New Castle News

June 22, 2013

Pulaski officials lock out Lions Club

Nancy Lowry
New Castle News

NEW CASTLE — The New Bedford Lions Club is seeking court relief to regain access to its meeting room.

The club members this week petitioned the Lawrence County courts for an injunction to get back into the building constructed years ago by Lions Club members, after the Pulaski Township supervisors locked them out of it.

The feud started with a bush.

Or maybe it started sooner, with a request for recognition and a demand for respect.

Either way, the supervisors and the Lions Club remain at odds with each other.

Since last fall, the supervisors have accused the club members of disrespecting township property. They filed vandalism charges and reportedly locked club members out of the community building that the Lions had donated to the township nearly eight years ago.

Supervisors Lori Sniezek and Sam Varano, through township solicitor Richard Harper, notified club members that to regain access to the club’s former meeting room, they must pay $355 to replace a four-foot bush that was removed, or remain barred from using the building.

The club members see things differently.

The township supervisors and club members had entered an agreement July 11, 2009, to transferred the 10-acre New Bedford Lions Club Park on Route 208 to the township. The agreement gave the Lions the right to continue having its monthly meetings in the building on the park grounds.

All went well, said club president Bruce Clingan, until Lions Club members asked that a commemorative plaque be placed on a wall inside the building to recognize that Lion Club members — past, present and future — had donated the community park.

“We offered to pay for the plaque,” Clingan said. “But the supervisors said they will not permit a plaque inside the building because it would set precedence and that everyone who ever pulled a weed or held a paintbrush would want the same recognition.”

Then, last fall, club members noticed an overgrown bush in front of the building that obstructed the club’s 1949 charter sign.

Clingan said he asked the township to prune the bush, then found someone else to do the work after it was not trimmed.

“The bush in front of the sign had been more dead than alive,” he said. “After it was trimmed, it looked so bad I pulled it out and planted two rose bushes.”

This led to demands from the supervisors, who claimed that club members failed to clean the building after using it, the Lions members said. The supervisors also changed the lock on the door and now are requiring a $100 security deposit each time the club uses the building.

“This has torn up the community,” commented Lion Joe Muscarella. He pointed out that the Lions, all township residents, do charitable work in the community.

“It’s all so petty,” agreed Clingan.

Attempts to reach Harper, Varano and Sniezek were unsuccessful this week.