Mt. Washington residents express concern over Grandview Avenue
The Mount Washington Community Development Corporation’s (MWCDC) June community forum featured a light agenda and an opportunity for community questions and answers.
Ilyssa Manspeizer, MWCDC executive director, provided an update on what some of the neighbors have been doing on Grandview Avenue with the assistance of Councilwoman Theresa Kail-Smith.
After contacting the councilwoman’s office and Director of Public Works Mike Gable she learned Mr. Gable hadn’t received the list of requested work. Ms. Manspeizer also said there wasn’t a line item in the city budget to cover the work being requested.
“He’s happy to review the list and if there are things he can do in the existing budget, he’s happy to do them,” she said adding she didn’t have a copy of the list of requested work to forward.
Ms. Manspeizer added the requested work would have to fall in the category of regular maintenance the city should be doing on the street.
A member of the audience commented she had a copy of an email from Mr. Gable to Councilwoman Kail-Smith stating $100,000 had been committed from the city’s Capital Budget for the Fort Pitt Trail Project.
She mentioned the councilwoman was quoted last year in the daily newspapers as having budgeted $1 million for Grandview Avenue and the Mount Washington neighborhood for such things as new benches and trash cans, sidewalk repair and to hire someone to pick up litter.
“We don’t want the street changed, we don’t want banners, we just want cleaning,” she said. “If anyone has been up to the West End Overlook, and that was initiated by Alan Hertzberg when he was our council person, it’s like night and day compared to here.”
“Probably one-tenth the people go up that go up to Grandview Avenue…and they have a dedicated person up there from DPW that takes care of it,” she said. “And that’s what we’re trying to achieve up here.”
She complained about the amount of dirt and litter around the existing splintered benches in the neighborhood. Adding although DPW empties the trash in the cans, they leave the litter and trash building up in the bottom of the containers.
“At night there’s rodents eating, it’s disgusting,” she said.
Another resident was concerned about the trash cans disappearing from the neighborhood. So far, he’s counted five cans that are now missing.
He said he’s talked to Public Works employees and they told him they aren’t taking the cans to be repaired.
“They’re being stolen,” he said.
Councilwoman Kail-Smith said the next steps should be to get a meeting which includes Public Works and the police commander to come up with a game plan on how to deal with the missing trash cans. She suggested a community group or committee be set up under the MWCDC to work with the city on the quality of life issues such as the ones being discussed.
Ms. Manspeizer said forming the committee is an interesting idea. However, she said, the MWCDC is about to embark on a “listening tour” of different people they heard from before and people they haven’t heard from before to find out what the issues are people are concerned with.
“Once we’ve done that, we’ll be able to make some decisions on what the next steps are,” she added.
The councilwoman said she likes to work with community groups and residents to put together lists of problems in the neighborhood. They work on the top three to five until completed and then move down the list to the next series.
“In some of the neighborhoods, they do block by block. It just depends what the community groups want to do,” she said.
As to the repair money she spoke about last year, Ms. Kail-Smith said she believed former Public Works Director Rob Kaczorowski planned to use RAD money to make the repairs. It was only $100,000 and she didn’t know where he planned to get the rest of the money.
Now the $100,000 is allocated toward the trails in Emerald View Park.
“That doesn’t mean Director Gable won’t do it, it’s a transition, he just needs to be aware of what the plans were,” the councilwoman added.
A resident asked if the $100,000 could be redirected from the trails to work on repairing the holes in the Grandview Avenue sidewalk.
Ms. Manspeizer said the RAD Board made it very clear the funding was for the trails and couldn’t be used for anything else. In addition, it’s being used as “match money” for $133,000 in state funding coming into the park.
The next community forum of the Mount Washington Community Development Corporation will be at 7 p.m. on July 17 at the Mount Washington Senior Center, 122 Virginia Avenue.