VANDALISM? CORRUPTION? HAVE NO WHERE ELSE TO TURN? NO STORY TO BIG OR SMALL THE OSN WILL INVESTIGATE! Please email news tips to Hildelysiak@gmail.com
August 16, 2017
By Hilde Kate Lysiak
An email obtained exclusively by the Orange Street News confirms a local business owner’s allegation that the Borough Manager trashed his Italian Restaurant to several members of the community.
Borough Manager Paul Williams fired off the email from his official government Selinsgrove.org email account on June, 15th at 3:40pm explaining to the many people CC’d that Isabella’s Restaurant on Market Street “is yet another “highly regarded” business owner and merchant that I stopped frequenting months ago,” according to the email obtained exclusively by the OSN.
The email did not state which other Selinsgrove businesses the Borough Manager had stopped going to. The OSN has agreed to not name the person who leaked the email out of fear of retaliation from Borough Members.
G Terry Madonna, the Director for Politics and Public Affairs at Franklin and Marshall College told the Orange Street News that an email of this kind from a public official was “an improper use” of government email and added “Now arguing about the fall out over a tree, no pun intended, seems even more off as a reason not to patronize a facility. Maybe there is something else going on.”
The OSN met with the Borough Manager to get his side of the story. When confronted with Napoli’s allegations about the email Mr. Williams said “no comment.” Asked again for his side of the story, Mr. Williams repeated “no comment.”
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.
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.
The email in full read:
“I made an observation at Isabella’s following your telephone call there are two flood lamps that project from the wall of the restaurant near the top of the building façade it appears that the frame on one of the light fixtures that may be unhinged from the frame because while it is still intact it is in two halves while Domenico claims that it must have been caused by the tree branches striking the light fixture when there was high winds, there is no way of knowing that. I spoke with Domenico and as is common place the conversation and attitude goes down hill. We walked outside and he pointed to the street trees in front of Bella’s and across the street at Bobbie Jean Owen’s stating that they are all beautiful trees, sarcastically. There may be a need for pruning up the canopy in front of Bella’s and I know that the shade tree commission has engaged an arborist to conclude the good health of the mature tree in front of Owen’s. When members of the shade tree commission have an opportunity to make a observation of the noted trees, you can then better judge for yourself whether the Shade Tree Commission needs to address any concerns. Mr. Napoli ended the conversation on this note: I ought to see how Vivace did it and just pay for the fine; threatening to have the tree removed by morning. And this is yet another “Highly regarded” business owner and merchant that I stopped frequenting mouths ago.”
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