FC Council Hears Grievances from Residents During Meeting

Ford City Eagles President Chris Trego said aggressive police patrol is running off patrons and hurting the organization’s ability to fund community projects.

Several residents aired their grievances at Monday night’s Ford City Borough Council meeting.

The first discussion dealt with transfer of Fort Run Park from Ford City to Manor Township. Council President Carol Fenyes had contacted Manor supervisors asking if they would consider taking over the Park as a donation. After several meetings, Borough council agreed to transfer the Park to Manor for customary one dollar.

Stacy Klukan began the questioning, making sure Manor could not later change it from a park to another use. Don Mains felt the property was more valuable to Ford City.

“That is an amazing piece of property there, close to the river, to give for one dollar. That’s a lot to give away. And, I understand that the maintenance is something that is a challenge to you, but that’s an amazing piece of property.”

Ray Charney and Jerry Miklos questioned if the property had conditions attached to it that required it to be a park.

“In other words, what your saying is that Ford City Borough couldn’t even do anything with it? They couldn’t develop something there.”

Solicitor Allysa Golferi said that because grant funds were received several years ago for improvements to the park, it has to remain a park. Golferi did admit that she had not personally researched the requirement set forth in previous grants, but was relying on Fenyes’ discussion with Kathy Hileman from the Armstrong County Planning & Development office about DCNR (grant) requirements.

“If you go anywhere else in the country, riverfront property is going for $50,000 per ten feet,” Charney said. “Riverfront property is riverfront property and you’re giving it away for a dollar.”

The next discussion centered around the police patrol targeting local club patrons.

Chris Trego said he has been president of the Ford City Eagles for the past three years. He blamed the Ford City Police Department for running off their patrons, citing a 30% drop in revenue over the past three years.

“We going to have to announce to many, many organizations, schools, groups, charity services, veterans’ groups, that we are going to be not able to support those groups with the amount of funds that we used to. (Patrons) will not come into Ford City anymore. They’re scared. They’re getting pulled over left and right for  no real apparent reason by our younger police force. I’m sorry to say this in front of you, but I’m going to be honest. You go outside at least 3 nights a week, one of (police) cars is sitting over there waiting for a member to come out. I went out the other night  and as soon as I came out, the low lights came on. As soon as I got in my vehicle, the headlights came on. As soon as I started my truck, they started their vehicle. Followed me all the way down to the Falcons. Never stopped me. No  infractions, no nothing. Went up the hill, no problem. Got to the very edge of the Borough at the old Sheetz parking lot, lights come on, pulled me over. Never told me what the offense was until the very end. They had three cop cars show up for an old fat, white guy that I don’t really think they needed three cars to stop me, do a breathalyzer and a finger test – and it was for a taillight that was out on my truck.”

Trego continued. “This is not, not the only instance. We have many! We have one guy. He comes in daily, plays the book, buys 1 (non-alcoholic) beer and leaves. He’s been doing this for 15-20 years. He’s been stopped 4 times. It’s not right. Now, if you guys want to get rid of some of the only business we have in this town, and all the donation money that we give out every year, that’s fine – we’ll close up. But, we cannot be (quiet about) this.”

Mayor Jeff Cogley, a member of both the Eagles and the Latin American Club, responded.

“I’ve heard your concerns  and to be honest with you, I have my own concerns. alright. But, for us to settle this right now, it’s not going to happen. I’ve told other officers of clubs, if you want to get together, we’ll have a meeting and talk about these issues. I’m very free and very open to do that. I know that we had had some problems with an officer that we felt was not doing justice and he is gone. I am not aware of anybody being targeted. But if you would see that, feel free – it’s America – and everybody has these things, go out there and take a picture of them so that I know when, where, how and why so I can follow up on it.”

Greg Hika, president of the Latin American Club, also commented.

“I don’t condone drinking and driving. But, we had the same discussion in our own club meeting.  Again, we would love to sit down with you and discuss, not just the DUI portion of it, but all the other things that are happening that aren’t even related to the drinking and driving issues. The biggest one I’ve heard – at least 10 in the last two weeks – was a dim light on your license plate on a brand new 2018 truck. Or, it was just some of them were really weird. But when you start having 10-plus people approach you and ‘I give up on Ford City’ is what they say, it’s sad.”

Mayor Cogley agreed to sit down within the next several weeks with club representatives to hold further discussions on the topic.