South Pittsburgh Reporter - Serving South Pittsburgh Since 1939

By Margaret L. Smykla
Contributing Writer 

Public safety issues, Brownsville progress before boro council

 


Vandalism, trespassing along with foul and threatening language by groups of teenagers leaving Ormsby Park at night brought two Church Ave. residents to the Oct. 17 meeting of Mt. Oliver council.

“We are victims,” said one woman, who has had rocks thrown at her car.

To a question from the other woman if she can defend herself on her property, police Chief Matthew Juzwick said yes, if she fears for her life. But he would rather have her call the police at 911.

The women said the trouble starts after 6 p.m. when it starts to get dark and is difficult to see the youngsters.

“We’re going to start taking matters in our own hands,” they said.

Councilman Nick Viglione said Ormsby Park should be closed at dusk. In the past, the police have chased youngsters out at that time, and it worked.

One woman said when she yelled at adults who were encouraging a fight between two girls in the park, a man pulled out a gun and aimed it at her. She called 911, but the man was not found.

“Residents need to call 911 when they see anything,” council President Amber McGough said. If all the calls about a certain area come in, say, between 6 and 8 p.m., the chief will know when the trouble is occurring, and send officers.

Chief Juzwick said to “call 911 for everything,” as once it gets in the computer system he can track it.

The meeting began with the police report for September as read by Mayor James Cassidy.

There were 495 total police calls and 37 drug-related arrests, the latter for the seizure of marijuana, crack cocaine, heroin, and drug paraphernalia.

There were also 20 domestic calls, 2 DUI arrests, 12 criminal mischief complaints, one burglary and two robberies. The police department served 10 arrest warrants, and arrested three males with illegal firearms.

All computers are up and running. 

In the engineer’s report, council approved payment to Jet Jack, Inc., for $22,635.50 for work completed under the manhole-to-manhole lining contract. The vote was 6-0, with Councilwoman Barbara Keener absent.

Council also voted 6-0 to approve payment to Palombo Contracting for $81,135.92 for work completed through Sept. 30 on the Brownsville Rd. sidewalk contract.

In the planning report, Deana Wuenschel reported the borough’s comprehensive plan is complete, and will require a vote to adopt by council after it has been reviewed.

In the code enforcement report from inspector Chuck Knaus for September, Councilman David Beltz reported there were 36 rental licenses (70 units), 17 complaints, 33 violation notices, one zoning permit, 28 borough citations, and five occupancy inspections.

In public safety, council hired part-time police officer Bruce Waldo, who will start within the next two weeks.

In the public works report, Councilman Justin Viale gave a brief update of public works activities in September: continued weekly street detail in which the department spot-sweeps trash on the borough’s most visible streets; continued to cut parks (bi-weekly now); continued coordination with utility, paving, and sidewalk contractors; continued crack-sealing program; trimmed low-hanging trees on Fulton and Walnut; performed five dye tests; prepared and set up for Fall Fest; and more.

In resolutions and ordinances, council adopted two resolutions requesting grant funds from the ALCOSAN GROW grant program: for reimbursement of expenses related to construction of the Transverse Park sanitary sewer project completed in 2015, and for expenses related to the construction of the proposed Walnut St. parking lot.

Council also adopted two resolutions requesting grant funds from the CDBG (Community Development Block Grant) program: for expenses related to the construction of the proposed Hays Ave. handicap ramp project, and for expenses related to the construction of the proposed storm inlet repair project.

Grant funds were also requested from the Commonwealth Financing Authority Small Sewer and Water Projects for the construction of the proposed Anthony St. sewer project.

In the question and answer session, one of the women who complained about youths leaving Ormsby Park asked why the Brownsville Rd. work was not yet completed, especially with winter coming on.

Mr. Viglione agreed it should be done by now. Chief Juzwick said he talked to the contractor, and the hope is to have it all completed by Thanksgiving.

Mrs. McGough said council was told paving would start next month.

Former councilman Frank Bernardini said Columbia Gas and two contractors “sold us a bill of goods.” He said five intersections keep being opened up to do and undo things, and nothing is ever completed.

Mr. Viglione said the borough has to begin to fine the contractors.

Borough manager Rick Hopkinson offered this update on the Brownsville Rd. utility project: Colosimo was contracted by Pennsylvania American Water Co. and Columbia Gas to do the restoration work. Colosimo began permanently restoring the ditch lines in the 300-500 blocks on Oct. 3, as well as all of the curb and sidewalk that was disturbed.

They are working six days a week with two to three crews per day and are expected to be completed with this work by the first week of November. Immediately following this, they are expected to begin paving.

Concerns about the dangers created by school busses transporting students to and from Arlington PreK-8 School was again raised as it has at prior meetings.

The school is the renovated, former Phillip Murray School, which reopened this year as Arlington PreK-8.

An attendee said school busses “fly” up and down Penn Ave. He said a child was almost hit, as he was, as vehicles run stop signs.

“Laws don’t count no more, I guess,” he said.

“We can’t be in every stop, 24/7. We don’t have the manpower,” Chief Juzwick said.

He also said he and Mrs. Keener have talked to the school district, but not much action seems to have been taken.

Councilwoman Tina Reft said running red lights is a bus company issue; if enough tickets are written, the bus company will act.

The mayor said there were 93 traffic stops in September for traffic violations, so the police are aware of the problem, and taking action.

Mr. Bernardini said the traffic problems run throughout the borough.

A Horn St. resident whose yard extends to Overhill St. asked for a “No Parking” sign on his side of the road for all residents. He said a drug dealer on the street has visitors’ five to six cars taking up spots every evening, and the cars remain for days.

Mr. Hopkinson said the borough is looking into the matter.

Next, a new borough resident introduced himself, and said he is interested in volunteering, if the need arises.

The final resident who commented said there are at least six vacant properties on Locust St., but that day they had garbage in front of them. One property even had four televisions for pick-up, while another had tires, which is not permitted.

Mr. Hopkinson said he would look into the matter.

In upcoming events, the fire department will hold a “Monster Mash” from 8 p.m. to midnight on Oct. 29 in the fire hall, 120 Brownsville Rd. It is for members ages 18 and over, and for non-members over age 21. The cost is $10 in advance, and $15 at the door. Food and beer are included; BYOB.

For more information, call 412-390-4135.

The next council meeting will be on Nov. 21.

 

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