South Pittsburgh Reporter - Serving South Pittsburgh Since 1939

By Margaret L. Smykla
Contributing Writer 

Boro officials concerned with route school buses take to Arlington K-8


Last updated 9/26/2016 at 5:14pm

Concerns about the dangers created by school buses on Otillia St. transporting students to and from Arlington PreK-8 School were discussed at the Sept. 19 meeting of Mt. Oliver Borough Council.

The school is the renovated, former Phillip Murray School, which reopened this year as Arlington PreK-8.

Councilwoman Barbara Keener said Otillia is the only road in and out of the facility, and it is too narrow for buses.

She said bus drivers have to drive partially on sidewalks, which makes it especially hazardous for walkers. The timeframe when this occurs is 8 to 9 a.m., and 3 to 4 p.m. on weekdays.

Mrs. Keener said arrival and departure times are now being staggered, so the situation is better than when school started, but is still dangerous.

“It’s unsafe,” police Chief Matthew Juzwick said.

He said buses traveling in both directions are hitting trees and branches. Students are even jumping on the back of busses and riding down the street.

“The school district needs to fix this problem,” he said, adding children should not be walking on the road.

Mrs. Keener said she calls district officials as often as she can about the matter. But if it is not resolved by October, she will attend the school board meeting and raise the issue publicly.

In the meantime, she is continuing to take photographs of the traffic problems which she will take to the district superintendent.

The meeting began with the police report for August. Mayor James Cassidy said there were 603 total calls and 51 drug-related arrests, the latter for the seizure of marijuana, crack cocaine, heroin, and drug paraphernalia.

There were also 30 domestic calls, 14 more for criminal mischief, and three burglaries.

The police department served nine arrest warrants, and arrested two males with illegal firearms. The police assisted state constables in a local “warrant sweep” to apprehend wanted fugitives in the area.

All department computers are up and running. All surveillance cameras are working properly.

In the engineer’s report, council approved a proposal from Pavement Technologies for $2,760 to place rejuvenator on the streets that were paved last year. The scheduled roads are Koehler and Carl streets. The vote was 6-0, with Councilman Justin Viale absent.

Council also approved, 6-0, the final payment to Osiris Enterprises for $87,972.80 for Brownsville Rd. sewer excavation repairs completed up to Sept. 2, contingent upon receipt of the maintenance bond.

Council also voted 6-0 to approve payment to Palombo Contracting for $64,648.97 for work completed through Sept. 1 on the Brownsville Rd. sidewalk replacement project.

In the fire report, there were 53 calls in August: 38 were EMS, and 15 were for fires. New sets of turnout gear – coats and pants only – have arrived.

In the code enforcement report from inspector Chuck Knaus for August, Councilman David Beltz reported there were 110 violation/notices, 34 rental licenses (71 units), 14 complaints, 30 citations, 20 legal filings, 6 occupancies, and one building permit issued.

In the public works report, Councilman Dave Lowe gave this update of public works activities in August: continued weekly street detail; continued maintenance of blighted properties; finished repainting lines; began crack-sealing program; and continued cutting grass in parks. Summer helps’ last day was Labor Day.

In his Brownsville Rd. utility project update, two services are left to complete in the 300-500 blocks, but require a basement wall to be built. Fachiano will begin the basement work this week and, when completed, Banks will complete the two services.

The goal is to complete the work on Brownsville Rd. by the end of September so restoration work can begin in October.

Regarding the street’s sidewalk project, the western side is complete, with the contractor now working on the eastern side.

With the paving program, council approved a 30-day contract extension; the new deadline is Sept. 30.

El Grande was supposed to start the sewer work and handicap ramps on Sept. 6; Gateway Engineers informed them they will be charged liquidated damages if not finished by Sept. 30. El Grande planned to start working on Sept. 20.

Attendee former councilman Frank Bernardini said the Brownsville Rd. work has been going on since last November, and taxpayers are fed up with it.

“It just keeps getting another delay and extension.

“Anywhere else in the city it would have been done,” he said.

 “We want this done as much as anyone else,” council President Amber McGough said. She added that everyone is working toward that end – the borough manager, engineer, public works, and others.

Borough manager Rick Hopkinson offered this update on the Brownsville Rd. project: all water and gas work has been completed in the 100-200 blocks, and significantly completed in the 300-500 blocks. Colosimo is expected to begin permanent restoration of the trench lines in the beginning of October. Paving is expected to occur by the end of October/beginning of November.

Sidewalk work in the 100-200 blocks of Brownsville is also underway. The western side is complete, and the contractor is now working on the eastern side. This side will take a little longer because the contractor is removing a bumpout across from Goldbach, and adjusting the curb line to provide for four additional parking spaces. All sidewalk work on Brownsville is expected to be completed by the middle/end of October.

In resolutions and ordinances, council voted 6-0 to enter into an intergovernmental cooperation agreement with the City of Pittsburgh for emergency management services. The contract is for three years.

To an attendee’s question if this will have any effect on the annual rate of $25, Mr. Hopkinson said it will most likely rise to $35 to $40 in 2017. He also said the borough has a lot of delinquents the city is getting stuck with.

In public hearings, Mr. Bernardini said his right-to-know request was responded to on how many times civil service attorney David Mitchell has been contacted by the borough regarding legal advice. He said there were 183 calls, resulting in a $24,113 cost to the borough over the past three years.

To his question of who authorized the calls, Mrs. McGough said they were made by the solicitor or manager as needed.

To a question to solicitor Deron Gabriel on why he cannot ask a colleague in his firm for legal advice, Mr. Gabriel said the decision was made by council that Mr. Mitchell has the labor and personnel expertise they wanted.

“Taxpayer money is being wasted,” Mr. Bernardini said.

Mr. Hopkinson said a pension audit required his, Mr. Gabriel’s, and Mr. Mitchell’s input. He also calls Mr. Mitchell with labor issues.

Regarding the calls, he later said there were not 183 calls but 183 billable items, including communications, legal services, preparation of documents, and more.

Mrs. McGough said council can discuss in the future if they want to continue with Mr. Mitchell or change.

Councilwoman Tina Reft said since she has been on council in January she has been aware of when Mr. Mitchell was called – and there were always reasons for those calls.

In upcoming events, Fall Fest will be held from noon to 7 p.m. on Oct. 1 at Transverse Park. All raised funds will benefit the fire department.

A new business opened in the borough: Happiness is Homemade, 208 Brownsville Rd., and sells cookies, doughnuts, pastries, and cakes.

Before adjourning, Mrs. McGough said her car was broken into recently while in the driveway of her home on Church Ave. She wanted to remind residents to keep their car doors locked.

 The next council meeting will be on Oct. 17.


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