June 24, 2008 |

Mount Washington plans to ask for more police, foot patrols in area

Mount Washington Community Development Corporation members plan to make an official request of the city for more police officers to be assigned to walk the streets of their neighborhood.

Attendees at a June 19 community forum meeting voted to adopt a resolution as the organization's official position. The matter was referred to the MWCDC board of directors for review and there will be a final vote by members scheduled for next month's meeting.

Police presence and violence in the community were made agenda topics at the monthly forum after an Arlington man was killed earlier that morning following a dispute at a neighborhood bar, Sonny's Place. Lieutenant Timothy O'Connor of Zone Three was the guest speaker that night.

Several times during his presentation Lt. O'Connor said he felt "understaffed." He added, "Nobody listens to me."

But board president Frank Valenta did. When the officer finished, Mr. Valenta alluded to his comments and asked for a motion on asking the city for more officers. His effort was successful.

Lt. O'Connor said there was a homicide investigation regarding the Sonny's Place incident. "I can't give the details."

The owner of Sonny's Place told Lt. O'Connor that the death was an "isolated incident" and that the people involved "were not from Mount Washington."

He added, "I want to keep the business going as long as I can."

Lt. O'Connor told the audience, "We can always use help from you," and suggested helpful information, such as locations of "nuisance properties," be reported to the police. Residents told him about such a property on Bertha Avenue where teens congregate for late night drinking and he said he would give the information to a nighttime supervisor.

He was also told about speeding along Grandview Avenue near St. Mary of the Mount school.

In other business, members discussed the organization's big fundraiser for the year, an event being held July 11 at a home at 207 Bailey Avenue, with a silent auction and performance by Harold Betters. Proceeds go towards the children's programs, parks and the Main Street program.

To purchase tickets visit www.tickets.com Keyword is MountWashington. Or call 1-800-919-6272.

Members also approved the following bylaw change:

"Any qualified issue votes taken at a membership meeting in accordance with Article XIV of the bylaws must be referred to the board of directors at the next scheduled board meeting for discussion, opinions, guidance and advice. The board's Article XIV recommendation shall be presented to the members at the next scheduled membership meeting for subject matter determination."

"That's confusing language. It is hard to follow. What does it really mean?" a lady asked.

Several board members responded, saying that the foundations giving the MWCDC money want a checks and balance system added to the operations. The change makes it possible for members and the board to be involved in decision-making, Mr. Valenta said. "There's not one group ruling the organization."

Executive Director Chris Beichner said the board agreed last month to hire a consultant this fall to assess the organization and to suggest improvements.

Also, there was an announcement of a block watch meeting for Bailey, Bigbee and Kambach Avenues 6 p.m. July 2 at Grandview Park. Guest speaker is police officer Christine Luffey.

Prior to the meeting's start Jennifer Henderson Germany of the Pittsburgh Community Reinvestment Group (PCRG) gave a presentation advocating safe and fair lending practices. PCRG will give a presentation on anti-predatory lending at the Allentown Community Development Corp. on Thursday, July 26, 6:30 p.m. at the St. John Vianney Parish Center. The meeting is open to the public.

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