Road Named After Priest Stays The Same In Hazle Twp.
HAZLE TWP. — Father Angelo Drive residents could have another chance at deciding whether the street should keep its name after a vote they cast Monday ended in a draw, a township supervisor said. Six residents who live on the street that was named for the late Rev. Girard F. Angelo — who was accused in a Pennsylvania grand jury report of sexually abusing a teenage male decades ago while he was assigned to a parish in Williamsport — could not reach a consensus on whether it should be renamed. The supervisors asked residents from the nine households on Father Angelo Drive to settle the naming issue by silent vote at a public meeting Monday. Representatives from six of those homes attended the meeting, but voted 3-3. With no clear directive from the public, the supervisors adjourned with a promise to evaluate the issue further and possibly give Father Angelo Drive residents another opportunity at determining whether the street keeps its name, according to supervisors’ Chairman Jim Montone. Montone said he hoped for all nine households to be represented Monday. “We don’t want to make a decision for them,” Montone said. “Unfortunately, six (people) showed up and the vote was split. I thought it was going to be pretty cut-and-dry tonight. It didn’t happen that way.” The supervisors announced plans for holding the meeting about Father Angelo Drive soon after the release of the Pennsylvania grand jury report on sexual abuse by Catholic priests. Angelo died in 2009 following a tenure that included 31 years in Hazle Twp. as administrator and pastor at St. Raphael Roman Catholic Church in Harleigh and as pastor emeritus when the church was renamed Sacred Heart of Jesus. The street in Ridgewood that bears his name is a few blocks from the former Sacred Heart church and shrine. Angelo denied the sexual abuse accusations from earlier in his service during an interview with the Most Rev. James C. Timlin, bishop of Scranton. Deadlocked Montone opened the meeting by emphasizing the supervisors were approaching the naming issue as a “practical” matter, rather than a religious or political issue. “You never want to discuss religion and politics — especially together,” Montone said. “We’re leaving it up to you guys.” Supervisor Francis “Butch” Boyarski shared similar sentiments. “We’re going to listen to you 100 percent,” Boyarski added. Montone said the supervisors scheduled the meeting after he received calls from residents who asked whether the township would rename the street in Ridgewood development. The change has limited impact on the township, which would have to come up with an alternate name, replace a street sign, and have that new name reported and approved by Luzerne County 911, Montone said. The brunt of address change ramifications falls on residents who must update personal information that ranges from driver’s licenses and credit cards to utility bills, deeds and wills, township officials said. About a dozen residents attended the meeting, but none took advantage of Montone’s invitation to comment publicly from the podium. A woman who spoke from her seat in the audience — and did not give her name — said she believed the decision should be left solely to residents of Father Angelo Drive. “It’s our financial responsibility and our work,” she said. The woman said she went through an address change undertaken by the township a few years ago. “I held out for so long to buy a plaque,” she said of the address change. “It’s an expense to us.” The supervisors said they weren’t disputing the remarks and could understand arguments on both sides of the issue. Silent vote The supervisors told audience members that one person from each household would vote. Attendees voted at a desk near the secretary where they completed unsigned forms and voted for or against a street name change. The forms were placed in blank envelopes and turned over to the supervisors. The supervisors publicly opened and tallied votes. When learning of the tie vote, audience members rejected ideas pitched by Montone for having all township residents weigh in on the issue or resolving the matter by adhering to a tie-breaking vote drawn from a hat. The meeting had a relaxed atmosphere, with residents at times speaking cordially with the supervisors. When asked by residents, the supervisors said the township would not pay costs that result from an address change. An attendee asked if residents should ask the Diocese of Scranton to foot the bill. After learning of the tie, Montone said the supervisors would delay a vote Monday to discuss legal issues with the solicitor. He indicated that Father Angelo Drive residents could be invited to another meeting, with the hope of having all households on the street represented. All of the attendees declined to talk further about the street naming issue later Monday. Contact the writer: firstname.lastname@example.org 570-501-3586