South Pittsburgh Reporter - Serving South Pittsburgh Since 1939

By Margaret L. Smykla
Contributing Writer 

Mt. O. Boro making changes to office, residential policies


In the mayor’s report which began the Sept. 21 meeting of Mt. Oliver council, Mayor James Cassidy said there are no major issues for the police department.

Council member Billie Michener was absent.

In the public safety report, Mr. Cassidy reported there were 562 total police calls in August.

The k-9 unit was used 16 times. There were five burglaries, and four DUI arrests. Of the 50 drug-related arrests, many were at traffic stops.

Police responded to 12 residential alarms, and five false commercial alarms. All equipment is up and running. The officer training is up to date.

In the engineer’s report read by council President Darnell Sains, both R&B Contracting and Palombo Landscaping were granted a time extension for work at Ormsby Park, Phase II. Palombo was expected to have benches and pavilions installed by Sept. 11.

R&B has the paving, fencing, additional wall behind the bench and some punch items to complete.

Councilman Frank Bernardini said park vandals will be prosecuted, especially in light of all the money the borough spent on the park.

“We are going to run the borough, not the ones going up there and ruining the place,” he said.

Security cameras were scheduled to be installed in the park this week to video vandalism at it occurs and, therefore, the vandals.

In the administration and finance report, Amber McGough said there is a concern about residents and council members being in the administrative offices.

Mr. Sains said only the borough manager, building inspector, and two secretaries should be there. Otherwise, work is interrupted.

He said from now on the door will be locked for most of the day, with permission of office personnel required to enter. The police will have also have a key to enter.

It cannot be used as a “hang-out place,” Mr. Sains said. “Gone is the time when that is a thoroughfare.”

In the code enforcement report from inspector Chuck Knaus for Aug. 7 thru Sept. 3, Mr. Bernardini reported there were 19 complaints; 35 rental inspections (59 units); 19 violation/notices; 38 citations; 11 legal filings; seven occupancies; and one building permit.

“He’s doing the job of two people,” Mr. Bernardini said of Mr. Knaus.

He also said if anyone has problems with any borough employee, they should come to a meeting and speak with council. He resents postings on Facebook and other social media that council is lying or stealing.

Council is very open, he said, and no member is involved for monetary gain.

Councilman Nick Viglione said he does not think any council puts in the time the present council does.

Mr. Bernardini also said he and Mr. Knaus discussed the nuisance property ordinance, and see nothing wrong with implementing it.

Mr. Sains and solicitor Deron Gabriel said they want final approval from the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU).

“There are 42 properties in Carrick that will be moved on. The city of Pittsburgh and mayor are not worried about the ACLU,” Mr. Bernardini said.

“I’m tired of being afraid of the ACLU,” Mr. Viglione said.

Mr. Sains said there has not been a lawsuit filed against the borough in a while. The current ordinance is “antiquated,” he said, and he wants to make sure the new version does not infringe on people’s civil liberties.

Borough manager Ricky Hopkinson said he wants to present the new version to the ACLU for their okay. He will then have a final version within two months.

“We don’t want to get sued,” he said.

“It’s time to get it nailed down,” Mr. Bernardini said.

Mr. Viglione said there are 30-year residents who have renters in their neighborhood who terrorize them.

When the ordinance is adopted, the borough will need a five-member appeals board.

Mr. Bernardini said he wants to invite the ACLU to the borough, where he, along with a few residents, will talk to them.

Next, there was discussion about what to do about property which is not maintained. The borough is currently cutting grass for about 30 homes.

Councilwoman Barbara Keener suggested drafting a letter to property owners informing them a lien will be placed against their property if is not maintained.

Mr. Sains said it must be done in a legal way as sending a threatening letter will have legal ramifications.

Mrs. McGough said if the borough cites residents for high grass, it should do the same with property owners.

Mr. Bernardini said liens can be placed on properties after so many citations, for which Mr. Gabriel agreed.

Mr. Sains said the solicitor should construct a letter so there are no legal problems.

In the parks and recreation report, Mr. Viglione said a resident who was instrumental in planting and tending the borough’s community garden confiscated youngsters’ bikes recently after witnessing them vandalizing the garden.

Mr. Sains said residents do not have the liberty or authority to take matters into their own hands. Police Chief Matthew Juzwick said even the police cannot take bikes.

Mr. Viglione said the resident was frustrated. She would like more of a police presence at the garden, he said.

In the public works report, Mr. Sains said salt was a big issue at the COG meeting attended by himself and Mr. Bernardini.

Last year’s salt cost was $79 per ton. This year, it is expected to be $61 per ton, although that could rise, he said.

In resolutions and ordinances, council voted to spend $62,500 as the borough’s share for the city to resurface the borough’s side of Brownsville Rd.

Council also voted to pay Palombo Landscaping $25,579.83 for work at Ormsby Park, and $26,485 to Allegheny City Electric for phase II of the decorative street lighting.

In the question-and-answer session, an attendee said a check cashing business on Brownsville Rd. has become a hang-out for kids on the sidewalk in front of it.

Mr. Sains said with the local Carnegie Library closed for renovations there is less for youngsters to do.

Mr. Cassidy said the police can move them along, but they return once the officers leave.

Mr. Bernardini and Mr. Viglione said to start citing them.

“We cannot let these kids terrorize us,” Mr. Viglione said.

Mr. Bernardini said if the borough hopes to revitalize the business district, it “must act.”

Mr. Cassidy said the business owner should hang “no loitering” signs, and call the police.

Mrs. Keener, Mr. Cassidy, and Chief Juzwick will get together and discuss the use of beat officers in the area.

The resident also complained about the appearance of the second block of Stamm Ave.

“It is unsightly,” he said of the dumpsters without enclosures.

Mr. Hopkinson said he would look into the matter.

The next council meeting will be on Oct. 19.


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