South Pittsburgh Reporter - Serving South Pittsburgh Since 1939

By Margaret Smyka
Contributing Writer 

Boro residents turn to council for help with safety concerns


September 29, 2009

At Mount Oliver council's Sept. 21 meeting, Frederick St. was the focus of residents' ire as it was last month — only this time, the complaints of drug dealing, vandalism, and break-ins included gunshots and death threats.

Residents said they heard shots fired on Frederick St. the day before.

"How much more until something is done?" asked a resident who received a death threat after chasing a group of youths whom he earlier asked not to throw trash in his yard, and then came to the aid of an elderly woman who confronted them.

After he filed a police report, two youths were waiting for him when he got off the bus. He fears retaliation.

"I don't have the money to move out," he said. This is the first time in his life he is genuinely afraid, he said.

Police Chief Frank Mosesso said one of the youths was arrested, and there are police patrols in the area.

Councilman Dennis Obeldobel told him next time to stay in the house and call 911.

Mayor Jeff Repasky said residents wishing to remain anonymous can submit silent complaint forms.

Another Frederick St. resident called it an "intolerable" situation.

"This has to be taken seriously," he said. "Somebody's going to die."

There are two houses causing the problems, he said, and both are rental properties. He wants the landlords' rental licenses revoked.

"The landlords are making money at our expense," said the resident.

Council President James Cassidy said that according to the borough ordinance, three legitimate complaints on a structure in 90 days begins the process to evict. The tenants and landlord then get their day in court, he said.

But it is against the law to revoke a landlord's license, he said.

"We're doing everything legally that we can do," he said.

Residents said they have placed numerous complaint calls about the properties. But the chief said a specific house number must be given when calling for a paper trail to form.

Mr. Perich suggested residents call the county Housing Voucher program, and the county's Youth Services, and ask for an investigation.

"This is a neighborhood that is in terror right now," said another resident.

She said an aggressive program was needed to knock down "abhorrent properties."

"As we get funding, we're taking them down," said Mr. Cassidy.

Code enforcement officer Tom Plietz said there are 104 abandoned houses in the borough.

The resident also said she would like to assist in forming block watches in the borough.

As he has for the past few months, a Stamm Ave. resident complained about a nuisance apartment complex on his street.

"It's not going away," he said.

Tenants throw garbage from windows, set discarded furniture outside an overflowing dumpster, and more. The police have been called there numerous times for various complaints.

After the resident's appearance last month, the owner of the complex was sent a letter asking him to appear before council. The owner attended council's agenda meeting, during which he was told that council will be keeping an eye on the situation.

The owner said he would clean up the trash.

The resident said the main problem is the traffic entering and exiting the building at all hours, and the hollering and loud noise.

Mr. Cassidy said for screaming in the middle of the night to call 911. Such calls produce a paper trail of violations.

The next resident offering public comment owns property, with his brother, on Saint Joseph St. To secure permission from the Zoning Hearing Board for a three-unit family dwelling on the site, they must acquire three parking spaces. Currently there is no parking space on the site.

The resident was hoping the borough would vacate part of Anna Way to let them lease space there.

Mr. Perich said if the street is vacated, others on the street would get the space. His suggestion is to convert the backyard into parking spaces.

Another resident who spoke during the public comment said he wants to create an on-line borough forum, in which residents can plan block watches, trash clean-ups, and more. He will look into doing so.

The meeting began with Mr. Cassidy thanking state Rep. Harry Readshaw, who was in attendance, for his efforts on behalf of the borough.

Councilman John Smith, Sr., was absent.

Council announced that Halloween in the borough will he held on Sat., Oct. 31, from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m.

In her report, borough engineer Ruthann Omer said the economic plan of the Hilltop Economic Development Corp. will be presented to borough council in September or October for approval.

Last month, council voted to award a base bid of $110,000 to transform the basketball court to deck hockey in Transverse Park on the condition that additional funding was found. The borough needed an additional $27,000 for a 25 percent match of a $92,000 grant.

At the Sept. 21 meeting, Ms. Omer said the matching funds will come from the 2010 sanitary sewer account as sewer work will be involved.

In other engineering news, demolitions will be taking place at 128 Ormsby, 1782 Arlington, and 195 Penn. No timetable has been set.

In conclusion, Ms. Omer reminded council of her meeting with them on Oct. 19 at 5:45 p.m. to work on an engineering budget and discuss projects.

In the Mayor's report, Mr. Repasky said he received a call that morning about a problem on Penn Ave. in a red brick building. M-80 explosives were also mentioned.

However, without a name or phone number to contact for more information, Mr. Repasky cannot do much.

He asked that all residents wishing to remain anonymous complete a silent complaint form or else call the mayor's hotline at 412-381-5658.

In the public safety report, Councilman Patrick Malloy said 861 calls were answered last month, and maintenance costs on the seven police vehicles totaled $1,526. Police vehicles logged 7,910 miles.

There were 2 DUI and 12 drug arrests. The canines were used 92 times. Officers conducted 85 park-and-rides in the borough. All the surveillance cameras are up and running.

Mr. Malloy said gunshots were fired near his house on Aug. 18. The incident, which began in the city, drew about 25 city police officers. He said Corporal Williams did a great job making sure the residents were okay, and asked the mayor to inform police Chief Harper how professional his officers were.

Next, Mr. Obeldobel reported that a resident wants help in getting rid of groundhogs. Mr. Cassidy said the borough will lend her a trap, but she must dispose of the rodents herself. If she calls Triangle Pet for assistance, she will have to pay them.

In her report, Mrs. Michener said Waste Management is owed $23,000 in July from 349 delinquent borough accounts. For September, 177 delinquents owe $17,000.

A motion was passed to pay $10,000 to Waste Management for delinquent trash accounts.

Mrs. Michener said delinquents will be sent legal letters informing them they will be taken to the magistrate for non-payment. The fee will be roughly the annual $124.80 trash payment plus borough administrative and magistrate fees.

Next, Mr. Plietz said anyone interested in positive change on the Hilltop should attend an Oct. 1 meeting at 6 p.m. at St. John Vianney Parish center, 832 Climax St. Free childcare and dinner will be provided.

The goal is to bring local residents together to improve the health, safety, and quality of life for the Hilltop communities.

Discussion items include how to keep streets safe, break down barriers, bring in resources for children, and make the neighborhoods better.

The next council meeting will be Oct. 19.


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