Bugs in the bed, and council members bugging each other about community center dances, were running themes at a sometimes cantankerous Wilson Borough Council meeting Monday night.
Lynn McLaughlin of Branchburg, N.J., a landlord with a property at 113 N. 16th St., called on council to create a new ordinance that would force landlords in the borough to take action with bed bug infestations.
“If a tenant’s apartment is part of a row house, the ordinance should require every landlord in the building complex [to] hire an exterminator to come inspect their apartment,” said McLaughlin. “If bed bugs are found, the landlord should be required to have them removed by a reputable exterminator so they do not travel from apartment to apartment.”
McLaughlin said that a bed bug infestation from an apartment adjoining one she rents out led to a serious infestation of her own tenants’ apartment, creating what she considers a health hazard for tenants and prompting at least one of her tenants to make moving plans.
“Landlords in Wilson Borough should be obliged to keep their rental apartments bed bug free,” she added. “I need help and I’d like it quick.”
Borough officials listened with apparent sympathy but indicated that any new rule would require time to research. Zoning Administrator Paul Corriere noted that the issue did not fall under his jurisdiction.
Councilwoman Joan Lilly-Kemmerer suggested that the borough check with the Pennsylvania State Association of Boroughs, of which Wilson is a member, to learn about possible guidelines for such a law, and whether such local ordinances exist elsewhere in the state.
But that would take time, according to several council members. Councilman Russ Lipari warned, “I don’t believe that you’ll get an ordinance enacted in the next month.”
According to a Penn State Extension factsheet, the blood-sucking insects can indeed migrate from house to house, and from building to building over power-lines. The Pennsylvania General Assembly has taken up the issue, but at the moment, the bill closest to adoption, SB908, or the Bed Bug Eradication Act, has been languishing in committee.
In other news, a motion to pass a set of rules for dances at the Strausser Community Center turned into a series of explosive personal confrontations.
A motion by Lilly-Kemmerer to approve the six-page document titled “Wilson Recreation Board Fundraising Dance Discipline Policy” became the subject of intense debate between Lilly-Kemmerer and Councilman James McGowan, who at times seemed to be hectoring Lilly-Kemmerer.
Repeatedly, McGowan raised objections about various proposed policies related to everything from dress codes and the setting-up of chairs to the presence of police officers at larger dances.
At one point, McGowan appeared to be condemning the entire process of council deliberation, at least in matters led by Lilly-Kemmerer.
“That’s the same [BS] that happens every time,” he bellowed.
Lilly-Kemmerer accused McGowan of nitpicking, saying “Jim, you are so against this, it doesn’t matter what we do, you’re against it!”
When tempers had cooled a bit, Councilman Lipari, who thanked Lilly-Kemmerer for helping put together the extensive dance policies, said to his fellow council members, “I just wish we could discuss these things in a lot more civil manner – but it might not be as much fun.”
In the end, council passed the motion to approve the rules 7-1, with McGowan the sole – but very loud – "no."
After adjournment, McGowan expressed frustration at how the community center, which he said was always intended as a place primarily for Wilson seniors, now had “200 people there every Friday night for dances.”
And he made no apologies for this tough tone at meetings.
“I don’t discuss things civil. I spent 45 years in the truck industry,” he said.
The meeting was sparsely attended by the public, and Mayor David Perruso and Councilman David Williams were absent.