South Pittsburgh Reporter - Serving South Pittsburgh Since 1939

 
 

By Margaret L. Smykla
Contributing Writer 

Mt. Oliver Borough approves new Comprehensive Plan

Former councilman pushes for nepotism policy

 

Mt. Oliver Borough Council formally adopted the Mt. Oliver Borough Comprehensive Plan at its last meeting. The plan is available at www.mountoliver.us.

The adoption of the Mt. Oliver Borough Comprehensive Plan headlined the Feb. 20 meeting of Mt. Oliver Borough Council.

The purpose of the plan "is to decide what the future of the borough will be," said Debby Grass, an urban planning consultant who was retained by the borough to develop the plan.

The comprehensive plan will serve as a roadmap for development and redevelopment in the neighborhood including housing, parks, the business district, infrastructure and more.

In her brief overview, Ms. Grass said the plan focused on five issues: providing a wide variety of housing opportunities in stable and attractive areas; encouraging a diversity of neighborhood businesses, services, dining, and entertainment; having a safe and efficient transportation system, including public transit, roadways, and biking; creating a sense of place such that the borough is heralded for its diverse, accepting, and cultural environment; and establishing simplified future land use regulations to accommodate a wider variety of residential arrangements.

The entire plan may be viewed on the borough website (http://www.mountoliver.us/), at the Knoxville branch of Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh, and in the borough offices.

The borough Planning Commission recommended approval.

"What's really hard is to look at the action items and move forward," Ms. Grass said.

The meeting began with Mayor James Cassidy reading a proclamation declaring March 5-11, 2017 as Multiple Sclerosis (MS) Awareness Week in Mt. Oliver.

In the email to the borough from a member of the Pennsylvania Keystone Chapter of the National Multiple Sclerosis Society asking for the proclamation, it is stated 24,000 people in the state are living with MS, a disease of the central nervous system that disrupts the flow of information within the brain, and between the brain and body.

Symptoms range from numbness and tingling to blindness and paralysis.

No cure currently exists.

In the police report for January, the mayor reported there were 513 total calls and 23 drug-related arrests, the latter for the seizure of marijuana, crack cocaine, heroin, and drug paraphernalia.

There were also 22 domestic calls, seven criminal mischief calls, and five robberies; the robberies occurred on St. Joseph St ., Ormsby Ave ., Sherman St ., and Brownsville Rd.

The department served 11 arrest warrants, and arrested two adult males who sold heroin to undercover Mt. Oliver officers.

Referring to narcotics and firearm issues, the mayor said "arrests are steadily on the increase": there were 411 drug/firearm arrests in 2014, and 555 in 2015. In 2016, there were 576 such arrests.

The K-9 units were used 10 times, including for park-and-walks, tracking, and targeted patrols.

All computers are up and running. 

Police Chief Matthew Juzwick said the borough is looking to hire another full-time officer following the resignation of a full-time officer to accept employment elsewhere.

In the engineer's report, council President Amber McGough gave a brief overview of two projects.

The first is that the borough anticipates planning and design in 2017, with construction in 2018, of Brownsville Rd. streetscape in the 300-500 blocks. Funding is from a grant program through PennDOT. The borough received the grant to upgrade the remaining sidewalk on Brownsville Rd. on both the borough and city sides within the 300-500 blocks, or from the clock tower to McDonald's Restaurant.

Mt. Oliver was awarded a GROW grant from ALCOSAN for reimbursement of costs associated with the Transverse Park sanitary sewer repair project completed in 2015 for $76,600. To receive the final funds, the borough must complete a post project evaluation report, which may require additional flow monitoring.

In the end-of-year 2016 report of the Mt. Oliver Fire Department, read by Mrs. McGough, there were: 707 incidents, of which 574 were EMS and 133 were fire related.

Members continued to perform a number of public education classes consisting of fire safety, CPR, and first aid.

Bingo began on Jan. 21, and will continue. The annual fish fry will kick off on March 1.

In the code enforcement report from inspector Chuck Knaus for January, there were 12 complaints, nine occupancies, 27 rental licenses (63 units), 12 citations, and 23 violation/notices.

Councilman David Beltz said he would talk with Mr. Knaus and borough manager Rick Hopkinson about the problem of residents putting their garage by the curb on Fridays for Monday pick-up. Setting it out too early draws rodents, he said.

By borough ordinance, garbage cannot be put out before 6 p.m. on Sunday.

Former councilman Frank Bernardini suggested Mr. Knaus taking a day off during the week and working Saturday to cite residents whose garbage is out all weekend.

In the public safety report, council voted unanimously to approve the Body Worn Camera (BWC) policy which is an internal policy governing the usage of the new body cameras, as well as the storage and retention of data. It will become part of the police department's Standard Operating Guidelines.

Council also voted unanimously to accept the resignation of police Officer Patrick Lucas who accepted employment elsewhere.

In light of their one-year probation periods coming to an end, Officer Brian Prunty was hired as a full-time officer, and Corporal Adam Candioto was hired as a full-time police corporal. Both votes by council were unanimous.

In unfinished business, Councilman Nick Viglione said he would like to have a nepotism ordinance. Mrs. McGough said one will be worked on.

In public hearings, Mr. Bernardini said Mrs. McGough should resign as president and from council, declaring there was a conflict of interest stemming from an incident in her husband's former employment with the borough.

At a special meeting last month, Corey McGough was fired as a public works employee. Mrs. McGough was not in attendance at that meeting.

In response to Mr. Bernardini's comments, she said she would not resign as she is not involved in any personnel matters involving her husband.

Mr. Bernardini said a nepotism policy is needed.

"We're not moving forward. We're on a treadmill," he said.

After the firing, there are now two public works employees. Mr. Bernardini said instead of filling that slot the borough should hire a full-time police officer.

Next, a resident said a beat officer is needed. He said he heard two gunshots on the street, and it took 10 minutes for an officer to arrive.

The resident also asked about getting rid of 12 tires which were left at his house when he bought it. Councilman Justin Viale said he would find out where the tires can be taken for disposal.

The last speaker was a landlord/property owner with seven properties in the borough who asked that sewage and garbage bills be sent to tenants in addition to the property owners. Currently, only the property owners receive the bills as they are responsible for paying them.

Council told him that for years, bills were sent only to tenants, who often did not pay them, which landed the homeowners in trouble.

The mayor told him to incorporate the sewage and garbage charges into the rent he charges.

The landlord said he owes the borough $9,000 in unpaid sewage and garbage fees. He is delinquent three years in paying the garbage fees.

He said he would like the borough to remove the penalties he has been charged.

Councilwoman Tiny Reft said she would meet with him and review all of his documentation.

The next council meeting will be on March 20.

 

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