South Pittsburgh Reporter - Serving South Pittsburgh Since 1939

By Margaret L. Smykla
Contributing Writer 

Borough could see additional businesses


Last updated 4/24/2017 at 5:40pm

In the absence of council President Amber McGough and vice-president Nick Viglione, the April 17 meeting of Mt. Oliver council was conducted by Councilman Justin Viale.

In the public hearings which now occur at the start of meetings, Jorg Gerlach discussed his plan to offer custom-crafted items, and freshly made fruit juices, on-site crafted sodas, and espresso drinks, at 107 Penn Ave. to residents from upscale neighborhoods and, hopefully, to national and international visitors to Pittsburgh. The purchase of 313 Brownsville Rd. has also been initiated.

Food trucks in front of the buildings would provide “high quality street food,” or ready-to-eat food.

There would be a ramp for ADA-accessibility into the buildings along with chairs and tables outside.

The idea is that visitors buy the street food before entering the buildings to see the exhibitions and items by craftsmen. Information would also be available on the various other offerings and restaurants on Brownsville Rd.

Mr. Gerlach, who is from Germany, said he would like to open before Christmas.

Councilman David Beltz said while council wants to be pro-business, and loves the idea of a coffeehouse and trendy food trucks, details are needed, such as hours of operation, staffing, garbage pick-up, and more. There are also concerns about noise with neighbors, wiring, parking, and more.

Mr. Gerlach said at closing the chairs and tables will be put inside. Trash cans will be provided.

“Our interest is to make it attractive like a Shadyside setting,” he said.

Councilwoman Barbara Keener said while everyone is in favor of his idea, council needs time to come up with a permit parking policy and food truck policy.

“We want new businesses coming in here,” she said.

The next speaker was Frank Bernardini, who asked if there was a projected date for hiring a part-time public works employee. He was told the application would be available the following week.

He also brought up last month’s meeting during which a resident made several suggestions to council on improving meetings, like adopting a set of rules and regulations; adhering to a dress code; establishing an attendance rule; and more.

Mr. Bernardini said if he thinks it is so easy to be on council, he should run for the “hot zone.” “You get it from every angle,” he said.

He also said, “Some people come in and think they can wipe their feet on anyone – council, police.”

Mrs. Keener said she wants to hear from residents.

She also mentioned that there will be a Mt. Oliver-Knoxville community clean-up on Sat., April 29, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Volunteers should meet at the PetShop collaboration space, 212 Brownsville Rd., at 10 a.m.

To volunteer, register at: .

She said everyone is encouraged to get their neighbors and “clean up their block.”

In the police report for March, Mayor James Cassidy reported there were 596 total calls and 30 drug-related arrests, the latter for the seizure of marijuana, crack cocaine, heroin, and drug paraphernalia.

Borough officers also responded for seven domestic calls, nine accident reports, seven criminal mischief reports, five fights, and two burglaries, the latter on Margaret St. and Walter St.

The police department served nine arrest warrants. The department hired several new officers, and will soon have a beat officer walking the Brownsville Rd. business district from 3 to 8 p.m.

The K-9 units were used 11 times, including for park-and-walks, drug searches, traffic stops, building searches, and targeted patrols.

All computers are up and running. All surveillance cameras are operating properly.

To an attendee’s complaint about neighbors who open their doors and windows and blast music, police Chief Matt Juzwick said to call 911 and the police will take care of the situation.

An attendee complained about motorists who pull up to an apartment building and beep their horns at all hours, reputedly for drugs. The chief said to call the police for drug issues.

In the fire report for March, there were 53 EMS incidents and 17 fire incidents. A vendor show will be held from noon to 4 p.m. on April 30.

Council next voted 5-0 to award contracts in relation to the borough’s comprehensive plan: for website development, borough building space utilization/feasibility study, land management software update, and two ordinance updates.

All contracts are funded by a state grant to improve borough efficiency. The recommendations for these improvements emerged from the plan.

In the code enforcement report from inspector Chuck Knaus for March, there were 34 borough citations issued, 12 legal filings, seven occupancy inspections, 32 rental licenses issued (61 units), 46 violation/notices sent, 25 complaints, four building permits issued, one zoning permit issued, and 10 condemnation notices sent.

Councilman David Beltz said for lots with high grass and weeds to give the address to Mr. Knaus. To an attendee’s complaint about vines growing on his fence and over his shed that emanate from a neighbor’s Penn Ave. backyard, Mr. Beltz said he would check it out and talk to Mr. Knaus.

Mr. Beltz reminded everyone that 6 p.m. on Sundays is the earliest garbage can be put out for pickup. If too early, birds, cats, and rodents get into it. Call the borough if you see garbage out too early.

In the public works report, Mr. Viale said personnel: cleaned out the salt trucks to prepare for summer duty; installed street signs; patched pot holes; boarded up vacant properties; and more.

In the report of the Hilltop Economic Development Corp. (HEDC), Councilwoman Tina Reft reported that TC Candy opened for business on April 3 at 101 Brownsville Rd.

A grant was submitted to upgrade the property and purchase equipment for the bakery incubator project at 225 Brownsville Rd.

The HEDC offers a rent abatement program that will subsidize up to 50 percent of the rent for new businesses in Mt. Oliver for 12-18 months. The HEDC also offers a sign and light program for new and existing businesses that matches dollars for new signage and lighting.

A vacant commercial property tour on July 20 will visit five or six vacant borough properties.

Three upcoming borough events to keep in mind: Mt. Oliver 125th Anniversary celebration on Aug. 5 at Transverse Park; Fall Fest on Oct. 7 at Transverse Park; and Up on the Hilltop on Dec. 2 on Brownsville Rd.

In unfinished business, council is looking to fill a vacancy for an elected auditor who resigned. Residents interested in the position should submit letters of interest to borough manager Rick Hopkinson. The new auditor will work with a team of two other auditors on several weekends during February and March. There is a $400 annual stipend for the position.

The next council meeting will be on May 15.


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