By Margaret L. Smykla
Contributing Writer 

Mt. Oliver Council meeting covers parking meters to the Easter Bunny


Last updated 3/30/2019 at 7:56pm

In the mayor’s report which began the March 18 meeting of Mt. Oliver council, Mayor Frank Bernardini said the borough is in danger of losing lifelong residents due to quality-of-life decline in the neighborhood – bottles thrown in yards, trash issues, disruptive tenants, drugs, vandalism and more.

“We’re losing our tax base.

“You can drive around the borough and see for-sale signs everywhere,” he said.

Addressing two specific residences, the mayor said a lifelong resident on St. Joseph St. may sell their home and move, as might an Ormsby Ave. homeowner.

“We can’t lose any more longtime residents,” Councilman Nick Viglione said.

The mayor also asked why Mt. Oliver will not be reaping the benefits of a $400,000 local grant to renovate houses.

Borough manager Rick Hopkinson responded the grant was awarded to the Hilltop Alliance, which largely serves Allentown and Beltzhoover.

“Mt. Oliver’s left out of the picture again,” Mr. Bernardini said.

In the public safety report for February he next read, there were 657 total calls for service, and 25 drug arrests, the latter for the seizure of marijuana, crack cocaine, heroin, and drug paraphernalia.

There were two burglaries: copper pipe stolen from an Ormsby Ave. address, and money/marijuana stolen in a Stamm Ave. home invasion. He said the latter victims are not cooperating with the police.

There was one DUI arrest.

The K-9 units were used 25 times, including for a drug search, arrests, park-and-walks, and targeted patrols. Nine warrants were served by the police department.

The police responded to six commercial alarms and 11 residential alarms.

Parking Enforcement wrote 73 borough tickets, while the Police Department wrote 12 borough tags. There were 40 state citations issued for parking violations. The total collected for payment of fines for tickets issued in February was $920.

All police equipment is operating properly.

The total miles on all vehicles was 3,780 miles. Vehicle maintenance and repair totaled $183.28.

Traffic stops conducted in February totaled 140.

Mr. Viglione said to call 911 if anyone spots drug activity. Mr. Bernardini reminded attendees that calls to 911 may be anonymous.

Councilwoman Barbara Keener said the borough is looking for three residents to serve on the Nuisance Property Board. The board must be in place before any action is taken, according to the borough ordinance.

Board members will be called for service only when an issue arises for their consideration.

In the engineer’s report, work has begun on the Ormsby Park retaining wall.

There was no fire report. On a fire-related topic, residents should contact the borough if they are in need of free smoke detectors.

In the planning committee report, zoning ordinances are being updated.

In the code enforcement report for February, Councilman Aaron Graham reported there were 40 violations, and 52 of 833 open cases. There were 12 hearings in front of District Magistrate Richard King.

Twenty-eight rental licenses were issued for 43 units, and 14 rental applications/notices were mailed out for licenses expiring March 31. Two occupancy permits and one building permit were issued.

In public safety, council voted 6-0, with Council president Amber McGough absent, to hire Ryan Lawrence as a full-time police officer.

In the public works report for February, Councilman Dave Lowe reported routine facility maintenance was conducted, like emptying trash, cleaning/sweeping, and re-stocking supplies.

Trash cans were emptied three times per week in the business district, and TVs, tires, and debris were picked up throughout the borough.

Stop signs were repaired at Brownsville and Quincy; Quincy and Fulton; and Transverse and Giffin.

Temporary “no parking” signs were posted at Ormsby Park and the 100 block of Brownsville.

A list of signs needing repaired or replaced was created.

In Transverse and Ormsby parks, workers emptied trash cans/spot swept three times per week.

In sanitary/storm sewer maintenance, inlets were cleaned throughout the borough. Five dye tests were performed.

In economic development, Councilwoman Tina Reft reported the borough’s Easter celebration will be held from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on April 13. There will be a pancake breakfast at the fire hall from 10 a.m.-noon. Tickets are $5. Participating businesses will be handing out goodies.

The Easter Bunny will be at TC Candy from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m., with pictures taken for a small donation.

Ms. Reft also reported the Commonwealth Sandwich Co. is open Thursday-Friday-Saturday at 225 Brownsville Rd, the same site as the Bakery Society of Pittsburgh’s bakery incubator.

Breakfast is available 8 a.m.-11 a.m., and lunch from 11 a.m.-5 p.m.

Email for more information.

In the question-and-answer period that concludes council meetings, Jorg Gerlach, who purchased both 107 Penn and 221 Brownsville, said he was interested in acquiring the lot at 118 Penn for additional parking for his 107 Penn project.

The project is nearing completion and is going to be a place where crafters from around the world will have space to produce high quality goods such as metalworks, leather, cologne, and clothing.

In addition to being a space for production, his aim is to create a unique and interesting destination for tourists and visitors of Pittsburgh. There will also be a gourmet coffee shop and micro distillery that will be open to the public. 

The lot he wants to acquire had a vacant house that caught fire multiple times over the years, and which the borough demolished recently as it posed a public safety hazard.

The land is up for sheriff’s auction due to back taxes. Beckman Motors is also interested in acquiring the lot. Both parties will have the opportunity to bid on the lot at auction. 

Mr. Gerlach said he was hoping the borough would supply him with a letter of support, but solicitor Emily Mueller said it would not be proper.

“This is a legal process and anyone can attend,” she said.

Mr. Gerlach said he would attend the auction.

The next speakers were a Louisa St. couple who complained that new neighbors park in front of three garages on the street, thereby making it impossible for them to pull out of, or into, their garage.

The neighbors park partially on the sidewalk and partially on the street.

Mr. Hopkinson said council could amend the parking ordinance to include this area as there are no restrictions now on parking there.

Mr. Viglione told the couple he is in favor of an amendment as he used to live in that area.

Councilman Justin Viale, who conducted the meeting in the absence of Mrs. McGough, said council would have a decision at next month’s council meeting if the couple wanted to return then.

The next meeting will be on April 15.


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