Common curiosity for the common good

The following editorial appeared in the Pocono Record, Stroudsburg, Pa., on Jan. 31:

Prying neighbors get a bad rap, but everyone should appreciate the occasional curious snoop who sees something truly awry. They do everyone a good deed.

Take the neighbor who noticed something amiss on Yellowstone Drive in Sierra View development in Tunkhannock Township. An excavator was piling trash into a large hole, so the passerby contacted the Monroe County Municipal Waste Authority to take a look. Turns out the property owner had excavated a 10- by 12-foot hole and was putting construction refuse in it — everything from a disused kitchen sink and cabinets to paint. Waste Authority staff have cited 24-year-old Manuel Perez for improper waste disposal and causing a potential public nuisance. He’ll have to clean up the trash and take it to a licensed landfill.

Aside from the hole, the Tunkhannock Township dump is hardly unique. Wildcat dumps crop up all over the place, often despoiling stream embankments along lightly used roads. In November another curious passerby notified this newspaper about a cast-off collection of mattresses, oversized speakers, cabinets and upholstered furniture along Old Schoolhouse Road in the Delaware State Forest in Price Township. Publicity included a phone number, and a tipster was able to identify the responsible person. Otherwise, taxpayers would have footed the bill for that cleanup on public land.

The TV character Gladys Kravitz drove her neighbors Samantha and Darrin Stephens crazy in the popular 1960s sitcom “Bewitched.” Samantha and Darrin went to great lengths to hide Samantha’s irrepressible witchcraft from Mrs. Kravitz.

But the Stephens weren’t criminals, blighting and potentially polluting the landscape and water. When it comes to offenses like the dumps in Tunhkannock and Price townships, it makes sense to observe and report. Thank goodness for nosy neighbors.


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