By Margaret Smyka
Contributing Writer 

Arlington block watch members updated on safety initiatives


News of upcoming events awaited attendees at the Feb. 24 meeting of the 16th Ward Block Watch in Arlington.

The block watch will host a "Candidates Night" on April 14 beginning at 6:30 p.m. for District 3 council hopefuls. Block watch President Sue Wielock said she will invite the candidates to talk about their ideas for Arlington.

Anyone with questions who does not want to address the guests can write down the question and give it to Ms. Wielock, who will ask the candidates the question.

On March 5, the 13th annual "Biscuits Bingo" fundraiser will be held beginning at noon at Guardian Angels Parish, 1030 Logue Ave., West End. Doors open at 10 a.m. The cost is $20, and winners will receive $80 per game. There will be a $500 jackpot. All proceeds benefit local animal organizations.

The event is sponsored by the Pittsburgh Bureau of Police.

Another event of the police bureau announced at the meeting was the Feb. 25 pasta dinner fundraiser for the Cleland family, whose car was struck on East Carson St. on Dec. 5 by a drunk driver. The block watch donated a $100 Giant Eagle gift card for the event. The fundraising event drew more than 800 people.

The tragedy claimed the lives of the family's seven-year-old daughter and the unborn child of the mother, Nicole Cleland, who remains in a nursing facility.

Another upcoming event is SAFE (Safe Areas for Everyone) Pittsburgh on May 21 at West Penn Hospital from 8:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. Workshops and information on block watches will be offered. There will also be representatives from city agencies such as the Bureau of Building Inspection (BBI) and more.

A free light breakfast and lunch, and free parking, will be available. Mayor Luke Ravenstahl and Chief of Police Harper are slated to speak at the event.

The satellite office of city Councilman Bruce Kraus is celebrating its one-year anniversary on April 12. The office is manned by Donna Wielock and Arlene Trost, and located in the adult probation center at 2320 Arlington Ave. in Arlington.

The duo field complaints, direct residents to the appropriate city agency, track responses, and more. Residents are urged to stop in and discuss concerns — of entire district, not just Arlington — instead of travelling downtown.

Sue Wielock said crime is down in Arlington, which she attributes to the cameras outside the adult probation center which keep the space free of youths and other loiterers.

In other news, rules and regulations governing the city's spay and neuter program can be found on the city's website beginning in March. It is open only to city residents.

In school news, Sue Wielock said there are 510 students in the Arlington public schools, with 62 percent of the students bussed to classes.

Recalling the after-school activities she was involved in as a youngster — many of which are no longer offered — she said more after-school programs are needed. She also suggested there should be more variety of after-school activities than just a basketball program.

In his remarks, Matt Hogue, of the office of Mr. Kraus, suggested attendees contact Gov. Tom Corbett's office or their state representative or senator about the "film tax credit" which the new administration has shown no interest in renewing, he said. The film tax credit keeps movie-making costs down, attracting filmmakers, resulting in the numerous films being made in the area in the past few years, which equates to local jobs.

In other news, Mr. Hogue said public safety issues in the South Side have an impact on Arlington. As an example, he said all the trouble that ensues from the numerous bars on the South Side Flats draw Zone 3 officers to the area on weekends, officers that could otherwise be patrolling the Hilltop.

Paramedics are also receiving numerous weekend calls for East Carson St. for passed out drunks when truly ill people should be receiving their services.

He said BBI could use more inspectors, noting bars often exceed the posted occupancy limits which falls under BBI's jurisdiction.

Mr. Hogue asked attendees to let him know of any dump sites, and he will have it cleaned up, hopefully, by interns. He noted he often goes to sites himself with a weed whacker to clear vacant, over-grown foliage.

"People just don't care about their communities," he said of out-of-control growth in some private lots.

Questioned about the deplorable condition of Warrington Avenue, he said 90 percent of the street is under the jurisdiction of Port Authority Transit (PAT), which is under the county's purview.

To a question about burning on a porch, he said residents are allowed to grill on a porch but nothing else, open burning is not permitted.

Moving on another topic, Mr. Hogue said in Housing Court that day local District Magisterial Judge Gene Ricciardi gave the owner of an Arlington Ave. property until Monday to clean up high weeds or face a $20,000 fine. He commended Mr. Ricciardi for his neighborhood concern and commitment.

To a question about the proposed landlord rental registration legislation, Mr. Hogue said realtors, rental associations, and universities are fighting the law.

Ms. Wielock said she has problems with absentee landlords who live out of state and don't care if their property and/or tenants negatively impact the quality of life in the community.


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