By Margaret L. Smykla
Contributing Writer 

Zone 3 Council turns focus on to area neighborhoods


Last updated 7/8/2022 at 3:44pm

"Us – the Zone 3 Neighborhoods!" was the focus of the June 23 Zoom meeting of the Zone 3 Public Safety Council (Z3PSC).

Residents of neighborhoods who were in attendance were asked to report on the good things occurring in their areas, what has been accomplished, and to ask for help, if needed.

For Allentown, Sebastian Foltz of the Hilltop Alliance reported the spring Allentown Night Market, featuring crafters, live performances, food/beverage vendors, and more went well.

The annual Beltzhoover Community Day will be held July 16-17 at the top of McKinley Park, 900 Delmont Ave.

In Knoxville, Sharlee Ellison reported the Knoxville Community Council is working with the Hilltop Alliance. There are discussions about properties through the sheriff's sale to rehab.

Mayor Ed Gainey will do a walk-thru in Knoxville in mid-August.

A "Knox Watch" has begun that targets problem properties, and is patterned after the "South Watch" initiative in the South Side developed by the South Side Community Council (SSCC).

In Mt. Oliver City/St. Clair, Patty Stewart reported that National Night Out (NNO) will be held on Aug. 2 from 6:30 to 8 p.m. at the corner of Fisher St. and Mountain Ave. There will be beverages and cupcakes.

The annual national event is designed to advance the importance of neighborhood unity and community-public safety relationships, and will be held locally in various neighborhoods as porch gatherings, block parties, festivals, and more.

The Mt. Oliver City/St. Clair event is registered through the city.

The deadline is July 22 for block watches to register their neighborhood's NNO event with the city's Dept. of Public Safety to receive resources for their celebrations. Public safety personnel can also be scheduled to stop by.

The address is: .

In the South Side Flats, Barbara Rudiak reported the SSCC Garden Tour will be held on July 10 from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Goatfest, featuring vendors, entertainment, and more, will be held on July 30 at the Arlington ball field. The purpose of the goats is to eat invasive species and vines.

South Watch meetings are held on the second Wednesdays. Its focus is problem properties and more. Ms. Rudiak said more than 400 properties have been dealt with over the years.

Next, Candice Gonzalez, of the South Side Chamber of Commerce, reported OpenStreetsPGH was held on May 29, with over 12,000 attendees.

The event closed streets to car traffic and opened them to children, pedestrians, dog walkers, bikers, and others from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.

She also said the June 14 town hall meeting with Mayor Gainey to address violence in a six-block stretch of the Flats drew at least 175 attendees and over 240 on Zoom.

"It's encouraging," she said.

The annual South Side Golf Classic will be held on Aug. 1 at South Hills Country Club in Whitehall.

In more Beltzhoover news, city Councilman Bruce Kraus said city council declared June 22 to be "Connie Wellons Day" on her 90th birthday.

Wellons Way was unveiled in honor of Connie and Sherman Wellons. The new name replaces Freeland St.

Mayor Gainey was also present to honor Ms. Wellons for her years of volunteer service to the community.

In reports, Safer Together coordinator Ian Reynolds said in light of Ormsby Park issues, a police officer will drive by.

More trash cans are coming to Corey Field. Regarding parking, a pathway will be open for emergencies.

With game scheduling, there will be tweaks, and there will also be police officers, and leagues will have their own security. Permits for fields are free.

An attendee commented she has seen youngsters beaten in parking lots after football games there.

Mr. Reynolds also announced the 2022 Sports Event Funding Program is accepting submissions through July 15. Also, the 2022 STOP the Violence grant application process is open through July 5.

In his report, Zone 3 Commander John Fisher said the zone has the busiest call volume for service in the city.

There have been 10 homicides in the zone to date, with the most recent being the prior Friday.

He also reported the last two weekends have been a little quieter in the South Side with more plainclothes officers patrolling the parking lots and more.

The commander said the Health Department was asked to step in regarding a store on Warrington Ave. that is a trouble spot. There are also problems with three abandoned properties on Zara St. in which inhabitants may be engaged in drug dealing.

To a complaint about shots fired nightly in Arlington, Commander Fisher said he is looking into it.

Regarding swimming pools' safety, Mr. Kraus said a "much broader and deeper conversation is taking place about swimming pools' safety this summer."

An attendee said she recently witnessed an altercation with shots fired at Ormsby Pool. She was surrounded by gunmen as she was trying to save the children. 

"It was terrifying," she said.

She identified one of the gunmen, and fears he will come after her.

She now suffers from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and will likely move elsewhere with her family.

To a question about the shooters, the commander said they have their names, but the names cannot be released as they are minors.

To a question if there would be security at Ormsby Park when a movie was scheduled to be shown nearby the following week, Commander Fisher said he would post an officer or put it on the patrol list.

Next, an attendee questioned the median strip PennDOT recently installed. She said an ambulance tried to get through the 2400 block and had great difficulty.

Mr. Kraus said PennDOT's East Carson St. project is intended to improve safety. He said he could have PennDOT at the next meeting to talk about these issues.

Next, an attendee said the follow-up meeting to the June 14 town hall to discuss public safety on East Carson St. had a good mix of residents and business owners.

His concern is that no local government officials were there.

Mr. Kraus said he received no invitation to attend, either from the organizers or the Mayor's office.

An attendee said the 10 a.m. meeting was announced at the town hall meeting.

"There was a nice blend of business owners and residents and others very active in the community.

"Multiple groups are working to make things happen," she said.

Mr. Kraus said city officials "wish to be collaborators in this, too."

Ms. Rudiak said there are no recommendations at this time. How to move forward was the issue, she said.

In his report, CeaseFirePA Western Pennsylvania manager Josh Fleitman said the U.S. Senate is moving to pass a gun safety bill, which would be its first in 30 years.

"It only catches up the country to where Pennsylvania already is," he said.

CeaseFirePA is the largest and longest-serving anti-gun violence group in Pennsylvania.

He also reported the U.S. Supreme Court struck down a New York gun law that placed restrictions on carrying a concealed handgun.

On the state level, Mr. Fleitman said we should call legislative leadership in Harrisburg about gun violence prevention. Among those to contact are President Pro Tempore Sen. Jake Corman and majority leader Sen. Kim Ward.

Also, Speaker of the House Rep. Bryan Cutler and majority leader Rep. Kerry A. Benninghoff.

Next, state Rep. Jessica Benham said she will not stop trying to push for votes, such as for safe storage and straw purchasing, the latter referring to someone buying a firearm for someone else who cannot pass the background check.

There will be no Z3PSC meeting in August. 

In September, it will be announced if future meetings will be hybrid or in-person only.


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