Gun advocates plan picnic with firearms in Hazle Twp.
Published: Thursday, October 9, 2008 4:09 AM EDT
There is going to be a picnic at Hazle Township Community Park on the last Saturday in October.

The weather may be chilly, so bring a jacket. And, if you’d like, carry a handgun on your hip — the party is being thrown by the firearm open-carry activists who have been attending public meetings in Hazle Township since July.

Greg Rotz, a member of Pennsylvania Firearm Owners Association and, who sought to rent a pavilion at the township park in July to hold a picnic for friends and members of firearms organizations, is organizing the late-October get-together.

Rotz said he sent to the township on Sept. 25 a pavilion rental application along with the $70 rental fee and a cover letter stating his intent of “refusing to agree to the firearms ban as a condition of use.”

Township planning commission secretary Lee Ann Kasha said this week Rotz’s application package was received but returned to him with a letter explaining the township discontinues pavilion rentals on Sept. 30 to winterize the park facilities.

“We don’t close the park, but we discontinue pavilion rentals, so we can drain the water pipes, winterize the rest rooms and get the place ready for winter,” Kasha said.

Rotz confirmed this week that his rental application was returned with a letter explaining the winterization process. But as long as the park is open, the picnic will go on, he said.

“Our picnic will be taking place regardless of the final determination in regard to the pavilions,” Rotz said this week.

The PAFOA Web site lists a tentative head-count of 50 picnic attendees.

William Gallagher, chairman of the township supervisors, said Monday he is unmoved by the group’s picnic plans. “They can show up at the park and walk around if they want to. There isn’t going to be anybody there. Anybody can go to the park and walk around if they want to, but the pavilions are closed for the season,” he said.

The supervisors first became acquainted with Rotz and other members of the pro-open-carry organizations after Rotz decided not to rent the park pavilion in July because, he said, he did not wish to choose between openly carrying his handgun and abiding by park rules.

The park rule, Rotz said, is a violation of Pennsylvania law.

Rotz said anyone who attends is invited to openly carry their handguns if they are not prohibited under Pennsylvania law to possess firearms.

Rotz said he plans to be at the park around 10:30 a.m. Oct. 25 to set up for the picnic., 570-455-3636