South Pittsburgh Reporter - Serving South Pittsburgh Since 1939

By Margaret Smyka
Contributing Writer 

Borough council now operating under a new ‘code of conduct'


February 28, 2012

The price tag to upgrade all the street light fixtures along Browsville Road in Mount Oliver to use new brighter energy efficient will top $100,000. Borough officials are mulling over the options including only doing a portion of the street at a time.

Mount Oliver council President Billie Michener began the Feb. 20 monthly meeting by announcing a "code of conduct" for borough councilmembers and employees based on Robert's Rules of Order.

"We will do it by the book," she said.

Other topics included a March 2 recreation committee meeting to share ideas for sports in the borough, and an additional council meeting every fourth Wednesday to discuss two issues an evening.

The rules of order include speaking one at a time; only speaking when called upon; directing all comments to the chair; and no side conversations. Anyone who does not follow the rules will be removed from meetings, she said.

The vote to adopt the code of conduct was 6-0, with Councilwoman Christine Brendel absent.

In his report, Mayor James Cassidy said there were no calls on his hotline.

The police received 708 calls in January. There were six narcotics arrests. The homicide on Amanda Ave. was investigated by borough officers and county detectives, with a suspect arrested within 24 hours.

Interviews will be held to hire a part-time police officer.

In his report, the engineer stated the lights originally specified for the decorative street lighting are dimmer than what council wanted. The only option is conversion kits which make the bulbs brighter.

The cost to do the entire street using conversion kits is $109,000.

In other engineering news, work to correct sewer defects will occur throughout the borough beginning March 1, with completion in August. Contractors will do the work while Gateway Engineers performs the inspections.

Contractors must alert residents 48 hours in advance of the work.

Mrs. Michener said she wants to know where the contractors will be on March 1 so she can contact residents to check if the work is going well.

In the public safety report, Councilman Darnell Sains said Mr. Cassidy was recently certified as a fire

safety officer.

The fire department will participate in a fundraiser at Rock Bottom at the Waterfront at 7 p.m. on March 14 to raise money for fallen firefighters.

In the police report, there were no DUI arrests, 18 park-and-walks, and one building search in January. Of the 14 nuisance properties currently under investigation in the borough, five are Section 8.

Police vehicles logged 5,714 miles, with repairs totaling $743.64 for the month.

Mr. Sains said he and Councilman Corey McGough are attending the Local Government Academy (LGA), and are heeding its advice to try to attract more volunteers for borough activities. The borough should also have a municipal plan, according to the LGA.

Regarding the South Hills Area Council of Governments (SHACOG), Mr. Sains reported executive director Lou Gorski said to be proactive on sewers.

He also said when spending more than $1,000, it is best to look into SHACOG's group purchasing agreements.

Mr. Oliver will host its first SHACOG meeting ever on June 21 at a site to be determined.

In the public works report, Mr. McGough said it was "a relatively slow year for public works because of the weather, which is a good thing for the borough." There was only one complaint on snow and ice removal.

To a resident's inquiry if the speed limit on Church Ave. can be lowered from 25 to 15 miles per hour, Mr. McGough said it cannot. Mr. Sains added 15 mph is not a legally enforceable speed limit unless in a school zone.

On the topic of contractors' work within the borough, Mr. McGough said work done by utility companies is checked out by street commissioner Ron Smith when the job is completed.

The borough code states 24-hour notice is required from utility companies to Mr. Smith when any work is being performed.

Mrs. Michener said if the street commissioner can't be there to inspect, Mr. McGough will be informed so someone will be there.

An attendee remarked that a lot of residents don't know when permits are required. Mrs. Michener said the information would be placed on the borough website.

Mr. McGough said he will present an estimate next month to buy Mr. Smith a BlackBerry smart phone because he doesn't have a computer with email. Mrs. Michener wants all communications to go through email so there is documentation.

Regarding maintenance and street problems, Mr. McGough said there is an issue with uncollected garbage on the side of the road.

Mrs. Michener said she has seen the Ormsby sidewalk filled with accumulated garbage. She called Waste Management twice about the problem, but no one returned her calls.

At the start of their contract, Waste Management said they would not pick up garbage from those who do not pay their bills.

However, as it became a health hazard, they agreed to pick up garbage from non-payers, and deal with the borough later. But that is not happening, said Mrs. Michener.

Councilman George Farneth said Waste Management has not returned his calls either.

The hauler told him as of the last quarter of 2011, 96 percent of residents were paying their bills, but that appears to be incorrect. The councilman wants an updated schedule of those who pay and those who do not pay.

Mr. Farneth said Waste Management should be contacted for a meeting as soon as possible on the matter. Residents should provide the borough with addresses where garbage is not picked up, he said.

Mr. McGough thanked officers Matt Juzwick and Laura Murray for coming to his aid when he was bitten by a pit bull recently.

In the planning commission report, Deana Wuenschel said she is still working on the borough's comprehensive plan. She said the borough engineer told her once it could be done in-house, but she has not heard anything about it since.

Mrs. Michener said she would have the engineer call her.

In the recreation report, Mr. Sains said he and the committee are looking at ideas for starting a football program.

"We need help and volunteers," he said.

The next meeting will be at 6 p.m. on March 2 in the municipal building. Anyone with ideas for recreation, or who wants to volunteer, should come.

"We don't want to leave any kid out.

"Mount Oliver is a product of what happens when a kid has idle time," said Mr. Sains.

In past years, the athletic field was allocated to others. While there was no contract, the groups asked for the same days every year. No fee was charged.

The only time reserved for Mount Oliver was Community Days. This year, it will be different.

"We come first," said Mr. Sains. A fee may also be charged to outside organizations, such as for making repairs to the field house.

Mrs. Michener said a sports activity is needed for the spring. The borough will pay postage for mailings about the activity.

Mr. Sains said grants applied for will not be solely for Mount Oliver, but rather will be for the Hilltop.

In the public comment period, an Occupy Pittsburgh participant -- and new borough resident -- said he was interested in volunteering in the borough, such as picking up trash or improving property.

Mr. Farneth said the group destroyed the downtown park they inhabited. He asked the resident if there are plans to beautify park.

The resident said while the destruction was some occupiers' way of protesting, others like him want to repair the damage.

Mr. Farneth said the borough police are overwhelmed at this point, and he does not want to add to their workload. Otherwise, the borough welcomes volunteers.

The next council meeting will be on March 19.


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