ROSS TOWNSHIP — Nearly 10 months after a man opened fire at a Ross Township supervisors meeting, killing three people, officials are taking steps to clean up the property at the center of the entire controversy.
Ross Township supervisors voted unanimously this week to have the two structures that accused shooter Rockne Newell built along Flyte Road demolished and have the property cleaned up.
The township purchased the condemned property near Saylorsburg at sheriff’s sale only days before Newell allegedly went to a township meeting and opened fire.
Now, neighbors and township supervisors say it’s time to move on.
Tires, trash, and even televisions all sit along Flyte Road near Saylorsburg. Rockne Newell owned the property until it was condemned and bought by Ross Township.
Now, township supervisors say it’s time to get rid of it all, and move on, something neighbors along this road say is long overdue.
“It’s a big improvement for the whole community, because I go that road quite often and you like to put your hand up like this, not even look at it,” said Leslie Ott of Ross Township.
Supervisors voted unanimously this week to demolish Newell’s makeshift house and garage then have the site cleared and a culvert bridge removed.
Ross Township bought the property at sheriff’s sale just days before Newell barged into the August 5 supervisors’ meeting and allegedly started shooting. Three people died.
“He was told how many times to clean it up, wouldn’t do it, but the people who had to die, that was sad,” said Deborah Searfoss of Ross Township.
A Ross Township supervisor we spoke with says this cleanup will cost the taxpayers about $11,500 as he still struggled to address the issue 10 months later.
It’s something neighbors like Leslie Ott understand.
“They probably were a little leery because they were the ones supposed to have been shot that night.”
Before crews can begin to clean up everything left behind by Rockne Newell and now trash from others, township officials say this ground has to dry out just a little more.
“It’s a dumping ground now. Everybody knows there’s old TVs there now that weren’t there before. It looks pretty bad,” said Ross Township official Scott Gemmell.
Gemmell says he drives by this mess at least a few times a week and will be relieved to see it go.
Officials believe when work does begin, it should only take a few days, something neighbors feel will help this community still working to heal.
“I think it will help a lot with the neighbors around here, (to) see it finally get cleaned up,” Searfoss said.
The township has yet to set an official date for the demolition with the contracting company it hired, but officials call the project a top priority.