The Tribune Democrat, Johnstown, PA

Local News

December 27, 2013

Drive-in sign spat heats up

PORTAGE — The Portage Bar-Ann Drive-In is rallying support in its coming legal battle against Portage Township.

The issue stems from the placement of the nearly 60-year-old drive-in theater’s sign in the center of the 40-foot-wide Cyran Alley, which is a township-owned right of way.

Supervisors claim it’s a driving hazard and have received reports of fender benders around the area. On the advice of township Solicitor Calvin Webb, who said the township could be held liable for damages or injuries sustained in a sign-related crash, the supervisors filed an injunction against the drive-in to have the sign removed. A preliminary hearing is set for Jan. 24.

But drive-in operators claim that losing the sign would mean losing business. Manager Dustin Grush said there would be no way to find the Springhill Road drive-in in the dark. A petition is being circulated, with “several pages” of signatures from residents and local businesses, all demanding that the supervisors back off.

Supervisors said they have been receiving a multitude of emails, some in support of the township’s stance, some threatening to oust the supervisors in the next election cycle.

“The support from the local businesses has been outstanding,” Grush said. He said he plans to take the petition to the hearing, as well as the Jan. 6 township supervisors reorganizational meeting, where drive-in supporters are being urged to attend and voice their concerns.

“We hope that the supervisors and the judge can see what kind of impact their decisions will have on the surrounding community,” he said.

But supervisors have claimed that there is no other option – their duty is to protect citizens. Supervisor Rick Olshavsky said the township’s liability insurance policy is not robust enough to cover crash-related injuries.

“Can I sleep at home if somebody hits this sign?” he said. Since the sign has become a public matter, now that residents have complained in public meetings, the township can’t avoid the issue. “If we don’t take care of this, what’s that called? Negligence.”

Supervisors also have made it clear that this issue is not an attack on the drive-in, which has been a beloved local institution for decades – and a boon for local commerce, according to Supervisor Ben Selapack.

“Try to go up to Sheetz on a night the drive-in’s open. It’s packed. The drive-in helps everything,” he said. “Local businesses benefit by it.”

Justin Dennis covers Portage Township for The Tribune-Democrat. Follow him on Twitter at Twitter.com/JustinDennis.

1
Text Only | Photo Reprints
Local News
  • bank1 West End bank robbed

    The West End branch of AmeriServ Financial was robbed Tuesday morning, two days before the branch is scheduled to close.

    April 15, 2014 2 Photos

  • weather_2 Old Man Winter returns to area

    Just when you think we’ve finally escaped the cold temperatures, winter swoops back in to remind us it’s not going away just yet.

    April 15, 2014 2 Photos

  • Home is Where The Tribune-Democrat is Delivered!

    April 15, 2014

  • City seeks support for sewer revamp

    The city is looking for backup from the Johnstown Redevelopment Authority in spreading what they call “true” facts and figures regarding the city’s encompassing sewer revamp.

    April 15, 2014

  • Airport gets lift with $180G grant

    The John Murtha Johnstown–Cambria County Airport needs to replace some basic maintenance equipment: a pickup truck, painting machine, chain saw, weed eater, hand tools and more.
    So, on Tuesday, the airport’s authority agreed to accept Pennsylvania Department of Transportation Bureau of Aviation grant money that already has been tentatively allocated.

    April 15, 2014

  • Cresson asks court to force ex-chief to sign pact

    An agreement reached more than a month ago between Cresson Borough Council and its former police chief still has not been signed, and the borough is asking a judge to intervene.

    April 15, 2014

  • hamer 16 Mom told to seek help for addiction

    A Johnstown woman charged with tossing her 4-month-old baby and with drug-related offenses pleaded guilty and was sentenced in Cambria County court on Tuesday.

    April 15, 2014 1 Photo

  • District hopes refinancing will save additional $40G

    Refinancing about $4 million in debt will result in savings more than twice as large as initially expected, Windber Area school board members learned Tuesday night.

    April 15, 2014

  • Elder justice events set

    In an effort to combat elder abuse in area communities, an elder justice seminar will be held from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. April 24 at the Johnstown Senior Center, 550 Main St., downtown Johnstown. In addition, a free elder abuse clergy training seminar will be held from 8:30 to 10 a.m. April 25 at Moxham Lutheran Church, 500 Park Ave., Johnstown.

    April 15, 2014

  • Local briefs 4/16/2014

    April 15, 2014

Poll

Do you think that Jack Williams will get the 270 signatures from city residents needed in order to have a referendum placed on a municipal ballot to have the city's pressure test mandate repealed?

Yes
No
I'm not sure
     View Results
House Ads