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By Hilde Kate Lysiak
A local business owner is furious after alleging that a local public official trashed his business in an email after a dispute over damage caused by a borough tree.
The trouble started after Domenico Napoli, owner of Bella’s Pizza at 23 S. Market Street, noticed that one of the borough owned trees had crashed down on his property, causing damage to one his lights. Napoli contacted the Borough to let them know about the damage and shortly afterwards, Borough Manager Paul Williams stopped by the restaurant, according to Napoli.
Here is what Napoli told the Orange Street News what happened next.
“He asked me if I had actually witnessed the wind blowing and the tree branches hitting the lights. I thought he was a little funny about it. No one is going to stand in the middle of the tree and witness the tree branches hitting the light fixture. Then he just looked at me with a very sarcastic look like talking down to me and he says we are not going to do nothing about your light,” Napoli told the OSN.
But it only got worse for the business owner. After refusing to help Napoli, the Borough Manager fired off an email to members of the community letting them know that he will no longer be doing business with Napoli’s restaurant, according to Napoli.
“On the very same day he sent an email that I think is very disturbing from a man in his position, a public official, to slander a local business, stating that this is another another establishment or merchant that I stopped frequenting months ago,” Napoli told the Orange Street News.
Napoli eventually hired a contractor and paid the $500 out of his own pocket to repair the damage.
But now Napoli is calling on the Borough Manager to be dismissed.
“For someone in his position to use his power I think that’s grounds for dismissal and he should probably be dismissed from his duties because at best he is a member that gets paid from all the businesses downtown that pay taxes that’s how his job revenue comes up I believe so for him to talk in the negative way about the downtown business when we all strive year after year to bring business in our downtown and yet our borough manager is happy to send an email that he stops frequenting restaurants or merchants in our downtown. That’s really disturbing,” Napoli told the Orange Street News.
The OSN met with the Borough Manager to get his side of the story. When confronted with Napoli’s allegations and asked if they were true Mr. Williams said “no comment.”
Asked again for his side of the story, Mr. Williams repeated “no comment.”
Damage on private property caused by borough owned trees, which is run by the Shade Tree Commission, is the borough’s responsibility, according to public regulations.
This isn’t the first time Borough leaders and small business owners have butted-heads. As business in Selinsgrove continues to struggle many have told the OSN that Borough Officials who are supposed to be helping, have only made it more difficult to survive.
Last year after Micheal’s Restaurant closed, owner Judy Stahl told the Orange Street News that one of the reasons she closed was that she didn’t feel supported by public officials, who she says could do more to help business.
“The Borough Council do not care about the businesses,” Stahl said.
Stahl told the OSN that grant money was promised to her business but that the Borough went back on their word.
In December a local business owner and the Shade Tree Commission made headlines in October after a Selinsgrove business man tried to replace a tree on his own property and was fined $150 because he didn’t first get permission from the Commission.
An Orange Street News investigation revealed that out of the forty-seven store fronts on Market Street between West Pine and University Avenue nearly one fifth are empty or for rent and that number doesn’t include the buildings that are houses or apartments.
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