relates to large groups of people congregating along Broadway who may be a deterrence to patrons.
“[Customers] have even said that they really don’t feel safe coming to our business with all of the people and noise outside,” said Jones.
Recently, Stowe’s board of commissioners passed ordinances that would prohibit soliciting and panhandling.
“There’s going to be some major changes on Broadway,” Parrilla said, about the enforcement of these new rules.
Commissioners have promised to again begin monitoring Broadway during peak hours using a bike patrol officer. Prior to COVID-19 restrictions being put in place, an officer on foot had been assigned to frequent the area.
“There will be some other things going on on Broadway with police,” said Parrilla.
“We will try to cover Broadway from 9 a.m. to 9 at night.”
The officer monitoring the street will have access to a patrol vehicle equipped with a bike mount in case the officer is called on for assistance in a situation outside of the business area.
“I am not sure that the police presence is an absolute solution, but it may deter some individuals from loitering along Broadway, and may give our customers a sense of comfort knowing there are police nearby in case they are needed,” said Jones.
The Stowe Township Police Department has faced difficulties bringing new talent to the force. This prompted the board to increase the starting wage from $15 to $18 an hour for part-time officers Jan. 12.
Since the increase, the township has successfully hired four new part-time officers, with the addition of Michael Palihunik’s employment being passed by the board during their March 9 meeting.