Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Money talks UPDATED

I am very lucky to say that I am surrounded by wonderful neighbors. These young parents are carrying on the tradition of spending every evening, weather permitting, in Rockwood Park. They are also stepping up to the plate to make Rockwood Park a safer place. A group went to the commission meeting the other night and witnessed our commissioner, along with the rest of the commissioners vote against the sole bid to make the upper lot of Rockwood Park a safer place. 

Manager Keith McGill was quoted in The Almanac article Mt. Lebanon commissioners reject bids for parks, history center 
“Even prior to tonight’s meeting, our police department has been paying a little bit more extra attention to that area of Rockwood Park,” said municipal manager Keith McGill. “The idea was to eliminate that upper parking area and green it over to address some of the issues. However, the lone bid we received came over twice the estimated cost established by our engineer. We only had one bidder that responded, so it’s more prudent for us to take a step back.” 
McGill acknowledged that the reason for the low interest in bidding was possibly attributable to the timing of when bids were sent out, during which many contractors already have scheduled their upcoming workload, along with other factors.
What this third generation of Rockwood Park parents may not understand is that Gateway Engineering, our municipal engineers, has the power to make or break any project in Mt. Lebanon. They control the solicitation of bids. This project was approved back in December with the new budget. But Gateway only contacts contractors who they believe would be interested in the jobs. Why did they wait so long to solicit bids?  Why can't our Public Works do the job? It wouldn't be the first time that Public Works would be used in Rockwood Park, in order to save money.

Granted, there is so much money available. But Commissioner McLean has already committed to bringing back White Buffalo to kill what few deer are left, even though archers would do it for free. What did we spend last year on killing deer? $100,000? Not to mention the cost of police enforcement on the streets, in the courts, and behind their desks. All in the name of public safety. But there isn't enough money available to correct a public safety issue that has been going on for generations.

It all depends on who is asking. In Mt. Lebanon, money talks. Rockwood is right at the Castle Shannon border. Had this been an issue in Ward 1, we would have been taken more seriously.

For example, Ward 1 commissioner John Bendel is pushing for bricks again. Continued in The Almanac article:

Also during the June 27 meeting, several residents complimented commissioners for deferring a project that would have replaced bricks on Morrison Drive with asphalt.
Residents expressed concern about how a smoother street might encourage speeding. They also are worried about the decrease in property values and overall allure that brick streets provide. 
The commissioners are focusing on replacing other streets in the municipality while attempting to formulate a policy regarding brick streets. 
“When we come up with our policy, those concerns brought up will be the main part of it,” Commissioner John Bendel said. “The reasons to keep the brick are the charm, the aesthetic value and the value it provides to their properties. It also slows down traffic because it’s an uneven surface. 
“The other side of the story is cost,” he continued. “It’s expensive up front to put brick in vs. asphalt, where it can be two to four times more expensive. The question is, do you get that back over the long term.” 
As a temporary measure, patches of asphalt will be used so that the street remains drivable.
This is nothing new. Two years ago, we went through this with Rae Drive, also in Ward 1.
Mt. Lebanon residents opposed to loss of brick roads What about Castle Shannon Blvd.? That road lost out to asphalt. Are people speeding more? Did property values drop on Castle Shannon? Does Ward 1 seem to think they are entitled to special treatment? Or is it just Bendel who is creating the fuss? John, are you willing to give up deer killing in order to have enough money to keep your bricked roads? Oh wait. We're in court with Scott Township because you want to kill deer in Twin Hills, also in your ward. There is so much money. Maybe you can save some for those of us living in the ghetto.

Update June 29, 2016 6:24 PM Sent to the commissioners:

I wanted to remind you about the Mt. Lebanon Parks Master Plan, prepared and presented in March 2004.
Read about the condition of Rockwood Park starting on page 42 of 114. We did get new playground equipment since 2004. Read what the recommendations are for the upper lot and basketball court. From 2004.

Elaine Gillen


Note the process that was used with the formulation of this plan.

Process and Goals The process that was used to create this Master Plan was intended to be open and accessible to residents. There was a series of public meetings designed to generate discussion, comments and guidelines for the design plans. Focus groups and interviews were conducted, which allowed for in-depth discussion on specific topics. Preliminary drawings were available on Mt. Lebanon's web site, and people were encouraged to directly contact LaQuatra Bonci Associates. The master planning process was guided by the Steering Committee, which was composed of the Commissioners and several members of the Municipal staff.
My husband and I were involved in the process. We had been trying to get these issues resolved for years prior to the Plan. Check out the Acknowledgments in the Plan.

Keith McGill and Susan Fleming-Stroyd-Morgans were on the steering committee. They should know all about this plan and the work that is desperately needed to make Rockwood Park safe. A temporary solution is to step up police presence and to initiate daily cleanups by Public Works. Wouldn't it be cheaper to just get the work done, Folks? But what do I know? We've only been at this since the 80's.

Deteriorating parking lot in 2004…deteriorating parking lot in 2016.


E. T. Gillen said...

Our commission is a disgrace. Our neighborhood has been treated poorly or ignored completely for too long. People with money get special treatment. Our neighborhood is a blend of retired people and young, growing families. No old or new money in this neighborhood, so we're ignored.

If you aren't an athletic supporter or a rich gardener, you're not worthy of our commissioners' time. Keep paying your taxes and just make sure you pay them before July 31, to get the discount.

RG said...

With respect to Twin Hills being in John Bendel's Ward - it isn't. Twin Hills is still legally a part of Scott Township. The fact that Mt. Lebanon bought it does not change that fact. The deer issue aside, there is a "war" going on between Scott and Mt. Lebanon, and recently it has escalated somewhat with Scott closing off some of its residential roads leading into Lebo in order to keep detoured traffic from the Painters Run Road construction project from trying to use Scott's neighborhood roads as a shortcut from Bower Hill Road to Kelso. Unfortunately, the byproduct of this has been greatly increased traffic on bordering Mt. Lebanon residential streets. Protests by Lebo cops to Scott were met with a firm rebuke. While all parties will likely deny it, it was suggested to me by a reliable source that Scott is "très irritée" over Lebo's legal fight with Scott over Lebo's desire to cull deer in Twin Hills, and blocking off their roads was a good way to express that irritation.

A couple of years ago I spent considerable time trying to get an answer as to who has jurisdiction in Twin Hills, and why, if Mt. Lebanon wanted to apply their statues to it, they did not annex TH into Lebo. Our solicitor told me that the act of incorporating new land into Lebo isn't easy - or cheap - and that Lebo had a right to exert its control of TH as it was. Now if you or I were to by property in Scott and try to apply Mt. Lebanon statutes to it do you think we would be successful? Of course not! And as much as I am supportive of people being able to do as they wish with their property, in this case there is a issue of sovereignty that is being challenged; and Scott has every right to prohibit hunting in Twin Hills if that land is, indeed, legally within the boundaries of Scott Township.

Anonymous said...

Now it makes sense at to why Bethany and Pembroke had No Left Turn signs where they intersect Kelso. I couldn't figure that one out because it was creating more of an inconvenience for the Scott residents who live up that way. Thanks RG. I wouldn't be surprised if Scott residents were given the ok to make those left turns.

Nick M.

RG said...

"...if you or I were to by property in Scott..."
Let's make that "...if you or I were to buy property in Scott..." AND

"...there is a issue of..." to "...there is an issue of..."

Senior moment strikes again!

RG said...

Nick M:
Local residents certainly do make the left at those places. In addition, Oxford Blvd. residents in Lebo coming up Kelso have little choice but to turn left at Pembroke or Worcester (although turning left onto Worcester during rush hours is a nightmare!). My understanding is that as long as you're in Lebo you'll be OK - and if you happen to be down in Scott and returning to an adjoining Lebo street via one of the sequestered Scott streets, and a Scott cop pulls you over, you can show your driver's license and that should be the end of it.