South Pittsburgh Reporter - Serving South Pittsburgh Since 1939

By Margaret Smyka
Contributing Writer 

Borough surveillance cameras should be up and running soon


February 26, 2008

The February 18 meeting of Mount Oliver Council covered a range of issues, from vacant houses to new murals to counting mailboxes to a public official's alleged harassment.

It began with the report from Mayor Jeff Repasky that the camera system, to be funded from a state grant, is expected to be operational by March. The system will provide surveillance at the five-point intersection at Brownsville Rd., Hays Ave., Amanda Ave., Bausman St., and Sherman St.

Next, council President James Cassidy said he was anxious to dispel the rumor that the borough was paying for two new part-time police officers to attend the police academy.

"We're not paying police officers to go to the police academy," he said.

In the recreation report, councilman John Smith said a meeting about field permits to use Transverse Field will be held on March 8 at 10 a.m. in the borough building.

In other announcements, the Mount Oliver Recreation Association and the Hilltop Family Care Connection will sponsor an Easter Party on March 15 from 10 a.m. to noon. The event for children ages 10 and under will be held at the Hilltop Family Care Connection, 1630 Arlington Ave.

All children must be accompanied by an adult and must register by calling 412-432-1635.

Also, at the Hilltop Family Care Connection, Children's Hospital of Pittsburgh will hold an open house on March 5 from 3 p.m. to 5:30 p.m. to learn about services for families, like holiday parties, literacy events, parenting classes, home visiting, and more.

Council next voted 6 to 0 to buy a digital camera to photograph sewer issues or problems to document. Councilman Dennis Obeldobel was absent.

The borough will save money by emailing the photos to the engineer instead of having the engineer visit the site.

Councilman James Caylor also said he will be sending a letter to Brentwood Borough about its street sweeping machine. Mount Oliver would like to rent or share usage, at some cost, with a neighboring borough.

In other business, Mr. Cassidy said the borough would be counting mailboxes to verify the refuse hauler's numbers. The borough is charged by unit count for its refuse collection.

Any property owner with four or more units should be paying for a commercial hauler. It can be the borough's hauler, but they must have their own contract.

To an attendee's question of whether the borough has completed repainting yellow lines, Mr. Repasky said no. For public safety, the police are enforcing the new yellow lines on Brownsville Rd. and side streets.

If yellow lines are extended, he said, he receives complaints about taking away parking spaces.

The attendee suggested rethinking some lines, as she feels it would be safer to have parking on the other side of her street.

Next, a resident asked for council's help in dealing with alleged harassment by a public official. The official, she said, has filed numerous complaints against her family, resulting most recently in police citations for an expired registration and flat tire.

The registration was not expired, and the flat tire had just occurred.

A canine officer was also sent to her house to cite her for not having a license for her five-month-old dog.

Her problem was not with the police who,

she said, "have been more than nice to me." The police must respond to all complaints, said the mayor.

She has filed her own complaints with the magistrate against the official who, she said, also harasses neighborhood children.

Council's advice was to file a harassment complaint and ask if it could be transferred outside the area; circulate a petition among neighbors; and gather all paperwork.

In the Hilltop Economic Development Corp. update, Billie Michener said she and Maria DeSimone-Prascak, who designs and paints murals for "Maria's Ideas," hope to install murals at 135—139 Brownsville Rd. by March 3. Funding for this Phase II of the murals project is by the Mount Oliver Chamber of Commerce.

The project involves putting artwork in the windows of empty buildings in the 100 block of Brownsville Rd. The goal is to improve the appearance of the Brownsville Rd. corridor while helping owners attract renters.

During Phase I, nine murals were installed.

She also announced a pilot program to put planters at the four corners of Brownsville Rd. by the gas station, artist's studio, and bank, and possibly at the clock tower corner.

Funding must be secured as there will be no cost to businesses.

The next economic development meeting will be on Feb. 28 at 6 p.m. in the Elder-ado senior center on Brownsville Rd. Everyone is welcome.

For the spring "clean sweep" program, in which volunteers remove litter from targeted borough streets, flyers will be distributed to residents on those streets soliciting their involvement.

She concluded her report by saying residents should call the mayor's hotline at 412-381-5658, or email, for complaints.

To an attendee's question about vacant houses in the borough, attendee Rick Sikora, a realtor and borough resident, said he is looking for investment groups to start rehabilitating condemned and vacant properties, and for new construction. He is working with fire chief Tom Plietz, who chairs the development corporation.

Mr. Plietz said there are 80 to 90 vacant properties in the borough. The ultimate goal is to get the houses occupied and back on the tax rolls.

In the engineer's report, Ruthann Omer, of Gateway Engineers, reported the borough's application for a $1.3 million loan from PennVest, the Pa. Infrastructure Investment Authority, for mandated sanitary sewer work, was turned down.

It will be re-submitted, and Ms. Omer is optimistic it will be approved. If not, funding will be sought elsewhere.

She also announced that, as a cost savings measure, she will no longer attend borough meetings. Instead, Gateway associate and assistant borough engineer Justin Wagner will be her replacement. There will be no engineer at agenda meetings.

Ms. Omer has attended borough meetings for the past 26 years.

Finally, the borough hopes to pay the city to resurface Stamm Ave., Locust St., Sherman St., and Moye Place when the weather breaks in May.

The city Law Department is working on such an agreement which city council must approve.

The next borough meeting will be on March 17.


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