Swissvale Council Revokes Peoples Gas Work Permits After Trees Die

UPDATE to Swissvale about Peoples Natural Gas line work/butchered trees.

Swissvale Neighbors/Friends,
THANK YOU to everyone who attended the Swissvale Borough Council meeting last night.
Several residents spoke to the concerns of our block; including miscommunication, lack of advance notice, personal property damage, and other concerns as well as the tree massacre.
The executive director of the Nine Mile Watershed Association, Brenda Smith, spoke on behalf of our trees and I feel will be an excellent "expert witness" with any assessments and/or replacements moving forward. The most interesting thing she shared (of which the Borough Council had NO knowledge) was that her organization had a meeting with 4 representatives of Peoples Natural Gas months BEFORE the proposed construction and brought this possible outcome to their attention. Apparently they told Nine Mile Watershed that they would take steps so that this wouldn't happen. The full Borough Council expressed grave concern at this.
Councilman Darrell Rapp has come forward as a strong advocate as well, personally delivering letters to the 4 houses on our block who are directly affected and meeting with us afterward to express his strong support. I quote him, "Peoples will be on a very short leash from now on". 
Council assured us that Peoples Natural Gas has had all of their work permits in Swissvale Borough revoked until a resolution is achieved so it is in their interests to make this right as well. (On that note, does anyone know: would it be standard for the subcontractors who are doing the actual work to have a clause in their contract that guarantees that they be paid daily no matter the political block?)
Have a very safe and happy 4th of July holiday. I thank you all again for your concern and your unwavering support.  The historic trees in our neighborhoods are priceless in their beauty and stately watch over us all.  
Noelle Badertscher

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Meg July 05, 2012 at 03:57 PM
This is such a sad situation. I'm happy to see such a swift response from Swissvale Borough. I hope that the Edgewood Borough Council is aware of this and keeps an eye on what PNG does in our borough.
Pat Schaefer July 05, 2012 at 05:03 PM
Because some folks may not have seen the link to the original report on this problem, here is what Edgewood has done already: As soon as we were contracted and prior to any activity in Edgewood, the Borough manager toured the streets with the PNG engineers and consultants and identified issues with line replacement including street repaving, sidewalk replacement, and tree roots. Based on this, they identified the best location for the lines which have to be replaced. A notice that there was going to be a PNG line replacement in Edgewood was placed in the May newsletter. As soon as we had the schedule of streets, the PNG press release and the schedule were posted on our website. We continue to monitor the process and are in touch with our arborist.
Jeff Davidson July 05, 2012 at 05:35 PM
Ms. Shaefer, if what you are saying is true about the Edgewood Borough's coordination with PNG, it doesn't make sense that they would send their engineers and consultants out with Edgewood's manager, but not with Swissvale's. It's the same company spearheading the work. Someone's not telling the whole truth here. I live on Lehigh Street, and our street does not appear to be on the schedule you've posted on the borough page, but our sidewalks have been marked by surveyors, so it's pretty clear they will be digging at some point in the future. That's something to look into. Based on the PNG press release, also posted on the borough site, it says residents will receive written notification by letter, one week prior to work being done. That would constitute written notification, but posting on the borough website and in the newsletter does not. (I do appreciate that it's there, however). PNG should be thankful Ms. Badertscher raised the red flag here. It probably saved them hundreds of thousands of dollars in tree replacement costs, even if it means they have to spend a little extra going forward.
Pat Schaefer July 05, 2012 at 07:47 PM
Municipalities have different procedures, requirements in working with utilities. When Edgewood was notified of the project, we made a point to meet with the PNG folks; to have the manager go with them to look at the area before work began. Based on that tour, some of the work proposal changed, went from one side of the street to the other side or in the street. The schedule we posted on the website was the one we received for the original plan. It was posted on our website for our residents to have information regarding the project, not in lieu of PNG's providing written notice the week before as they said they would. PNG is still to provide written notice to residents. We've been checking. If they've missed contacting folks the week before, then please call the Borough and let us know. Depending on what PNG has found pipe condition-wise as they start replacement, there has been some necessary extension/modification of the work plan that would not have been in the original schedule posted. Not having my Council notes with me, that may be what's happened with Lehigh. I can say that the manager has been actively involved in monitoring any changes and has had our arborist involved.(which is one reason some changes were made in the original plan). We can update the web site posting with changes as they occur. But residents should still be getting PNG notification. If not, or if there are any questions, please call the borough so we can find out in a timely manner. thanks
John Cerniga July 22, 2012 at 12:57 AM
It is aparent that Edgewood did their homework, and Swissvale did not! Swissvale Engineer flies by the seat of his pants, this is y Wilkinsburgh got rid of him. The only thing the work stoppage does is leave the100 year old Gas lines under Swissvales Streets.


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