South Pittsburgh Reporter - Serving South Pittsburgh Since 1939

By David Assad
Contributing Writer 

Knoxville denizens concerned South Side is getting all the attention from police


The residents of Knoxville, just like their neighbors in the South Side, have problems that need attention from City Hall.

However, unlike the special meeting at the Market House on February 28, only one official from the city showed up at the 30th Ward Knoxville Block Watch meeting at St. Sava Church on Knox Ave. because of the scheduling conflict.

Unlike the special South Side meeting that night which attracted almost 200 frustrated residents, less than 20 people showed up for the Knoxville meeting.

The only public official who showed up at the 30th Ward gathering was Bill Jones, an administrative assistant to councilmen Jeff Koch.

Block Watch President Lucy Frankwitt invited Mr. Koch to attend the meeting, but he was not able to be in Knoxville for obvious reasons. Mayor Luke Ravenstahl and the new Zone 3 police commander, Larry Ross, were also invited to the Knoxville meeting, but were in the South Side that night.

“Mr. Koch's office was the only one to call ahead of time to let me know about the big meeting in South Side,” said Mrs. Frankwitt, noting that if she had been given proper notification about the meeting on the South Side on the same night, she would have rescheduled her meeting.

“With the low turnout that we had, I'm almost glad the mayor didn't show up,” she said. “We have people who complain a lot, but they never show up at the Block Watch meetings. What can you do?”

Despite the lack of attention from City Hall, the Knoxville residents voiced their individual complaints to Mr. Jones who jotted down a few notes to take back to Mr. Koch in hopes of getting some attention for their problems.

The Knoxville residents feel they have not been getting much of a positive response from city officials in helping curb the proliferation of Section 8 housing in the neighborhood.

Many of the rental tenants have little regard for the neighborhood, according to the long-time residents who are mostly home owners. One man, who runs a business at the corner of Knox Ave. and Brownsville Road, said he reported to police about a large item being stolen from thefront of his property on a Saturday afternoon last August. He said that despite providing the police with detailed information about who possibly stole his property, the police have done nothing to follow-up on the crime tip.

He said the police told him just to go through his insurance company to reclaim the property loss. The crime victim said he was not as interested in recouping the financial loss as he was in the principle of the situation. He thinks that criminals are becoming more blatant because they feel there will be no consequences for their illegal acts.

The residents at the meeting all said they feel frustrated over the passive responses by the city to their plight as it grows worse and worse. It was a consensus among the residents that the perpetrators are becoming more brazen in their acts of vandalism, disorderly conduct and theft knowing they will suffer little, if any, consequences from law enforcement.

Even if the mayor, the police commander and other officials show up for Block Watch meetings, many Knoxville residents have expressed little faith for any long-term improvement in their neighborhood.

Mrs. Frankwitt said City officials have promised drastic changes in recent years and not much good has resulted from those meetings. When Tom Murphy was mayor, he attended the block watch meeting in August, 2003, promising to aggressively tackle the problem of bad tenants in the neighborhood.

On a lighter note, Mrs. Frankwitt announced plans by the Block Watch to have a 25th anniversary dinner and dance on Saturday, April 21 at the Bradley House in Baldwin starting at 6:30 p.m. Those wishing to attend may contact her or Joan White.


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