South Pittsburgh Reporter - Serving South Pittsburgh Since 1939

By Margaret L. Smykla
Contributing Writer 

Brashear services highlighted at public safety meeting

 

November 16, 2021



The October Zoom monthly meeting of the Zone 3 Public Safety Council (Z3PSC) featured a presentation on the Brashear Association’s new location, program updates, and services.

The speaker was Margie Schill, Brashear’s communications and marketing manager.

Early December is the aim of the Brashear Association to open the new “The Brashear CARES Center” at 320 Brownsville Rd. in Knoxville. CARES stands for Community Access to Resources, Education and Employment Services.

Ms. Schill said the move was made to increase access to services as many of its clients live in the Hilltop.

A new logo and website will be launched soon.

Due to COVID, there will be no big Grand Opening event. But next year is a possibility, she said.

The plan is for the center to be open, Monday through Friday, from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m.

At 7 a.m. it will open for LIFESPAN senior programming. At 9 a.m. there will be case management and employment services.

Youth programming and family table will be held at 3 p.m. The family table is meals for after-school children together with their families. The youngsters may also access after-school programming.

There will be virtual mathematics classes for children on Saturdays.

The top level of the building will house administrative offices. The bottom level will consist of utility services and case management.

Plans for a food pantry are being developed. An outdoor space for services is a goal.

Other Brashear locations include the Henry Kaufmann Neighborhood House, 2201 Salisbury St. A Grab ‘n Go food pantry is open there on Tuesdays and Thursdays from noon to 4:30 p.m. Call 412-620-8282 to register.

The Brashear Association also operates a Neighborhood Employment Center at 730 E. Warrington Ave. It is open Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.

To a question about energy efficiency in the new building, Ms. Schill said she would look into it.

In reports, Z3PSC President Liz Style said the next Z3PSC meeting will be via Zoom at 6 p.m. on Nov. 18. It will be the last meeting of 2021 as there will be no December meeting.

The 2022 schedule will begin with meetings held via Zoom.

Next, in the crime trends update, Zone 3 Commander John Fisher reported most Zone 3 crimes are related to drugs and alcohol. Mental health calls are mostly for individuals under age 21.

The most recent was a call from parents regarding their 15-year-old son.

 Up to that point in October, in the South Side, there have been 315 total calls; 22 arrests; three felonies; 10 misdemeanors; and nine summary offenses. There were no gun arrests.

 Aggravated assaults are up 45 percent over last year in the city and Zone 3. There have been eight homicides so far this year in Zone 3, and 28 aggravated assault shootings.

Weekends in the South Side Flats, there were eight moving citations and 217 parking citations. Sixty-two vehicles were towed. There were also eight use-of-force reports.

To a question about a 16-year-old girl who was shot at a hotel a few weeks ago, the commander said it is under investigation. When the police responded, officers applied a tourniquet.

“We’re saving a lot of lives out there prior to paramedics arriving on the scene,” he said.

In response to comments at a prior meeting from an Allentown resident about visibly intoxicated people on Warrington Ave. in the afternoon, Commander Fisher said he spoke with those people and the Warrington Ave. beer distributor, and they all understand his stance.

Regarding problematic after-hours clubs, such as in the former American Legion building in the 1700 block of Arlington Ave., or in the 300 block of Brownsville Rd., the commander said he has met with the district attorney and city officials about the matter.

The problem is that a court order can be obtained allowing for closures, but the clubs reopen the following week.

He said the city Law Department advised holding off until they come up with a unified strategy.

But the police will continue to monitor those sites, he said.

An attendee said that at a prior Z3PSC meeting, zoning regulations at the former American Legion site were going to be looked into.

Commander Fisher said he was not aware of zoning problems, but there is no occupancy permit.

“There is no teeth,” he said of court orders which do not provide for arrests. But he will call the building owner to inform him of liability and limitations.

City Councilman Bruce Kraus agreed with the frustration of the commander about closing problematic clubs, only to have them reopen again almost immediately.

The city and county are working on a strategy to close troublesome establishments.

The city Law Department is being very cautious, he said, in light of a lawsuit against the city for shutting down an underage club on its first night.

The owner took the matter through to the state Supreme Court, and was awarded a $2 million judgment.

In the recent past, COVID restrictions led to the county Health Dept. shutting down clubs. But the restrictions are now gone.

Another obstacle to shutting down troublesome sites is that state liquor laws allow for bringing one’s own alcohol into an establishment.

Mr. Kraus said the LCB washes its hands if no liquor license is involved. As a result, the city is approaching the problem from a “multitude of angles,” he said, such as involving building inspection, zoning, occupancy, and more.

Commander Fisher said loud music, disorderly conduct, and other infractions can result in a closure, so residents should call 911 to report such disturbances.

To a question of how one can tell if a new club is opening, Mr. Kraus said there will be an orange placard in the window if the establishment is seeking to sell alcohol for the first time.

On another topic, Commander Fisher said were 75 officer retirements/resignations this year, with 10 to 15 more expected.

 “We’re in a pinch here with manpower.

 “We’re in crisis mode right now,” he said of the lack of officers.

 Regarding homelessness on the South Side, he is aware of an encampment at 15th St. He talked to the county mental health agency about it.

There are legal issues involving going in and displacing the inhabitants of an encampment, he said.

There is also the dilemma of “where do they go?” he said.

“It’s not a crime to be homeless,” he said.

But residents should call 911 if the homeless are causing a problem on the streets.

Mr. Kraus said homelessness from illness, job loss, or similar factors is not the entire picture.

There is also “deliberate vagrancy” by those who choose to live on the street, he said.

To break up an encampment, a notice must be posted for two weeks at the site. Collected items must be stored and made available for the displaced to claim.

Mr. Kraus said while walking on Smithfield St. downtown he passes about 20 doorways with people sleeping.

“It takes our county and state officials to deal with these encampment problems.

“It can’t be solved on a local level,” he said.

Bob Charland, of Mr. Kraus’ office, said people living in a vehicle at the 15th St. encampment were given 10 days to move the vehicle by the police.

The commander said he was not aware of that, and would look into it.

Mr. Charland said he would like an update on the matter.

He said he is dealing with three encampments on the South Side: one on the Flats and two on the Slopes.

Ms. Style said residents should contact her or Mr. Charland if someone in an encampment needs help.

The next Z3PSC meeting will be via Zoom at 6 p.m. on Nov. 18.

 

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