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New Windsor reshapes government, creates police force panel


On a busy Town Council night, New Windsor officials abolished the town's "standing committees," restructured the government departments and established a panel to investigate forming a town police force.

Judging from the heated discussion at the council meeting last night about what residents feel is inadequate police protection, the new panel will not lack citizen input.

Mayor Jack A. Gullo Jr. said the committee will include private citizens and three council members -- Ronnie Blacksten as chairman and Rebecca H. Harman and James C. Carlisle as members -- who will gather information about starting and maintaining local police departments for town officials.

"The committee is to do research for the town to guide it into the future," Mayor Gullo said.

Residents complained last night about children on the streets later than the town's curfew, neglectful parents and the inadequacy of the 20 hours of police protection the town gets through the State Police Resident Trooper program.

Trooper John Dunn, who on July 1 took over patrol duties for both New Windsor and Union Bridge, told residents last night that he is aware of their concerns. He asked that they give him a chance to make a difference.

Mr. Gullo said the new committee will give concerned residents the opportunity to research the options for themselves and help the council reach an informed decision.

"This is a point where the old adage, 'If you're not part of the solution, you're part of the problem,' comes into play," Mr. Gullo said.

Any private citizens nominated to the committee would be contacted later this month about participating.

The restructuring of the town's government departments was really a matter of changing the titles, and small adjustments in duties, for members of the Town Council.

"They never really functioned as committees, due to no malfeasance, but actually because people simply didn't have time to get together," Mr. Gullo said.

The former title, "committee chair," was misleading because each council member acts individually, and brings information from his or her department to the council.

The council members' new titles:

* Councilwoman Rebecca H. Harman is the financial liaison.

* Ronnie Blacksten is the police commissioner.

* Kenny Grimes is the public works supervisor.

* Terry Petry is the water works supervisor.

* James C. Carlisle is the parks and recreation liaison.

Council members Petry and Carlisle switched assignments because, as council liaison to the town's Planning and Zoning Commission, Mr. Petry encountered schedule conflicts and was unable to attend parks and recreation meetings, Mr. Gullo said.

Officials are also seeking public opinion about changing the direction of traffic on Brownie Alley, which runs north from Church Street to Main Street beside the building that was formerly Hesson's garage.

The building may become the site of the New Windsor Pharmacy when the store's lease runs out, and the pharmacist wants to have access to the building from Main Street.

The council is to make a decision during the Aug. 3 council meeting.

New Windsor has a new well and, as a result, officials have eased restrictions on development.

The new well on Hillside Drive pumps 70 gallons of water per minute, Mr. Gullo announced last night. Combined with the well on developer Mike Sponseller's Atlee Ridge land -- which pumps 30 gallons per minute -- the town now has the 100-gallon-per-minute supplement it required for its water supply.

The town will release 50 permits to developers on a first-come, first-served basis until both wells come on line with the town's water system, officials said.

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