A half dozen Heritage Park residents attended the Oct. 2 Trappe Borough Council meeting to discuss their concerns about the neighborhood, located behind the Trappe Shopping Center.
The residents report that a group of approximately 20 teens, ranging in age from 13-18, have been harassing people in the development and engaging in criminal activities in the neighborhood, as well at the adjacent Trappe Shopping Center and Waterworks Park.
“They are intimidating,” one resident reported, saying she and her 9-year-old were called names and harassed as they walked from their Heritage Park home to the CVS store in the Trappe Center. Her car was also broken into recently and electronics and other items were stolen.
The residents have been in touch with the state police numerous times over incidents ranging from general harassment, to fires being set, odors of marijuana in the tunnels at Waterworks Park and the scaling of the walls of the shopping center to run along the roof of the building.
“It doesn’t feel like a good place to live,” reported a resident. “We call the police and it takes them 10-90 minutes to get to us.”
While the state police initially told residents to call whenever they felt the need, one officer recently told a resident to only call if they see actual criminal activity.
“We’d love for you to raise our taxes and get a police force,” one Heritage Park resident told Council.
Councilman Paul Edwards responded by saying, “we began doing a study several years ago on the feasibility of a local police force, but the study was not completed.”
Borough Manager Jacqui Guenther has been in contact with the state police about the situation and says the force has been making more rounds in the area. The manager of the shopping center has hired a security guard who has identified all of the teens involved.
Council president Fred Schuetz suggested that the neighborhood put together a town watch. Residents were directed to the borough website for information on organizing a neighborhood watch program. All council members encouraged the residents to contact the police whenever they needed to and asked Manager Guenther to follow-up on the comments of the officer who asked them not to call.
Brian Long, Trappe Fire Chief, said that his department could put more presence in the form of marked vehicles in the park and around the neighborhood. He also supports an organized town watch.
“Where are the parents of these kids?" one resident said to Council, reporting that the teens are hanging around after school until the late night hours.
“When one of my neighbors approached a father of one of the boys to warn him that the police were being called, the father coldcocked my neighbor. It just doesn't feel safe."
Council asked the residents to keep them informed through the borough manager and pledged support of a neighborhood watch group.
The next Trappe Borough Council meeting date has changed due to Election Day on Tuesday, November 6. The public is invited to attend the next meeting on Tuesday, November 13 at 7 pm at Borough Hall.