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Councilman wants public meetings on new library building

 

October 27, 2009



A new local library building was the big news emerging from the October meeting of the Upper Knoxville Block Watch.

Guest speaker Councilman Bruce Kraus said there is a plan to merge the Carrick and Knoxville branches of Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh into a new facility at a site to be determined.

Funding would come from the $50 million the library system raised in its capital campaign.

Mr. Kraus said the new facility is about a year away. During the interim, he wants to set up town hall meetings in cooperation with the library system to determine "what we want the library to be."

"We have a chance to get in on the ground floor," he said. (

As no property has been secured for the new building, residents may make suggestions and add their input to the acquisition process.

Mr. Kraus, who is a library board member, said he suspected that adequate parking would be part of the new facility.

The news came days after library officials announced a plan to close four branches in early 2010 — Lawrenceville, Beechview, West End, and Hazelwood — to cover a projected budget deficit in excess of a million dollars. Merging the Carrick and Knoxville branches was part of the plan.

There will also be system-wide layoffs and reduced operating hours.

A major funding problem facing the library system is potential cuts in state funding.

Mr. Kraus said he will work during the city budget process to increase the city's annual library contribution from its current $40,000.

The other guest speaker was Wayne Bossinger, field operations manager for the Bureau of Building Inspection.

The best time to call inspectors, he said, is weekdays from 8 a.m. to 10 a.m. before they leave for field work. The BBI has 75 employees, 45 of whom are inspectors. BBI receives 10,000 complaints a year.

After a complaint is investigated, notices are sent to owners to remedy the problem. About 60 percent of the time, owners respond. The other 40 percent of the time notices are not effective as the owners live out of state, or simply cannot be located.

When the process breaks down, this can occur: demolition after the property is condemned; property clean-up by Public Works/Redd Up; or the last resort — using public dollars to clear property. A pending, new city-wide computer system will speed up the processes, he said. It will also allow all departments to work better together.

To an attendee's complaint that she calls 311 about an abandoned house that neighborhood children remove items from, block watch president Mary Ann Bennett said to get a reference number when calling 311, and then keep calling back to get a status update. Also, she said, keep a record of the calls.

Mr. Bossinger said the city has 1500 condemned buildings, with the "most dangerous" taken down first. The average cost of tearing down a house, he said, is $8,000 to $10,000.

In neighborhood news, Ms. Bennett read a list of 168 reported crimes in Knoxville from Aug. 1 to Sept. 30.

They were: 6 aggravated assault, 4 accident, 1 armed person, 5 burglary, 29 criminal mischief, 1 defiance, 1 direct violation, 16 drugs, 1 DUI, 1 false ID, 1 fraud, 15 harassment, 4 hit-and-run, 1 ID theft, 22 incident, 1 luring, 1 PFA violation, 3 prostitution, 2 rape, 5 reckless endangerment of a person, 17 simple assault, 1 stolen vehicle, 1 theft by deception, 9 theft from auto, 18 theft from person, 1 theft from residence, and 1 warrant.

The distribution of the 168 total reports in the areas covered by Knoxville's three block watches are: 68 reports, or 41 percent of crime stats, in Upper Knoxville; 64 reports, or 37 percent of crime stats, in the 30th Ward; and 36 reports, or 22 percent of crime stats, in McKinley.

Of the 68 reports in Upper Knoxville, the breakdown by blocks/streets is:

• aggravated assault (4): 400 block of Jucunda St. (2); 200 block of Charles St. (1); corner of 400 block of Charles St. and Grimes Ave. (1)

• armed person (1): corner of Charles St. and Grimes Ave.

• burglary (2): 100 block of Zara St. (2)

• criminal mischief (16): 100 block of Orchard Place (1); 400 block of Orchard Place (2); 100 block of Jucunda St. (3); 300 block of Jucunda St. (1); 300 block of Charles St. (1); 400 block of Charles St. (2); Amanda Ave. and Charles St. (1); Charles St. and Ibis Way (1); 100 block of Zara St. (1); 300 block of Rochelle St. (1); 100 block of Knox Ave.(2) defiance (1): 400 block of Charles St.

• drugs (8): unit block Amanda Ave. (1); 200 block of Orchard Place (1); Amanda Ave. and 100 Charles St. (1); 300 block of Zara St. (2); Ibis Way and Rochelle St. (1); 100 block of Rochelle St. (1); 300 block of Rochelle St. (1)

• harassment (2): 100 block of Jucunda St. (1); 100 block of Zara St. (1)

• hit-and-run (1): Grimes Ave. and Dove Way

• identity theft (1): 400 block of Orchard Place

• incident (15): Ibis Way and 100 block of Orchard Place (1); Ibis Way and Sylvania Way (1); 400 block of Orchard Place (1); 200 block of Jucunda St. (2); 300 block of Jucunda St. (2); 100 block of Charles St. (1); 400 block of Charles St. (1); 100 block of Knox Ave. (1); 100 block of Rentz Way (1); Rentz Way and Knox Ave. (1); 400 block of Rentz Way (1); 200 block of Rochelle St. (1); Rochelle St. and Grimes Ave. (1)

• REAP (reckless endangerment of a person) (2): 300 block of Jucunda St. (1); 100 block of Charles St.

• simple assault (6): 200 block of Jucunda St. (1); 100 block of Rentz Way (1); 400 block of Charles St. (1); 100 block of Zara St. (1); 200 block of Rochelle St. (2)

• stolen vehicle (1): 400 block of Jucunda St.

• theft from auto (1): 100 block of Orchard Place (2); 200 block of Orchard Place (2)

• theft from person (4): unit block of Knox Ave. (1); 200 block of Jucunda St. (1); 200 block of Charles St. (1); 200 block of Zara St. (1)

The next block watch meeting will be in 2010.

 

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