South Pittsburgh Reporter - Serving South Pittsburgh Since 1939

By Al Lowe
Contributing Writer 

Public safety focus of Mount public forum


"Knock and talk."

That is one way Christine Luffey tries to resolve neighbor conflicts or strives to deal with residents who are frequently the subjects of complaints for violating the law, such as parking on the sidewalk.

She is the crime prevention police officer for Zone 3 and was a guest speaker at a March 15 monthly community forum meeting held by the Mount Washington Community Development Corporation.

"Under the state law you can't park on the sidewalks…We police officers live in the city too. Of course, we know the streets are narrow…If we are dispatched, we can't single anyone out. We have to tag them all," Officer Luffey said.

Officer Luffey can be reached at the Zone 3 station at 412-488-8425 regarding mediating or resolving local problems.

 "The job of police officers is to keep Zone 3 residents safe," she said.

"Block watches are effective. They're very easy to start and they're not a lot of work…You can identify who belongs to the community and who doesn't. It is a good way to get to know your neighbors. It involves a simple commitment among people to look out for each other," she said.

"In Carrick you can really see the results. It is a good thing. It is a win-win situation."

Someone mentioned the recurring problem of abandoned vehicles.

"A few years ago I was known as the ‘Tow Queen' of Zone 3," she said.

"Frequently, the owners of the vehicles don't have insurance if they were to hit you."

Officer Larry Skingert handles reports of abandoned vehicles and does a very good job, she said, adding residents should look for expired inspection stickers on the vehicles.

"I once found an abandoned car with a ‘04 inspection sticker. That's ridiculous."

Residents should call the mayor's service center at 3-1-1 about "quality of life" issues, such as potholes, trees that seem likely to fall or unpaved streets. They should call 9-1-1 regarding emergencies.

The Zone 3 crime statistics for Mount Washington involve a lot of reports regarding missing property such as burglaries and thefts from vehicles, MWCDC Executive Director Chris Beichner said. "Is there anything that the community can do?"

Thieves are taking wallets, GPS systems, laptops, Officer Luffey said. "You should hide these in a trunk or under a blanket. If you leave valuables in a vehicle this is an invitation that says, ‘Take me!'"

A resident said she knew a group of youths that regularly steal from vehicles. "I am ready to go break their legs."

"What the family needs is intervention," Officer Luffey said, telling the resident she would meet with her later about it and plan further action.

Crime prevention is one of the six priorities of the MWCDC and is important for all of our programs," Mr. Beichner said.

Forms regarding crime reports, graffiti sightings and info regarding nuisance bars can be found and unloaded from the MWCDC web site.

He heard a resident's complaint, which had been made by her at past meetings, that South Side and its many bars receive most of the Zone 3 police attention. Mr. Beichner's indicated an area would become the focus of more police response if more 9-1-1 calls are made. He said Manchester residents made more calls and saw more police and more arrests.

Mount Washington will become involved in the U.S. Postal Service Graffiti Removal Program. Interested residents should identify a postal box with graffiti, write down the address or intersection location and call 412-359-7829 to report it to the U.S. Postal Service Consumer Affairs.

Postal officials assured Mr. Beichner the program has been successful in other neighborhoods and the graffiti is usually removed within two weeks.

Neighborhood "mystery painters," who paint over the graffiti on the boxes to beautify their community, are discouraged, Mr. Beichner said, because painting on a box is a federal crime.

Jack Dougherty, who works for the Mayor's Office as a civic engagement associate, asked for volunteers for the city's quarterly clean-ups.

A Spring Redd Up is scheduled from 9 a.m. to noon April 21, with volunteers meeting at the MWCDC offices. To register, call Kathryn Hunninen, MWCDC community sustainability coordinator, at 412 481-3220, ext. 200.

Justin Cipriani, who hopes to build 15 single family homes in a wooded area near Grandview Park, gave another update on his project.

There are three less homes planned and those that will be built will have bigger porches. Engineers are designing a system that will pull water back into the earth and provide less stress on the city's storm system.

The backs of the homes, a back drop to the park, will "be an understated landscape," he said. Homes will now have two-car garages and, as originally planned will be constructed from organic and recycled materials. There will probably be no construction until next spring but he wants to apply for building permits this fall.

Gateway Engineers, which provides municipal engineering services for many communities – such as Mount Oliver, Upper St. Clair, Brentwood and Dormont, is helping Mr. Cipriani with his plans.

In other business, Mr. Beichner said the MWCDC is trying to communicate better by heeding advice from a consultant. It is trying for a new identity and new image by such changes as using a new logo. The February-March 2012 issue of the newsletter may be the last that relies solely on mail to reach residents.

The organization will be seeking to identify residents who want paper copies and those who want the on-line versions of the newsletter.

This will allow the MWCDC to save money and notify those interested about the organization's news in a quicker manner, Mr. Beichner said.

Upcoming events include: an Emerald View Trail Work Day, from 9 a.m. to noon March 31, with a meeting at the Point of View entrance of the park; a trail construction fundraising dinner at the Shiloh Grill at 7 p.m. March 28 at a cost of $63 a ticket (Limited seating is available, contact Shiloh Grill at 412-431-4000 in advance.); a tree pruning workshop 1 to 4 p.m. April 1 with registration at


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