Monday, May 10, 2004


In this weekend's Delaware County Sunday Times, columnist Gil Spencer reported on the plight of residents in one Middletown (Delco) community. It involved an abandoned car near the former Lenni Rail Station on the "inactive" (read: abandoned) R3 branch between Elwyn and West Chester. State Police were recently called to tow an abandoned vehicle on the lot, which is maintained for by neighbors. Only one problem...

But for some reason, the trooper seemed to be giving (resident Paul)Pujol a hard time about towing the vehicle. Pujol seemed to be giving the trooper a hard time back. If the trooper didn’t have the car removed, he told him he’d just go over his head. Call the township. Call Harrisburg.

Finally, after seeing the ignition on the car had been punched, the trooper agreed to take the car.

"Hooray," shouted Verna, so the trooper could hear her. "Way to go Paul. It’s gone!"

But it was the trooper who yelled back, not Paul.

"They all might be gone soon," Trooper Bruce Williams called out, according to Verna.

It was only later Verna understood what Trooper Williams meant. According to the state police the owner of this little sliver of land is SEPTA.

As Sgt. Tony Sivo explained it to me, after being jawboned by Pujol, Trooper Williams "took the initiative," and called SEPTA, which was not even aware it owned the property. Thanks to Williams, it does now.

"What they plan to do with their own property is up to them," Sivo said.

But Pujol believes Williams mischaracterized the problem to SEPTA, making it seem as if the neighbors were threatening to bring legal action.

According to Sivo, state police aren’t supposed to tow abandoned cars that are sitting on private property.

"He (Williams) was acting in good faith, trying to resolve the situation," Sivo said.

The only reason Williams contacted SEPTA was because "we feel this is going to be an ongoing issue," said Sivo

As for other cars that might have been towed over the years, Sivo said, "if they were towed then we did it wrong."

I said it sounded a little like they were punishing the neighborhood because of Pujol’s complaining.

"This has nothing to do with what they were complaining about," Sivo said. "It has to do with what we are not allowed to do by statute."

I called SEPTA Friday afternoon to find out what its intentions are.

"Because we were contacted by the state police we are considering posting no parking signs," said SEPTA flak Sylvana Hoyos, marking it a tow-away zone.

The neighbors have been in touch with SEPTA trying to work something out so that they’ll be able to continue parking there.
Delaware County Sunday Times

Okay, a few comments...

How can the Pennsylvania State Police consider SEPTA lots "private property" when both are in effect state agencies?

How on earth can SEPTA not know what land it owns? I know it's been 20 years since trains stopped at Lenni, but you'd think someone at 1234 Market could do a better job keeping track of its own land.

Besides the fact that it's cheaper, why would Middletown (Delco) not have its own police department? I'm sure the State Police have better things to do, such as transport Gov. Edward G. Rendell (D-Pa./Comcast SportsNet) at high rates of speed along the Turnpike.

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