May 27, 2008 |

Pittsburgh councilman addresses Mt. Oliver Boro Council on issues

City Councilman Bruce Kraus was a guest speaker at the May 19 meeting of Mount Oliver council, updating members and attendees on nuisance bars, public safety, a June community meeting, and more.

The meeting began with a presentation by Boy Scout Kurt Miller on his proposed project for attaining Eagle Scout status.

Kurt, of Troop 228, wants to repair the old dec hockey rink in Ormsby Park and make it into two functioning basketball courts. The work involves tearing down and repairing fences, and cleaning and painting a wall.

He estimated the task could be accomplished over two weekends with 20 scouts as helpers. "They're good workers," he said.

He asked council for funding for two basketball hoops which, with an unconditional lifetime warranty and identical to those at McKinley Park, cost $3,400.

"Funding is something we have to work on," said council President James Cassidy.

Kurt said he needs the approval of council, the Boy Scouts, and the city. He is awaiting the approvals before setting a start date.

Council directed him to list $1,700 for the two basketball hoops as a less costly option will be sought. Council then voted 6 to 0 for approval, with Dennis Obeldobel absent.

In his presentation, Mr. Kraus said the Triangle bar on Amanda Ave. was on the nuisance bar "watch list."

According to the Pittsburgh city councilman, there are strict criteria for placement on the nuisance bar "list," as there almost needs to be a shooting inside for an establishment to make the list. But he would like to see Triangle on that list.

He said he would drop off forms for respondents to list complaints against the bar while remaining anonymous. He will then collect them and take to the next nuisance bar meeting.

Mayor Jeff Repasky told him the new cameras are recording, despite glitches, at the five-point intersection at Brownsville Rd., Hays Ave., Amanda Ave., Bausman St., and Sherman St.

He said the city police can access the information with laptop computers. Mr. Kraus said that as chair of public safety, he is in favor of that.

He also said he met that day with police Chief Nate Harper about concerns regarding the changing of commanders: Zone 3 Commander Larry Ross is being replaced by Commander Catherine McNeilly.

Mr. Harper said community meetings will be held in June to introduce Commander McNeilly, discuss local crime, and conduct a question-and-answer session.

Mr. Kraus said city council will be taking its meetings on a "road show" beginning in June by holding them in various areas. Tours of the area will follow the meetings. He said St. Paul Monastery may be a local site.

Assistant borough engineer Justin Wagner said bids will be opened on June 9 for construction contracts for sewer defect corrections.

Bids have also been received for the road program.

Mr. Cassidy said the borough has funding to resurface Stamm Ave., Locust St., and half of Sherman St. But it doesn't look as if it will be able to do Moye Place, although no decision has been made. Council planned to discuss it in executive session that night.

The borough planned to "piggyback" on a city contract to resurface Stamm Ave., Locust St., Sherman St., and Moye Place last year, but which never took place. This year, construction costs have increased.

In the public safety report, Patrick Malloy said 937 calls were answered last month, and police vehicles logged 7,267 miles. The canine officers parked their cars and walked 25 times. Officers parked and walked 95 times.

There were 168 target patrols in areas of concern. Forty-two nuisance properties were identified, and 4 cars were towed. The fire department also answered 13 calls.

In response to an issue raised by a resident last month about whether open pit burning fires are allowed, fire chief Tom Plietz said recreational and open burning is allowed by the county if regulations are followed.

He suggested council call a meeting to discuss permit procedures preparatory to establishing an ordinance.

Mr. Cassidy said until an ordinance is adopted, all fires will be put out.

In his report, Mayor Repasky said the comments of business owners near the five-point intersection on Brownsville Rd. love the new cameras. He called the cameras "a tool to help solve crimes."

If business owners pitch in to buy cameras, he said, he wants the cameras erected on polls and not on businesses.

"I want the system to grow if we can get funding," he said.

Deana Wuenschel said the Planning Committee is working to establish colors for facades and signages in the historic district. Then, someone who obtains a permit will have to follow a color chart.

A recommendation will be made to council in the future on specific colors. Mr. Cassidy suggested that business owners' opinions be sought.

To an attendee's question of why the borough doesn't recycle, Mr. Cassidy said it is not financially feasible for a community of less than 5,000 residents.

In the next report, ordinance officer Steve Wilharm said 93 violation letters were mailed, with about 80 percent of those for high grass.

In the public works report, council voted 6 to 0 to buy a new industrial, diesel tractor for the park that replaces the current 28-year-old tractor. Attachments can be added to it, like a backhoe.

The price of $11,963 will be financed for 48 months at 0 percent interest. The purchase piggy-backs a state contract.

Mayor Repasky said the new tractor will cut down on man hours.

In the economic development report, Billie Michener said she met the prior week with state and local officials about shared services, like grass cutting. City officials said they would look into shared services.

The dog catcher contract with Triangle Pet Control Service expires in October. She is looking into the cost of contracting with the city.

She also contacted Graffiti Watch about materials for removing graffiti. Contact them at graffitiwatch@gmail.com.

Mrs. Michener said removing graffiti as soon as it occurs, even multiple times, will frustrate the vandal who will eventually leave the property alone.

She also reported that letters were sent to 25 delinquent taxpayers, and that she would call the recipients on her own time. Fifty more letters will soon be sent.

In other business, Waste Management, the refuse hauler, counted 1,965 units in the borough, even those with over four units in the building. The borough is charged by unit count for its refuse collection. Any property owner with four or more units should be paying for a commercial hauler

The borough counted 1,436 units. The cost differential is roughly $50,000 per year

Mr. Plietz said he needs a list from Waste Management to compare with his list.

Attendee Rick Sikora, a realtor and resident, asked to be classified as a "recommended realtor" of the borough for increased credibility within the borough. No legality or liability would be attached, he said.

He is starting his own blog on the area to help attract out-of-state investors, he said.

Mr. Cassidy said the matter would be discussed later in executive session.

Mrs. Michener said vendors are needed for the week of July 15-19 for the Mount Oliver Community Day Festival. For information, call Mrs. Michener at 412-381-0420.

The next borough "clean sweep," in which volunteers remove litter from targeted borough streets, will take place June 22. Volunteers should meet at the fire hall at 8 a.m. Contact Ms. Michener with suggestions on sites to target.

The next borough meeting will be on June 16.

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