Lynne Squilla, Mount Washington Community Development Corporation board president, couldn't resist making a bad pun when local resident Ed Thomas brought up his concerns about a bow and arrow hunter tracking deer on Lupton Street.
“The buck stops here,” she said.
MWCDC members pledged to help Mr. Thomas at a monthly forum meeting September 21 in which progress was reported regarding on-going projects and plans were made for the election of officers and board members on October 19.
“I've tried everything,” said Mr. Thomas regarding his attempts to resolve his problem. He is concerned about the safety of children and the “bad image” created when the hunter brings back his prey in front of children playing near the Community Center in Duquesne Heights. He has had several discussions and arguments with the hunter, who said the game commission rules supersede city by-laws, and Mr. Thomas has checked with the game commission himself and was told the man “is a completely legal hunter.”
Mr. Thomas was pleased to hear that the MWCDC is responsible for stewardship of local parks and that area includes that particular street extension, Cupton Street. MWCDC members referred the matter to its health and safety committee and promised to contact the hunter. “We can speak for you,” a member told Mr. Thomas.
In other business, board member Frank Valenta spoke of the MWCDC's intervention on behalf of the community at a recent Housing Court hearing. Mr. Valenta said he believes the MWCDC testimony was helpful in convincing the judge to levy a $4,000 fine on the owner of an unsightly home considered to be a neighborhood eyesore. “It did my heart good,” Mr. Valenta said.
MWCDC has been considering publishing photos of neighborhood “nuisance properties” in its newsletter, the ViewPoint, if conversations with property owners do not resolve the problem. Members said they would be following the lead of similar organizations in other city neighborhoods that fought to improve their communities.
Staff member Greg Panza and member Kim Barthelmes spoke about continuing community clean-ups as a way of honoring Mayor Bob O'Connor's memory.
“He was a great man with a vision who saw the beauty of the city behind the grafitti and litter,” Ms. Barthelmes said. They suggested residents take responsibility for a small part of the Mount and watch over it and clean up litter. Mr. Panza passed around a sign-up sheet.
Ms. Squilla reported on a “challenging” project being started, thanks to generous contributions from Heinz Environmental Endowments and the Richard King Mellon Foundation. There will be efforts to upgrade the hillside along Grandview Avenue between Monongahela Incline and the rectangular observation post.
MWCDC wants to improve the rest of the hillside with money it hopes to get from the Department of Conservation and Natural Resources and looks on this early effort as an experiment to see what will work regarding improvements, Ms. Squilla said.
“Greening up the hills,” removing invasive plants and planting shrubs and low-growing trees are some of the goals.
“There will be a lot on the agenda” for the October 19 meeting, Mr. Valenta said. Eleven board seats and five officer slots are up for election that night, in which several by-laws will also be approved.
Those running for office can explain their qualifications and plans. Three or four of the several by-laws up for approval will also be discussed.
Although some persons have announced they plan to run for first vice-president, second vice president, treasurer and secretary, none is running for president yet. Write-in candidates can be nominated at the meeting.
Members will also vote on a letter MWCDC plans to send to Forest City, the developer which wants to situate a slots casino at Station Square.
Ms. Squilla said she is not running for reelection.