At Monday night's Reading City Council meeting, several residents told council members that they are fed up with the loud partying going on at the Pagoda at all hours of the night and that something needs to be done about it.
"It's a free-for-all. It's an open party," Bill Sands said. "It is the end of the Pagoda as we know it. Is this the legacy that your administration would like to be known for?"
Justin Blatt said, "I don't think a lot of people realize how loud the music is. How it's pounding in your chest."
Blatt played a recording of the loud music for council members. He said noise-canceling headphones and loud fans can't even drown out the noise.
"It's a quality of life issue, and these quality of life issues become an increase in other crime events: littering, disorderly conduct, graffiti, trespassing on city property," Sands said. "The lack of police involvement and enforcement sends the wrong message, that this is an acceptable behavior when it is clearly not. As it escalates, you're inviting other illegal activities, which downgrade our neighborhoods and public safety."
"We seem to have a lot of quality of life issues that seem to fall on deaf ears. Ordinances are great if people were following them, but that's seemingly not the case. We're forced to listen to pounding music, racing cars, (and) dirt bikes up and down the mountain," Blatt said. "I don't want to be a pest to the police, but at the same time, I think that as law-abiding citizens, we have the right to live in a peaceful community that we all moved into."
"There's too much trash, too much noise and too much drug trafficking going on at what is one of our greatest assets, and it affects all of us," Councilwoman Marcia Goodman-Hinnershitz said. "We need a plan of action now and to make it a priority."
Councilman John Slifko said, "I'm walking away from (this) with much more of an acute awareness of the problem and an awareness that we need to act. We need to do something different than what we've done. This problem seems to have mushroomed this year, and we cannot let it continue."
Slifko thanked the residents for speaking up and said it's now up to the council and the administration to do something about it.
Managing Director Glenn Steckman said that Reading is "a very active city." He said part of the problem is that the city lost 50 police officers when it went into Act 47. Steckman said the police department has been spending money on overtime to help take care of the problem and the administration is looking into a new camera system for the area. He said he also hopes that the newly-formed Mount Penn Preserve Partnership Council of Governments (MP3 COG) will provide an additional police presence to help with the problem.