Reports of the noise coming from Reading’s waterfront and mountaintop recreation areas may be exaggerated, Police Chief Richard Tornielli said.
“I think there’s a lot of drama whipped up about both of these locations that isn’t supported by the facts,” he said Tuesday at a City Council committee of the whole meeting. “And I think that’s a disservice to the work that our officers are doing.”
Though citations for noise have been issued at both locations, he said, so far this year, city police received only 16 calls for noise at Riverfront Park and nine for noise at the Pagoda.
“So there were only 25 incidents (of noise) reported to the police during that time frame,” Tornielli said.
Since 2019, Riverfront Park, south of Reading Area Community College, has become a popular destination for picnicking. The approximately 7-acre stretch, owned by the Reading Redevelopment Authority, has been dubbed Penske Beach on social media because of its proximity to Penske Truck Leasing, 255 Riverfront Drive.
Last week, Ryan Lineaweaver, president of West Reading Borough Council, and Don Pottiger, manager of Lower Alsace Township, addressed City Council with pleas for help with quality-of-life issues affecting the residents of neighboring municipalities.
“We’ve been dealing with hours of deafening music, flowing unabated across the (Schuylkill) river and into West Reading and beyond, sometimes daily,” Lineaweaver said.
West Reading Police Chief Wayne Holben said he has been in touch with Tornielli about the issue.
“The borough’s police department appreciates the good working relationship it has with Chief Tornielli and the city’s police department,” Holben said Wednesday.
“We are confident the Reading police are working diligently to improve the conditions at Riverfront Drive,” he said.
Other areas, incidents
Not all the loud music and other noise blamed on Reading’s waterfront originate there, Tornielli said.
“We investigated a report of loud music at Riverfront Park yesterday (July 4) that was actually emanating from West Reading,” Tornielli said.
City police, he said, also found some of the loud music and other noises heard on both sides of the river were coming from a gathering spot in Cumru Township.
Noise is not the only problem at the city’s riverfront and mountaintop recreational areas.
Police received 15 calls requesting service for other issues at the two locations, Tornielli said. Three involved dirt bike incidents, he noted, and two were reckless-driving complaints.
“We respond to the calls as soon as we get them or as best and as quickly as we can at both locations,” he said.
Police records show a total of 236 incidents on the mountain, but Tornielli said that figure is deceptive. Most of those incidents — 196 — were generated by the department’s proactive patrols and were not a result of complaint calls, he said.
“That means 80% of incidents that had to be addressed were proactive,” said Frank Denbowski, Mayor Eddie Moran’s chief of staff and acting city manager.
Knowing that helps the public build confidence in the police, he said.
“We hear the people being very concerned,” Denbowski said, “and we’re doing everything we can in a proactive way, and the chief is taking a lead on that, specifically at the two hot spots.”
Police routinely patrol the mountaintop and riverfront to prevent problems and will continue to do so, Tornielli said.
“We are deploying our officers up there as much as we can to get ahead of these problems, and I think it speaks for itself,” he said. “And hopefully it will continue to make an impact on those two areas.”
Tornielli said police recently collaborated with the public works department to secure the area around the Pagoda with gates and to paint yellow-curb no-parking zones along Riverfront Drive.
No-parking signs should be installed there this week or next, he said.
The newly painted yellow curbs on Riverfront Drive is expected to help cut down on the number — estimated in the hundreds — of those using Riverfront Park on weekends.
The measure is also aimed at alleviating traffic and parking congestion in the industrial park south of RACC.
“One of the complaints that we got about Riverfront Park was that folks bringing trucks back to Penske were having issues with the parking down there at the park,” the chief said.
The patrols and barricades at the Pagoda have decreased incidents in that area significantly, Tornielli said, and recent efforts are expected to yield the same results at Riverfront Park.
To prevent possible problems at Riverfront Park on Independence Day, the city barricaded Riverfront Drive where it intersects Canal and Franklin streets and stationed police with patrol cars there, he said.
Councilman Christopher Daubert said he appreciates all the efforts that are being made along the riverfront but is concerned objectionable activity will simply move to a different location.
Torneilli said police are on the lookout for that possibility.
Councilwoman Donna Reed also thanked the chief and police department.
“I appreciate everything you’re doing,” she said. “I’m sorry, you’re all going through this and this is taking the attention away from the rest of the city.”
The noise complaints are not diverting police from more serious crime, Tornielli said.
“One thing I want to assure everyone here and in the general public is these quality-of-life issues are not taking away from our priorities, which is to deal with the violent crime in the city,” he said. “We respond to these problems, but this isn’t taking our focus off of the real issues here.”
Source: Berkshire mont