South Pittsburgh Reporter - Serving South Pittsburgh Since 1939

By Margaret Smyka
Contributing Writer 

Concerns, complaints about growing crime at Arlington meeting


January 5, 2010

Gunshots, squatters, and a city councilman's new Hilltop office were some of the topics at the December meeting of the 16th Ward Block Watch in Arlington.

Block watch president Susan Wielock said recent shots fired at the corner of Eleanor and Charcot streets at 3 a.m. woke her up, and she called 911.

Two officers arrived. One officer was sending a text message when he arrived, and never got out of his vehicle.

The other officer asked if it was possible the shots were fired from a deer rifle as it is hunting season. She told him, no, she knows the difference. He told her to go in the house and lock the door.

A police report was filed. Shells were recovered on Eleanor St.

In other reports, a man was seen in front of the St. Clair Athletic Association (SCAA) "shooting up" drugs one afternoon.

Also, homeless people have been spotted in the vacant St. Henry's Church. The windows are broken. Needles, liquor bottles, and coloring books have been found in the building. There is also a foul water odor.

When Ms. Wielock called the church's emergency line about the trespassers or squatters, the response was that it is cold outside.

Ms. Wielock called Michael Huss, the city's director of public safety, about a home on Charcot St. to which police are continually summoned.

According to nuisance property legislation, after three violations within 90 days, the property becomes a nuisance property. The owner then has to pay back the city on all costs incurred, such as police and building inspector calls to the site, unless action is taken to evict the tenant.

To an attendee's comment that officials said the neighborhood would be better off when the police station moved to the Hilltop, block watch vice-president Donna Wielock said Allentown crime is up.

Regarding building inspections, Susan Wielock said they told her "a house [on Charcot St.] off its foundation is livable." She won't call 311 anymore, she said.

Donna Wielock said that starting in February, she and Arlene Trost will be manning city Councilman Bruce Kraus' new Hilltop office. It will be located on Arlington Ave., and be open Mondays and Wednesdays from noon to 4 p.m.

The two women will be able to dial directly into the city's computer system, thereby bypassing the 311 line. They will also track responses.

Residents are urged to stop in and discuss their neighborhood concerns instead of travelling downtown.

"If you come in yelling at us we won't help you," said Donna Wielock.

In other news, Christine Luffey and other Zone 3 officers delivered Thanksgiving dinner and desserts to the homes of shut-ins and those living alone on the holiday.

About 508 dinners were passed out. Recipients had the option of eating instead at Tom's Diner or Folino's in South Side.

Next, Donna Wielock said it is hard to get squatters removed from buildings. For such a problem, call her or 911. Residents should not wait until the next block watch meeting.

An attendee said she called 311 about a car parked in front of her house for months. Nothing happened until she called the abandoned vehicles office in the city, and it was removed in a week. You have to research who to call, she said.

Susan Wielock said that Zone 3 Commander Catherine McNeilly was out of the office during much of December on vacation. In her place was Acting Commander Lt. Sloane who frequently cited "lack of manpower" for neighborhood problems.

An attendee next complained about an eyesore on Flack St. with building materials outdoors, even though the Bureau of Building Inspection (BBI) was called.

Ken Wolfe, who was representing state Rep. Jake Wheatley Jr., said Officer Luffey was aware of the situation.

Mr. Wolfe, who recently left Councilman Kraus' office, is a legislative aide to Mr. Wheatley. His new office is 2015-17 Centre Ave. He will remain president of the Zone 3 Public Safety Council.

The meeting concluded with Susan Wielock saying she used $250 from the block watch fund to buy Christmas gifts for the needy. The names of seniors needing help were strung on a tree at Parkvale Bank

She also bought gifts for needy youngsters and a mom from Arlington.

"I'd rather see our kids get stuff," she said.

The next block watch meeting will be on Feb. 8. The guest speaker will be 311 Manager Wendy Urbanic.


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