South Pittsburgh Reporter - Serving South Pittsburgh Since 1939

By Margaret Smyka
Contributing Writer 

Boro to require bonds from utility companies to guarantee repairs

 

November 27, 2007

Johno and Maria Prascak work to place murals in a vacant storefront on Brownsville Road. Maria volunteered to paint the murals to brighten up the storfronts and make them more appealing to potental businesses. The program was started by Councilwoman Billie Michener who hopes to have the artwork in more businesses along the main corridor. The Mount Oliver Chamber of Commerce funded the supplies for the program.

Bonds for utility companies working in the borough, tax scofflaws, and a new dump truck were some of the topics discussed at the Nov. 19 meeting of Mount Oliver Borough Council.

The evening began with resident George Farneth II asking to be appointed to the soon-to-be vacant seat on council.

No decision can be made until Councilman Dennis Obeldobel resigns from either the two-year or four-year term he won in the recent election. Councilman John Wagner lost his bid for reelection.

Mr. Farneth, a 10-year borough resident who ran in the recent election, said he changed his voter registration from Republican to Democrat so he could be appointed.

He said he wants to help the borough, and feels he has a lot to offer.

Mr. Obeldobel said he, too, switched from Republican to Democrat, as have others, and without changing his views.

In his report, Mayor Jeff Repasky said the camera system, to be funded from a state grant, has been ordered.

The system will provide surveillance at the five-point intersection at Brownsville Rd., Hays Ave., Amanda Ave., Bausman St., and Sherman St.

In the finance report, council President James Cassidy said council was working on a budget to pass by year's end.

Mr. Obeldobel asked if it was possible to charge businesses a fee to advertise on Channel 7. Solicitor James Perich said as a public access channel it is for public service, and therefore paid advertising would not be permitted.

In his ordinance report, Mr. Wagner said 66 citations were issued the past month for violations like high grass, setting garbage outside too early, and more.

Council then voted to purchase a one-ton dump truck, with salt spreader, from Baierl Automotive for $4,805. The low amount reflects two truck trade-ins and $29,000 from a state grant through the office of Rep. Harry Readshaw.

The truck is scheduled to be in the borough by Dec. 10.

In the Hilltop Economic Development Corp. update, Betty Michener reported on the committee's putting artwork in the windows of empty buildings in the 100 block of Brownsville Rd.

During Phase I, nine murals were installed in the windows of three businesses. The goal is to improve the appearance of the Brownsville Rd. corridor while helping owners attract renters.

All the murals, which are on wood, were created free of charge by Maria DeSimone-Prascak, who designs and paints murals for her business, "Maria's Ideas."

The only expense is for the materials. The Mount Oliver Chamber of Commerce is helping fund the beautification program.

For Phase II, more windows are needed. Contact Ms. Michener at 412-381-0420.

To a question of whether business owners with plywood over windows have been contacted, she said they would be. "We're working on each individual store as we go," she said.

The committee will also be putting maps together containing the phone numbers and names of borough officials and other information. The pamphlets will be placed in businesses and sent to new homeowners.

Ms. Michener also reported on her first Local Government Academy workshop. Her attendance is funded through March by a $450 scholarship.

"You learn a lot of things from a lot of different boroughs," she said in encouraging all council members to attend.

The LGA classes are held on Saturdays and evenings.

She also suggested that next year's "clean sweep" program, in which volunteers remove litter from borough streets, be coordinated with the city as its paid employees clean adjacent city streets.

In conclusion, she asked council members to consider holding more agenda meetings.

Under public safety, the mayor said they are enforcing the new yellow lines on Brownsville Rd. and side streets.

In the engineer's report, Ruthann Omer reported that dye testing should be done by the end of November.

Regarding the road resurfacing program, Mr. Obeldobel noted that "soft spots," or sunken areas, are a problem. Prior to paving streets, patches must be identified and utility companies contacted. But it seems to fall on the borough to repair.

Reviewing the code book, Mr. Perich read an ordinance stating the Borough may retain $50,000 bonds annually from utility companies. That way, if streets are not restored by utilities following their work, the borough can resurface using the bond money.

Noting the borough never asked for bond before, Mr. Cassidy directed the office staff to send the utility companies letters stating they want the bond.

The companies will get 60 days to close properly to the borough's satisfaction, or the borough will retain the bond.

Ms. Omer said while utility companies' patches are a cause of soft spots, there are others.

Under the solicitor's report, Mr. Perich read a resolution to file an application with PennVest, the Pa. Infrastructure Investment Authority, for a $1.57 million loan for sanitary sewer rehabilitation work. Council voted to adopt the resolution.

The interest rate is about three percent, but there is no guarantee the loan will be granted.

Mr. Perich also said 154 notices were sent to delinquent property taxpayers last week. They have 10 days to contact him, or the matter will be taken to the magistrate.

Ms. Michener asked for a list of names, and how much is owed, to which he agreed.

Ms. Omer said she is interested in sewer delinquents in light of the costly mandated sanity sewer work that lies ahead. She said she would call Jordan Tax Services for a list. Eventually, there should be water shut-offs, she said.

The next council meeting will be on Dec. 17.

 

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