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Mt. Oliver settles lawsuit with council president

 


The last order of business at the Feb. 18 Mount Oliver council meeting is the lead story: the $50,000 settlement of the civil rights lawsuit of council President Billie Michener.

The vote to approve the settlement was three yes and one abstention, with members Patrick Malloy, Darnell Sains said Corey McGough voting yes, and Mrs. Michener abstaining.

Council members George Farneth, John Smith, Sr ., and Christine Brendel were absent.

The next day, the settlement was approved by the judge. Pending some paperwork, it becomes final.

(For more on the settlement, read the full story in this issue of The South Pittsburgh Reporter.)

The evening’s first speaker was the borough’s new intern, Ricky Hopkinson, a University of Pittsburgh senior.

He reported an informational pamphlet on borough businesses, with borough information on the flip side, will soon be available in the municipal building.

He is working on the borough’s vacant building ordinance requiring the owner to inform the borough when a building becomes vacant, and pay a fee. Otherwise, the building receives free fire and police protection.

Businesses now pay a $250 business privilege tax to operate in the borough.

Mr. Hopkinson reported last month one proposal is a $250 fee which is refundable if a new tenant is found within nine months. Council must vote on the fee amount.

He also said the four borough businesses receiving matching funds in the county’s facade program -- Kullman’s Bakery, A&E Deli, Mount Oliver Styles, and Jalens II -- will next be taking bids to the county for approval.

Mr. Hopkinson designed a survey for all business owners asking what the borough does well, can improve upon, and more.

He will start, with assistance from resident Frank Bernardini, a pilot block watch program centered on Locust, Fremont, Stamm, and Frederick streets. The target area was chosen for its high crime concentration and tax delinquencies.

Mr. Hopkinson said he will have time to commit to more block watches in the summer when classes are out.

Mrs. Michener said residents interested in starting their own block watches should contact Mr. Hopkinson.

“We need ‘nebby’ neighbors. They are active in their communities,” she said.

Mrs. Michener said she and Mr. Hopkinson plan to start a business association, even if it is with two member businesses, to start.

In the mayor’s report, James Cassidy said there were five narcotics arrests, 29 uses of the canine units, and 565 calls, with the latter reflecting a slow month. All vehicles are in service.

He read a letter of resignation from eight-year borough officer, Sergeant Ed Besselman, effective February 23. He wrote he will be pursuing other opportunities with his family.

Anyone interested in interviewing for a police officer position should contact Mr. Cassidy at 412-431-7333, extension 110.

Mrs. Michener said a job posting on Craiglist for a borough meter reader was false. ”We are not hiring,” she said.

In the engineer’s report, council authorized the engineer to pursue grants from the Grable and Birmingham foundations for pavilions, benches, and new surfacing at Ormsby Park.

Mrs. Michener called the new, energy-efficient LED lighting in the 100 to 300 blocks of Brownsville Rd. “a huge improvement.” Grant money will be sought for the next lighting phase: from the clock tower to Quincy St.

Council also authorized Mr. Hopkinson to seek, with the Western Pennsylvania Conservancy, new trees in the business district.

Mrs. Michener said when the current trees were planted it does not appear anyone inquired about size as some trees block businesses’ names.

In the ordinance report, there were 255 violations for not shoveling the snow off sidewalks. Residents have 24 hours to clear sidewalks after a snowfall, or else they will be cited. A citation can also be issued if snow is shoveled into the street.

In the fire report, there were six calls in January.

Mr. Cassidy said if resident’s home smoke alarms go off, they should call the fire department even if they think a change in weather caused the alarm.

In the public safety report for January, Darnell Sains said the DUI task force made one arrest.

The K-9 units conducted 23 park-and-walks, three targeted patrols, two building searches, and one crowd control.

There were 144 park-and-walks, seven targeted patrols, and 25 community-oriented details. Of the 22 nuisance properties under investigation, eight are Section 8.

The parking meters are functioning again after holiday delays. The problem was the keys were misplaced, and the entire system had to be re-keyed and new equipment purchased.

The meters were out for 45 days. The total cost to the borough was more than $6,000, which includes $1,800 in lost revenue, $3,281 for revamping, and $999/month for the meter person’s wages.

The borough will look into the used meters the city is selling for $75 each. Most of the borough’s problem meters are at the Margaret St. area side of the borough.

In the public works report, Corey McGough said Columbia Gas will be putting in new gas lines on Locust St. The company paid the borough $3,000 to open the street, and will pave the entire street when the job is completed.

Mrs. Michener said Scholz Electric did a “phenomenal job” with the new lighting on Brownsville Rd.

She also acknowledged Miller Ace Hardware for the use of their forklift, and other assistance, with the lighting work at no charge.

In recreation news, Mr. Hopkinson wrote policies and procedures on the use of the Transverse Park field. The new permits will include a field permit application, and a facilities agreement. A concessions agreement is optional.

There will also be a new fee schedule.

Mr. Sains said the only people permitted to park on the street at the park this year will be the coach and a handicapped person.

The locks on the restrooms will also be changed. After use of the field, the coaches must clean the restrooms or be held responsible. They must also clean the playground after use by siblings of players.

The Pepsi coolers in the field house belong to the fire company and will be off limits to other permit holders.

The borough will reopen the building at the top of Transverse Park that served as a mini police station years ago. It needs to be cleaned as it contains old baseball equipment and other items.

Once a garage door is put on the building, it will house maintenance equipment such as tractors and weed whackers.

Overbrook baseball will be using the field.

“They must broaden registration to use our kids.

“Baseball and football will be open to our kids,” Mrs. Michener said.

Carrick soccer will also be returning.

In the economic development report, Mrs. Michener said she might reassign website responsibilities as Mr. Farneth was absent again, and things need done.

Regarding Waste Management, she said a new director will be coming on board, and the borough will discuss problems with him.

The hauler must pick up all the trash even if the bill is not paid by a resident. If that does not happen, she said to call Mr. Farneth as it is his committee and, if nothing occurs, then call the borough offices.

Mr. Sains said the problem of Waste Management not picking up all the garbage is a South Hills-wide issue. The communities are trying to use SHACOG to straighten out the service, he said.

In the question-and-answer session, a resident asked about the long absence of police Chief Frank Mosesso, to which council members responded he is on workmen’s compensation leave. Solicitor Deron Gabriel instructed them not to comment further.

Another resident said two youngsters with construction and public works backgrounds contacted him about the public works job. Last month, it was announced a full-time public works employee would be hired in the spring.

Mr. Sains said he did not know when the job would be advertised.

The resident also asked about the review and evaluation of the police functions by a consultant hired by the borough to make sure all state laws, procedures, and regulations are adhered to. He asked last month when it would be made public.

Mr. Gabriel said he must first review it for borough safety before it can be released.

The next council meeting will be on March 18.

 

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