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
  • District Deaths July 31, 2014

    July 30, 2014

  • Smaller payout to seniors urged

    State Lottery officials say less means more for seniors.

    July 29, 2014

  • Portage ambulance aid will add portable CPR device, other tools

    Federal funding awarded to Portage Area Ambulance Association will soon put “a third man” alongside their two-person crews when emergencies occur, ambulance operations manager Edward Nelson said.

    July 29, 2014

  • paint_twp building Paint Township considers offering part of building for rent

    Four years after Paint Township built an addition at the Basin Drive building to house its growing police department, much of the new space likely will be offered for rent this fall because the township supervisors say it's no longer needed.

    July 29, 2014 1 Photo

  • Old Rockwood hotel will soon be history

    The historic – but dilapidated – Merchants Hotel in Rockwood is expected to be razed soon.
    On Tuesday, Somerset County’s three commissioners unanimously agreed to a demolition plan for the building, which was constructed in the 1880s. The arrangement calls for a private citizen, William Nair, to tear down the structure at 703 Main St. in exchange for being allowed to keep any salvageable materials.

    July 29, 2014

  • Tribune Treasure!

    July 30, 2014

  • ATV blast ready to roll at Rock Run

    Organizers are keeping the spirit of the Fisher’s ATV Reunion at Rock Run Recreation Area alive despite losing the support of the award-winning Outdoor Channel TV show “Fisher’s ATV World.” Now called the Rock Run ATV Summer Blast, the event will continue to offer demonstration rides, motor competitions, product vendors, live music, camping and trail riding.

    July 29, 2014

  • Culvert 1 Preservationists use age-old method at historic site

    Preservation work on two historic culverts associated with the Allegheny Portage Railroad National Historic Site has been completed. The culverts were reconstructed using a variety of techniques, including dry stone masonry, which was used to build the culverts more than 180 years ago.

    July 29, 2014 1 Photo

  • Local briefs 7/30/2014

    July 29, 2014

  • Officer, civilian motorist injured in crash

    A Johnstown police officer who was responding to an emergency and one other driver were taken to the hospital after they were injured in a three-vehicle accident around 5:40 p.m. Tuesday on Railroad Street at the intersection with Clinton Street and Church Avenue.
    The Johnstown Fire Department said that the three occupants of the third vehicle were not injured.
     

    July 29, 2014

Poll

What is the biggest key to reducing gun violence in Johnstown?

Tackling the area's drug problem.
Controlling folks moving into city housing.
Monitoring folks in treatment centers and halfway houses.
Tougher sentencing by the court system.
More police on the streets.

     View Results
House Ads