Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

Irwin votes against joint police department

- By Anne Cloonan Anne Cloonan, freelance writer: suburbanli­ving@post-gazette.com.

Irwin has rejected the idea of forming a joint police department with nearby Manor.

Bill Gamble, a contractor with the state Department of Community and Economic Developmen­t, had compiled a report on the two boroughs forming a joint department.

“Based on the report. … I don’t know that it was really beneficial to either borough,” Irwin police Chief Roger Pivirotto said before council voted unanimousl­y on April 12 against the plan. Irwin currently provides police protection to North Irwin, which brings in about $24,000 in revenue for Irwin.

Chief Pivirotto said if a joint department were formed with Manor, the Irwin police department would become a substation rather than the main police station, which would be in Manor.

He earlier advised council that a joint department would no longer be controlled by council members, but by a committee of people from both boroughs.

He also said a lot of the savings from a joint department would come from cutting officers’ shifts.

Manor police Chief George Valmassoni said Wednesday that the projected annual savings of $90,000 would have been divided between the two department­s, but that amount did not take into account some costs such as rent that would have to be paid to Manor for space for a joint department in its borough building and a salary for the person administer­ing the joint department’s pension and health care benefits.

Chief Valmassoni said Manor council members hadn’t voted on the creation of the department yet, but were waiting to see what Irwin council would do.

Also at last week’s meeting, council voted to accept the retirement of Mary Benko as borough manager on Sept. 1.

Council voted 7-0 to allow the Norwin Community Athletic Associatio­n to add two memorial plaques on brick columns at the Penglyn Park baseball fields in memory of two boys who played baseball with the associatio­n.

Andy DeFazio of the associatio­n said a plaque for David J. Nelson, who died in December 2005 at age 13, will be installed by the concession stand facing David J. Nelson field, and a plaque for Andrew O’Neil, who died in December at age 5, will be installed facing the other baseball field, which will be named for him.

Before the voting meeting, council held a public hearing on Irwin’s proposed medical marijuana ordinance and then voted to have the ordinance forwarded to Westmorela­nd County for review.

Under state law, a medical marijuana dispensary, or growing facility, cannot be located within 1,000 feet of a school or day care center, borough solicitor Zach Kansler said. An on-site physician, pharmacist, certified registered nurse practition­er or physician’s assistant must be present whenever a marijuana dispensary is open, he said.

Under the borough’s proposed ordinance, a medical marijuana dispensary could be located in Irwin’s commercial/business/residentia­l district, which is mostly centered on the western end of Main Street, or in the borough’s commercial highway or industrial zones.

A marijuana growing facility could only be located in Irwin’s commercial highway or industrial zones, he said.

After the county reviews the ordinance, another public hearing will be held, probably in June, he said.

Last week’s meeting was the last one for Councilman Brian Rasel, who is moving out of the borough.

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