City officials know they have a problem with young people riding quads on Carbondale’s streets, in violation of a city ordinance.  But just in case they didn’t, a local resident gave them an earful about it.


City officials know they have a problem with young people riding quads on Carbondale’s streets, in violation of a city ordinance.  But just in case they didn’t, a local resident gave them an earful about it.
David Thomas, Carbondale Twp., spoke out about the issue at a City Council meeting last week.  He resides on Park St. — just a few houses from the city border near Russell Park, where he said the problem is “completely out of control.”
“They’re terrorizing Russell Park,” he related.  “Russell Park is a nightmare, it’s an absolute nightmare.”
“This town should not be run by a bunch of thugs and punk kids,” he insisted.
Thomas stated that he has personally been assaulted and threatened by young people on quads, and he has disabled elderly family members who live in the city and are harassed by them as well.
Many other people feel the same way, he said, insisting that he could have “filled this place [council chambers] to capacity” with city residents who are alarmed about the situation.
Mayor Justin Taylor acknowledged that the city has been getting “a lot of calls” from residents about the issue.  He noted that barricades have been erected at some locations, such as on Cortland St. and Fern Ave., but Thomas said the quad riders simply drive through peoples’ yards to avoid the barricades.
Thomas also suggested that some of the quad-riding youths may be members of local gangs, explaining, “There are at least three gangs operating in this town right now.”
Chris Melodia, the city’s code enforcement officer, said he has been on police patrols when he saw youngsters on quads “go face-to-face” with cops, spin around right in front of them and take off at a high rate of speed without flinching.
“They don’t care,” he related.  “Mr. Thomas is right, they just don’t care.  They have no respect for or fear of the police.”
Councilman Dr. Joseph Marzzacco argued that enhanced police enforcement will be required to address the matter.
“A more aggressive approach is needed,” he offered.
Councilman Anthony Perri concurred, stating, “We’ve got to be able to stop them.”
The council members discussed several potential strategies for dealing with the problem, such as trying to identify some of the trouble-makers so their quads can be confiscated — with fines and storage fees assessed — at least while their cases are being adjudicated.
Complicating matters, though, is the fact that the city is currently being sued in federal court over a 2009 incident in which a quad being driven on city streets was pursued by a police vehicle and a crash occurred, causing severe damage to the ATV and reported injuries to the 17-year-old girl who was riding on the back of it as a passenger.
Since then, police have not been pursuing quad riders who are in violation of the city’s ATV ordinance, although Taylor told the NEWS that the revised policy isn’t due solely to the federal lawsuit.
“It seems like anytime we chase a quad, there’s an accident,” he explained, “and we’re certainly not looking to do that.”
The council members agreed with the new policy, as did Thomas, but he said the city has to come up with a way to get control of the problem without endangering the lives of the young people riding the quads or the general public at large.
“Let’s arrest these kids,” he stated.  “Let’s go after their parents and teach them something about being responsible.”
“Or are we going to let them run our town because of one frivolous lawsuit?”  he asked.
The problem isn’t limited to the City of Carbondale, either.  During a meeting of the Fell Twp. supervisors earlier this month, several residents complained about the same thing happening there.
A Simpson woman said the situation has gotten “way out of hand” in the township.
“These quads come out of nowhere and they’re going so fast that if they hit someone, that person’s dead,” she stated.  “There’s no question about it.  That’s how dangerous these kids are.”