South Pittsburgh Reporter - Serving South Pittsburgh Since 1939

By Margaret L. Smykla
Contributing Writer 

Borough street project continue


A new public works contract, a grant to fully fund police officers’ body cameras, and the hiring of two new part-time police officers topped the Jan. 16 meeting of Mt. Oliver council.

Council members David Beltz, Christina Reft, and David Lowe were absent. Police Chief Matthew Juzwick was also absent.

In the police report for December, there were 477 total calls and 26 drug-related arrests, the latter for the seizure of marijuana, crack cocaine, heroin, and drug paraphernalia.

There were also 27 domestics calls, 12 criminal mischief calls, and three burglaries. The department served four arrest warrants, and arrested one male with an illegal firearm.

All computers are up and running.

In the engineer’s report, council approved the final payment to El Grande Industries for $19,945.59 for work completed to date. The contract including milling and paving on Margaret St., Mary Way, Bertha Way, Louisa Way, Jonas Alley Way, Carmen Way, and Carmen St., and the intersections of Walnut and Koehler streets, and Moye Place.

The total awarded contract was $262,182.50. The final contract came in under budget at $244,659.94.

Council also voted 4-0 to approve final payment to Roto Rooter Service Co. for $19,454.00 for work completed to date. The sanitary sewer operations and maintenance (O&M) excavation repairs contract was awarded through SHACOG, with a borough share of $28,380.00.

In the code enforcement report from inspector Chuck Knaus for December, there were 37 borough citations, 34 rental licenses (79 units), two complaints, one building permit, six violation notices and seven occupancy inspections.

Borough manager Rick Hopkinson said in comparing 2015 statistics to 2016, complaints dropped from 170 in 2015 to 140 in 2016, while citations increased from 290 in 2015 to 329 in 2016.

He said he wants to create a list of top offenders so for each subsequent violation the offender gets the maximum fine.

“Drastic violations have to meet with drastic measures,” attendee former councilman Frank Bernardini said.

He also said contractors come in, and think they can do what they want.

Mr. Bernardini said he recently saw 20-30 garbage bags thrown behind an apartment building on Locust St. They will draw rats and other rodents.

He plans to call the county Health Department about the garbage bags.

Mr. Hopkinson said to alert him when he sees such sites and he will follow up with Mr. Knaus.

In public safety, Councilman Nick Viglione said body cameras are coming for the police department. The cameras were funded in full by District Attorney Zappala’s office. The DA’s office also donated $5,050 toward a new K9 (canine) for the department.

Two part-time police officers were then hired by a 4-0 vote: Dakota Dahler and Valerie Rizzo. It brings the total part-time officers to four; one more is needed.

In public works, Councilman Justin Viale reported Christmas lights were taken down, among other activities. A new slide will be installed in the spring at Transverse Park.

In the Columbia Gas update, the company will be working on two projects this year: the Arlington Ave. project, and the Ottillia St. project.

The Arlington Ave. project to replace the gas main began on Jan. 16, and is expected to end on Oct. 31

The Ottillia St. project to replace the gas main will begin in Summer, 2017, and is expected to end on Nov. 30.

The restoration schedule for both projects is base repair in fall, 2017, and milling/paving in spring, 2018.

The Penn and Saint Joseph project has been pushed back to 2018. Columbia Gas also plans to do Ormsby Ave. in 2018.

Next, Mr. Bernardini said the “yield to pedestrians” signs on the poles at the crosswalks, which he suggested last month, have still not been installed. There is also not a one-way sign at Locust St. and Arlington Ave.

Mr. Hopkinson said the borough received a $745,000 streetscape grant, joint with the city, for the clock tower to Margaret St. As it is good for three years, it will probably start in 2018.

In economic development, he reported the Hilltop Economic Development Corporation (HEDC) board met the prior week, and that it would be reorganizing the makeup of the board in order to hyper-focus on real estate development in 2017 and beyond.

The Board will go from meeting every month to every other month.

The HEDC will appoint a chair to the advisory committee who will serve at-large to the board, attending all board meetings and keeping the board up to date on activities. The HEDC board and advisory committee will come together quarterly to hold larger public meetings to update attendees on the status of projects and initiatives.

Next, council voted to adopt a resolution approving the 2017-2019 public works contract. The vote was 3-0, with President Amber McGough abstaining. The contract covers three employees who will receive hourly raises of fifty cents each year.

Also, full-time employees will now be permitted to live outside of the borough, which expands hiring options for the borough.

In public hearings, Mr. Bernardini asked why civil service attorney David Mitchell has been contacted by the borough for legal advice.

Mrs. McGough said it was for labor and personnel issues.

Mr. Bernardini said the problems are created by two employees, and asked if the matters could be handled internally so as not to waste taxpayers’ money. Solicitor Deron Gabriel said Mr. Mitchell is a specialist.

Mr. Hopkinson said Mr. Mitchell was contacted nine times in October, nine times in November, and seven times in December.

Mrs. McGough asked council if they should run questions through Mr. Gabriel first, to which Mr. Hopkinson responded that he knows when to talk to Mr. Gabriel and when to talk to Mr. Mitchell.

“I only use Dave [Mitchell] if I absolutely have to,” he said. He also said as he continues to learn on the job, he does not have to call Mr. Mitchell as much as before.

Mr. Bernardini next asked about retaining a different engineering firm to replace Gateway Engineering, the borough’s longtime engineer.

Mr. Viglione said he is not happy with the firm.

“I don’t think they have our best interests,” he said.

Mr. Bernardini concluded by saying no one on council is taking the lead, in general, regarding borough issues.

Another resident complained about trash violations on Locust and Stamm streets as trash is put out on Fridays prior to Monday pick-up. By then, the bags have been ripped apart by rodents.

“The people just don’t care,” he said.

Citations are not written as the code enforcement officer is off on weekends, he said.

In other news, ALCOSAN just launched its Clean Water Assistance Fund to help families pay their ALCOSAN sewage bills. Ratepayers who qualify will receive a $30 credit on their bill every three months.

Residents should receive a flyer with their sewage bill in the near future that provides more information and how to sign up.

Borough council has scheduled a special voting meeting on Wednesday, Jan. 25 at 7 p.m. in Council Chambers. The next regularly scheduled council meeting will be on Feb. 20.


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