Upcoming events such as a Mayoral Candidates Night, Spring Redd Up, and Fresh Fridays were among the topics at the Jan. 24 meeting of the Mt. Oliver City/St. Clair Block Watch.
The meeting was held in the Saint John Vianney parish center before about 15 attendees, including city Councilman Bruce Kraus.
The meeting began with news the selling of the of Bishop Leonard School property is almost completed.
A “Meet the Mayoral Candidates Night” is being planned by the block watch in cooperation with the Allentown Community Development Corp. on March 21. The community will be invited.
Suzanne Photos reported “Fresh Fridays” are held once a month from 4:30 to 6:30 p.m., February through June, in the St. John Vianney Church parking lot, 823 Climax St. It is a project of the Hilltop Alliance.
The next Fresh Friday will be on Friday, Feb. 8, for which volunteers are being recruited. No pre-registration is required for the fresh produce distribution. Volunteers should contact Pat Murphy, executive director of the Hilltop Alliance, at 412-586-5807 or firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.
Besides qualifying based on income, the following conditions also qualify local residents for Fresh Fridays: receiving unemployment compensation, food stamps, cash assistance or medical assistance, SSI, or Social Security Disability.
Those experiencing a crisis situation are also welcome. Proof of zip code residency is required, such as a rent or mortgage payment receipt.
For more information, contact the Hilltop Alliance at 412-586-5807.
The block watch also approved participating in a spring Redd Up on April 19-21.
Attendees agreed for the Redd Up they would choose focus areas at the March meeting from the 2013 planning agenda to be formulated prior to the meeting.
The planning agenda lists items needing addressed, such as excessive overgrowth on St. Joseph St. near the city steps covering the sidewalks and forcing residents to walk in the street. Mountain Ave. near Fisher St. has the same problem.
Other issues include residents putting out trash too early or forgetting the holiday schedule; phone book directories delivered to vacant homes, prompting youngsters to shred and trash them throughout the neighborhood; and roads needing paved.
At last week’s meeting, potential solutions were discussed. One plan of action is to be pro-active and seek grant money.
Mr. Kraus said he would take the names of the roads needing paved -- Parkwood Rd., Rectenwald St., and Caus Way -- to a meeting about the city paving list. He will also do a ride-around in March and examine all the roads.
He asked the block watch to send him the addresses of the households putting trash out too early.
Questioned when the neighborhood can have street cleaners on a regular basis, Mr. Kraus said he would look into the policy. He will also look into the public code on the delivery of telephone books.
To the agenda item of posting block watch signs throughout the community, Mr. Kraus said the metal ones are hard to obtain. But he can supply paper ones for residents to put in their front windows.
To a question from a first-time attendee about the troublesome issues, Lynn Staab said the block watch is trying to make improvements.
“The biggest problem here is people just don’t care,” she said of the neighborhood.
On a positive note, Ms. Staab said Liz Style of the Mayor’s Office called and asked what the block watch is working on. Ms. Style said she would help direct the group to grants and lend other assistance.
To a question about salt boxes, Mr. Kraus said the city’s Public Works Department is not a fan of them. The biggest complaint is people either destroy them, or take the salt for use in their own sidewalks and driveways.
But he will bring the matter to the attention of Rob Kaczorowski, the director Public Works.
To the observation there are loads of leaves on Mountain Ave., an attendee suggested residents “adopt a street” to take care of such matters. “Adopt a block” is another suggestion.
Next, Ms. Photos said she is interested in applying for a mini-grant from the Birmingham Foundation on behalf of the block watch.
The issue to be addressed, once she learns the guidelines, is what to spend the money on should it be awarded. Attendees’ suggestions included children, crime prevention, and other safety issues.
As the block watch does not have 501(c)(3) non-profit status, the application will be submitted through the Hilltop Alliance.
Regarding recycling, Ms. Photos said local residents do not tend to recycle.
Mr. Kraus said as of Jan. 1, the city no longer collects TVs, computers, printers, and other such items at the curb. Instead they must be taken to an electronics retail store or collection location where they will be recycled.
To a question of whether the city will ever provide bins for recycling, Mr. Kraus said a problem would arise over who would be responsible for replacing the bins at rental properties. So, for the foreseeable future, blue bags will be used.
The block watch meets every other month on a Thursday, with no summer meetings scheduled at this time. For 2013, the meetings will be held at 7 p.m. on March 21, May 23, Sept. 26, and Nov. 21 in the Saint John Vianney parish center.