South Pittsburgh Reporter - Serving South Pittsburgh Since 1939

By David Assad
Contributing Writer 

Boro moves forward with street paving, municipal garage


Mount Oliver municipal engineer Ruthann Omer presented two options for council to look at for the summer road re-surfacing program, estimated to cost the borough $524,000.

Omer suggested council act as soon as possible on the engineer's proposals because she does not want the re-surfacing program to extend beyond the summer, the traditional time for resurfacing streets in Western Pennsylvania.

“We don't want to be doing this when it's snowing although I have had roads re-surfaced when it was like that [with other municipalities],” Omer quipped.

During its monthly business meeting on May 17, council unanimously approved a resolution authorizing the engineer to advertise for bids to re-surface a number of streets in need of repair.

This tentative list for road re-surfacing includes Quincy Ave., Onyx Ave. (from Hays Ave. to Brownsville Road), Fulton Place (from Onyx to Giffin Ave.), Hays Ave. (from Margaret Street to Brownsville), School Way (from Penn Ave. to Sherman Street), Penn Ave. (from Hays to Ottillia Street), Goldbach Street, Charles Street, Middle Street (from Charles to Arlington Ave.), Bertha Street and Louisa Street (from Margaret to Ormsby Ave.).

Council also authorized borough solicitor James Perich to secure a loan agreement to pay for the road program that will be paid annually over an eight-year period. One millage point within the borough's tax collection budget has already been taken into account to pay for the loan.

None of the streets will require major reconstruction. The work will primarily consist of replacing the existing asphalt surfaces. Minor curb work, drainage and milling is also expected to take place.

During the public hearing part of the meeting, a resident from Anthony Street complained to council that curb work done during a major overhaul of his street less than two years ago is deteriorating already. Omer said she is aware of the problem and is busy working to rectify the situation through the contractor who did the original work.

Another resident also addressed council during the public hearing to express his appreciation for cleaning up the mess that constantly occurred on Locust Street due to the carelessness of a business on Brownsville Road. The dumpsters of the Brownsville Road business, whose backdoor is located on residential Locust Street, are no longer over-flowing with debris with it now being collected twice a week. The Locust Street resident also thanked council for having the borough police take a more active role on the street at night since he complained last month.

The man said due to a stronger police presence, there are no longer suspicious vehicles (with drivers inside) parked on the street at night. The man did not want to say what he suspected was going on in these vehicles, but everyone at the meeting thought he was referring to drug-dealing activities.

In other business, council approved a resolution read by the solicitor to adopt the borough's “Comprehensive Plan.”

The first comprehensive plan in was adopted in the borough 32 years ago, but was in need of revision.

At last week's meeting, Planning Commission member Jim Caylor highlighted some of the features of the comprehensive plan that his board has worked on for two years.

The comprehensive plan includes a detailed report on the borough's demographics, economic base, housing and neighborhoods, community facilities and services, parks and recreation, land use and zoning as well as a profile of the business district and transportation.

Debra Grass, an independent consultant for the borough, noted in the comprehensive plan that businesses in the borough are geared more toward service enterprises than retail.

Council president Marty Palma said formally adopting a current plan will assist the borough in its preparation for requesting grant money. Many of these grant applications require documented profile of a municipality before they accept the borough's formal request for grant money.

Grass is in the process of identifying and filling out paperwork for numerous grant applications that may benefit the borough. In recent years, Mount Oliver has had major infrastructure renovations done to its street and sewer system (overseen by the borough engineer) due to federal and state grant programs.

“[Grass] is finding out what grants are out there and what would be applicable to the borough in filling out applications for…our police, fire, administration, public works, recreation, all of them,” council president Marty Palma said. “Any funding out there that's available, [Grass] is our liaison between the borough and these grants.”

At the meeting, Palma thanked Grass, Roberta Saraff, assistant borough engineer Jean Stadler and the planning commission (consisting of Caylor, Tammy Obeldobel, Gerard Wuenschel and Deana Wuenschel) for completing the comprehensive plan. Caylor reminded Palma to also thank solicitor Perich for the contribution he made.

In other business, Mount Oliver Chamber of Commerce President Ralph Woods informed council that Community Day activities on July 24 would include street vendors on Brownsville Road from 9 a.m. until (the crowd dictates when it breaks up). This is being done instead of having a parade that has been held in conjunction with Community Day activities at Transverse Field.

Council requested a list of the 30 street vendors lined up by Woods. The chamber president said a small fee will be charged to vendors who do not have a business located in the borough.

Also during the meeting, Omer announced the latest news on the proposed public works building. The engineer estimates the cost to be around $250,000, up from her original estimate of $195,000 announced at the April council meeting.

The $40,000 grant for the building is being used to purchase garage doors and architectural fees.

Omer said her initial estimate of the building cost has increased because soil tests found the ground to be unstable on the 100-by-24 foot plot of land next to the borough building. The engineer revealed the lot has quite a bit of landfill.

“It amazed me what was found down there in a single lot,” said Omer, noting the foundation will need to be 15 to 20 feet below ground level.

“We have to go deeper [than usual] if we want the building to stay up,” Omer said.

Council member Jim Cassidy, who voted against the proposal for a new building, voiced his displeasure over the revised $250,000 estimate.

“We could have spent that much on an existing building [also proposed at the council meeting in April] and had a lot more space [for the public works vehicles],” Cassidy said.

“I don't disagree, but now we are in motion, and the key word here is motion,” said Omer reminding council they spent a long time before coming to a decision on the public works building.

The $40,000 grant the borough obtained specifically for this project last year was going to expire June 30 if council had not authorized Omer to use the grant for this purpose.

Omer said that through the efforts of the borough consultant, she is confident more grant money will be obtained for the public works building to reduce the cost to the borough.


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