By Margaret L. Smykla
Contributing Writer 

Abandonded cars an issue in Mt. Oliver City


Last updated 6/6/2018 at 8:21pm

Crime the past four months in Mt. Oliver City was “extremely low”, said community relations Officer Christine Luffey in kicking off the May 24 meeting of the Mt. Oliver City/St. Clair Community Group.

The crimes included: one aggravated assault, one burglary, one criminal mischief, one simple assault, three thefts from auto, and three thefts.

In the burglary case in the 400 block of Cathedral Ave., a resident awoke to a boom sound, and discovered one of his two cars was damaged. The other car was stolen. The victim said he could have left his door unlocked.

The stolen car was eventually recovered.

In the criminal mischief case in the 400 block of Fisher St., a resident found a lost dog on the street that he took to the Zone 3 station. The animal was taken to the shelter.

“It is always good to help an animal or person in need,” Officer Luffey said.

Unfortunately, that evening, two men threw rocks at his house yelling for the dog.

In the simple assault case in the 400 block of Cathedral Ave., a man called 911. His face was bleeding: it was a domestic as he was hit by his girlfriend. Charges were filed.

Regarding the problem of abandoned cars, Officer Luffey said to call 311.

“You report it. Don’t assume your neighbor will.

“Keep reporting it until it’s resolved,” she said.

When Officer Luffey asked for questions, a resident said she sees a lot of drug activity, and would like the officers to check back alleys. Officer Luffey said she would ask for more patrols.

Another resident said he also sees daily drug activity at Mountain Ave. and Fisher St. Cars wait on Fisher, and then pull alongside each other for drug transactions.

Officer Luffey said to try to get license plate numbers in a safe fashion.

Another attendee said there is an abandoned car on Fisher and Kohne streets with smashed windows and flat tires. Officer Luffey said to call 911 and 311.

“Better to be safe than sorry,” she said.

Next, Oliver Beasley, community affairs liaison in the city’s Office of Community Affairs, said the city’s abandoned cars problem is a “top priority” of Mayor William Peduto.

Another meeting of city officials discussing an abandoned cars policy will be held next week.

City Councilman Bruce Kraus said the mayor fully understands how upset residents are dealing with the problem and, therefore, wants a policy within 60 days.

Mr. Kraus said he shared photographs with officials of abandoned cars, which was very powerful.

His hope is to pilot the new policy in Mt. Oliver City.

“It drives me crazy, too,” he said of abandoned cars.

If the windows are broken and the tires are flat, or if it is leaking fluids, the car can be removed by the city as a public safety hazard.

Mr. Beasley told attendees to take photos of such vehicles and email to him at, and he will submit to 311.

To a question about discarded tires filled with water and mosquitoes, Mr. Beasley called them a public health and/or fire issue.

Mr. Kraus said to call 311.

To a question about expired registration stickers, Mr. Kraus said they are more difficult to spot since PennDOT eliminated stickers.

He next announced that Public Works’ 4th Division facility on Bausman St. in Knoxville which became “uninhabitable” as the building was toxic and unhealthy, and no longer viable, will be demolished.

He said a new home would be named by July, and that he wants it to be on the same site.

“It’s going to look like a professional operation,” he said.

Mr. Kraus next encouraged attendees to attend the upcoming capital budget meetings to say what they would like for the community.

Called “Potholes and Pierogies”, the meetings will consist of dinner and a discussion of the city’s 2019 capital budget. The meetings will be held on June 13 and June 20 from 6 to 8:30 p.m.

The June 13 event will be held at the Goodwill of Southwestern PA in Lawrenceville. The June 20 event will be held at the Healthy Active Learning Center in Mt. Washington.

On another topic, Mr. Beasley said there are not enough crossing guards in the city. City residents may apply on the city website.

To a question about how streets are chosen for paving, Mr. Kraus said the system is digitized to make it a “data-driven process.”

The city and Public Works are also in contact with the utility companies to make sure the city does not tear up a street if a utility company is about to do the same.

Sarah Baxendell, project manager, greenspace asset development for the Hilltop Alliance, announced the Hilltop Alliance is offering a Free Personal Wills Program for qualifying Hilltop homeowners, age 50 or older.

The purpose is to ensure their homes have a defined heir who will more easily be able to gain control of the properties and possibly receive financial assistance for home improvements after their loved one has died.

The Hilltop Alliance has found such properties fell into a state of disrepair after the owners of record died without having the legal framework in place to transfer ownership to a defined heir.

Interested residents should call the Hilltop Alliance, 412-586-5807, and ask for Tim Dolan. Ms. Baxendell said she would bring him to the next Mt. Oliver City/St. Clair Community Group meeting.

She also announced a community tour of the Hilltop Urban Farm will be held at 7 p.m. on June 4. Attendees should enter through the Mountain Ave. gate at 700 Cresswell St.

The 107-acre site is the former St. Clair Village.

The next work day at the farm will be from 9 a.m. to noon on June 9.

Ms. Baxendell said the issue of fences at the farm will go before the Zoning Board of Adjustment on June 7 as the fences are too high. The parking must also be okayed by the board.

There are no summer meetings of the Mt. Oliver City/St. Clair Community Group scheduled at this time.

The next meetings will be on Sept. 27 and Nov. 15. Both meetings will be held at the Arlington PreK-8 School, 800 Rechtenwald St.


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