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By Tom Smith
South Pittsburgh Reporter Editor 

Parking, use of plaza discussed at boro meeting


Last updated 8/23/2022 at 4:10pm

The Mt. Oliver Borough Council's July meeting was light on agenda, but included lively discussion initiated by area residents.

Attending the meeting were council members: Amber McGough, Tina Reft, Nick Viglione, Paul Doyle, Aaron Graham and Brandon Taylor, along with Mayor JoAnna Taylor. Lisa Pietrusza was absent.

An area resident was concerned with a traffic and parking situation on Margaret Street near William Street. Although the section she addressed had a yellow line and "No Parking" signs, there were often cars parked there. She said the area is on a bend in the street, making it difficult for approaching cars to pass each other.

"There're two "No Parking signs" and there're cars parked there all the time," she said. "And when I ride up the hill, I have to stop right here because it's parked. There are cars there and there are cars flying down from Brownsville Road."

Another resident stated she also broached the subject before council in April and it hasn't been addressed, yet.

Council President McGough asked if there were yellow lines on the curb. There was an affirmative answer, along with that there are two "No Parking" signs.

Mr. Graham asked if the area in question had been added to the no parking ordinance. Borough Manager Rick Hopkinson said although that portion of the street has a yellow line, it was not listed in the ordinance.

For the August meeting, council members will look at the situation and will discuss whether the area should be added to the no parking ordinance. In the meantime, the yellow line will be painted over and the "No Parking" signs will be removed.

There was another complaint about neighbors in an apartment building throwing food and dirty diapers into the neighbor's yards. She said one evening they even threw pierogies that hit her pine trees and fell into her yard.

She said her neighbors have video of the tenants throwing things into their yards.

Mr. Hopkinson said he has contacted the landlord about the tenants in the past and would contact them again. The resident said she would like to be on the call to the landlord.

The discussion turned to the use of the clocktower plaza at Hays and Brownsville Road and if it can be restricted. Mr. Hopkinson confirmed the borough doesn't have a permitting process for reserving the space.

"I don't understand how you can restrict people from using it, they just can't have a reservation there," he said.

Solicitor Emily Mueller said since it's an open space there are First Amendment rights attached to it. People are allowed to congregate there as long as they aren't in the streets and disrupting the flow of traffic.

There was a question asking since the Clocktower Plaza was private property that the borough had a long-term agreement to use, should the property owners be contacted to use the space for an event.

"There are some First Amendment protections that apply. So even if it is private property, it's open to the public. It's different than if it was your house," Ms. Mueller said. "My concern is if it's borough property and doesn't sound like (it is) borough property, that's not really us to get involved with that, it's on the person who owns it. If they let people use it or not, that's a matter for them to address."

"I believe it's just the borough has the right to use the space as a public space, our clocktower is on it, we used to have events there," Mr. Hopkinson said. "We're trying to convene a meeting with the Beckmans to go over that again to figure out if they're allowing us to purchase that or another long-term lease.

"It's been used as a public space for 30 years. I don't think that's going to change now. I think we need to do a new agreement to figure out what the ownership rights look like and the use of rights, but I don't think anything's going to change their mind."

"One thing we need to clarify is the terms with whoever the owner is, and is it something that we have the right to use just for special events, or in addition to us like 24/7. Because, I think makes differences as well as we have the first right to use it, but otherwise it's just open to the public," Ms. Mueller said.

Mr. Graham said he wanted to clarify before moving forward, that it's not so the borough can have some ironclad "we don't like your message out thing." He said if that was the expectation from people in the room, that that's not how it works.

"I would like to find out whether we can extend whatever this nebulous lease agreement is or take it up eventually. I think, I believe it should belong to the borough. That's what makes the most sense to me. So that's my vote on this. Yeah, I just want to make sure I was clear. You don't like the preaching, we're still not going say no to them," Mr. Graham said.


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