South Pittsburgh Reporter - Serving South Pittsburgh Since 1939

By Austin Vaught
Contributing Writer 

MWCDC monthly forum provides public safety update of the Mount

 


A neighborhood crime update, an innovative solution to the city’s vacant lots, and an overview of the area’s Big Brothers Big Sisters program were the highlights of this month’s Mount Washington Community Development Corporation (MWCDC) community forum.

Zone 3 police commander Karen Dixon and Zone 3 officer Christine Luffey opened the meeting with an overview of last month’s criminal incidents in Mount Washington and Duquesne Heights.

A handout was provided to residents listing more than 65 criminal incidents that occurred in the last 30 days. Among them were two aggravated assaults, two robberies, one stolen vehicle, three drug arrests, 19 thefts, and 13 reports of criminal mischief.

According to Officer Luffey, the criminal mischief cases occurred on Kambach Street, where several residents reported their vehicles had been ‘keyed’ and damaged. Police are currently investigating this incident.

Officer Luffey also provided additional details on a few specific cases.

“I feel that knowledge is power,” Officer Luffey said. “I feel that it’s in everybody’s best interest to know what’s going on in your community. I wanted to tell you about some of the things we’re experiencing in Mount Washington and Duquesne Heights.”

On July 12 at 5:15 p.m., officers were called to Cuthbert Street where they charged two suspects with criminal trespassing and possession of a controlled substance after a resident reported them on her property. When officers arrived, they found heroin stamp bags, needles, elastic bands, and several spoons.

Police also recovered a stolen vehicle on July 10 at 3:21 p.m. when they received information that the vehicle was in the CoGo’s parking lot on Bailey Avenue. Police arrested the suspect at the scene.

On July 16 at 4:50 p.m. a suspect was arrested and charged with possession of a controlled substance near the Shop ‘n Save on Virginia Avenue. Police approached the individuals after they were observed having a difficult time walking.

Commander Dixon then addressed a series of recent vehicle break-ins and said the incidents are currently under investigation. She noted there hasn’t been any additional activity in the last three days.

“We applaud you for your recent reporting of the break-ins of vehicles,” Commander Dixon said. “Keep reporting so I know when stuff happens, and I can start directing resources that way.”

Following the crime report, Gavin White, a project coordinator at GTECH Strategies, presented a new website to help residents discover, learn about, and acquire vacant lots in Pittsburgh.

The website, http://www.lotstolove.org, was created to help transition more vacant lots into green space by encouraging residents to acquire properties through the city or private owners.

“We focused the Lots to Love website on public space because that space is what’s accessible to residents of the city for a minimal charge,” Mr. White said. “It’s a bit of a process though.”

Residents can log on to the website and search for both private and city-owned vacant lots. The website displays parcel information and whether a lot is being used for a green space project.

“What it shows you is parcel information and paths by which you can access it,” Mr. White said. “Whether you want a food garden, a rain garden, or just a space to have a few friends over and hangout.”

Next to speak was Tom Baker, chief community affairs officer at Big Brothers Big Sisters of Greater Pittsburgh. He gave a brief overview of the program and the work that’s been done throughout South Pittsburgh neighborhoods.

The Big Brothers Big Sisters program, which provides one-on-one mentoring for kids in the south Pittsburgh neighborhoods, has tripled the number of children served in Allentown and Mount Washington over the last year.

According to Mr. Baker, volunteers commit to one year with the program and spend three to four hours every other week with their “Little Brother” or “Little Sister.” Volunteers receive free YMCA passes, as well as tickets to sporting events and theater performances.

At the end of the meeting, MWCDC board member Mike Grande provided a short update on the organization’s current plans and how things have progressed since the May meeting.

According to Mr. Grande, the MWCDC is currently working with a consultant on strategic planning. The board will meet again in August; and afterwards, will begin reaching out to organizations such as Economic Development South, Southwest Pittsburgh CDC, and the Hilltop Alliance to explore possible partnerships.

The next MWCDC community forum will be on August 21 at the Mount Washington Senior Center on Virginia Avenue. For more information on the MWCDC, visit http://www.mwcdc.org.

 

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