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Gates to mountain drive overlooking Reading rooftops? A harsh but necessary measure [Opinion]

Anyone who’s had an insect infestation in their home knows it’s a problem that cannot be ignored, no matter how difficult or expensive it may be to address.

The solution is almost always within reach. You just need to be spurred to action.

It’s the point when the ants, mice or some other invaders become intolerable. That’s when you call a professional exterminator, or, preferably, remove the attraction.

Take, for example, the chronic problem of large, unruly gatherings in public locations in and around Reading, especially the Pagoda and other Skyline Drive scenic overlooks on Mount Penn.

If I were king of the city state of Reading, I would enlist a few hundred volunteers in the manner the city does for neighborhood litter cleanups to promote pride and ownership.

The mere presence of a wall of 300 strong men, with walking sticks instead of rakes and trash pickers, would cause any group of illegal dirt bike and ATV riders — thugs who flout laws and taunt and fight police — to turn tail and head back down the mountain, never to return.

Lawyers, however, would object.

Alternatively, since the city cannot afford to deploy dozens of police officers every weekend for this singular problem, you need drastic measures to remove the attraction.

And that’s what Reading is doing.

Mayor Eddie Moran announced a plan Monday to install gates that will enable officials to close the problematic section of the Skyline Drive on weekend evenings. He said new gates will be installed at the Pagoda as well to replace the low gates that can be easily breached by those ascending Duryea Drive on lightweight two-, three- and four-wheelers.

Speaking at a City Hall news conference with Police Chief Eli Vazquez, the mayor said he regretted the need for such action, but other measures proved ineffective. The music blaring from the mountainside and general lawlessness destroys the quality of life of residents below, even miles away, he said.

Last Saturday’s dirt bike/ATV rendezvous was the tipping point.

After learning through social media that a large gathering was planned, the chief deployed the summer dirt bike enforcement detail, consisting of several police officers in unmarked patrol cars.

One of the officers heard the dispatch for a large, noisy group of dirt bikers at the Pagoda and unfortunately didn’t wait for backup.

What happened next was partially covered by various cellphone video footage circulated on social media.

As the policeman tried to arrest a man he saw on an unregistered bike, a crowd formed around the officer, assailing him.

Moran said it’s a shame it has come to this. He noted that he saw families enjoying the view from the overlooks last Saturday afternoon before the trouble began.

Who can blame city officials for this decision to close the problematic area on weekend evenings? The crowds that gather aren’t exactly family friendly.

You can’t ignore an ant trail.

Source: Berkshire mont

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