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Swissvale Council Debates Sidewalk Closures, ALCOSAN

A bridge renovation causes headaches for the borough while wastewater poses problems for the county's sanitary authority

A packed house filled the Swissvale Council Chambers for its monthly meeting last night, including three Oakland Catholic High School students required to attend a council meeting for class. Council took a group picture with the students after the meeting to prove the students attended.

Greening the waters

Brenda Smith spoke during Swissvale's public comment period about recent plans by ALCOSAN, the Allegheny County Sanitary Authority, which provides wastewater treatment to 83 communities in the region. 

In 2007, ALCOSAN was fined $1.2 million by the federal government for illegally discharging wastewater into local rivers and streams. ALCOSAN signed a consent decree and, by January 2013, is required to present a plan regarding how to solve its wastewater problem. To meet the terms of the consent decree, ALCOSAN would spend in the range of $3.6 billion, which it has said it can't afford. An alternative plan—using "grey" instead of "green" infrastructure—has been proposed. It costs $2.8 billion and does not meet the terms of the consent decree.

Smith is with the Nine Mile Run Watershed Association, which has launched a Clean Rivers Campaign, encouraging municipalities to lobby ALCOSAN to come up with a better plan—one that will meet the consent decree and use "green" instead of "grey" infrastructure.

"We ask that serious consideration be given to a green strategy," she said. 

Council members said they're behind the consideration. Council passed a motion to ask ALCOSAN to consider green infrastructure as part of its plan to meet the terms of the consent decree.

"Our community sits on top of the river," said council Vice President Mike Epitropoulos. "It's imperative for our community."

The public comment period regarding ALCOSAN's plan lasts until Oct. 19.

Where the sidewalk ends

The Washington Street Bridge continues to pose problems for the borough. The railroad is paying for repairs to the bridge's superstructure but not the bridge's sidewalks, which are in extreme disrepair on both sides of the road crossing over the East Busway and the railroad tracks. 

Work has begun to fix those sidewalks—at borough expense. The sidewalks are closed. In the meantime, plastic jersey barriers have been ordered to improvise a temporary sidewalk on the north side of the road. But the borough has received complaints from residents who are disabled and unable to ascend onto the sidewalk in front of Dinardo's Hair Cutting. Carmine Russo, director of  public works, proposed a temporary parking ban in the four spots in front of Dinardo's and the other businesses on that block.

"This is the best we can do for the least amount of money," said Swissvale Engineer Robert Zischkau. 

"If we're going to take those spots," said councilwoman Patricia Gionta, "we need to let (those business owners) know, like, tomorrow."

Items of note

* The new fire station was dedicated last weekend. The fire department is moving into its news station "in the next couple weeks," said fire Chief Clyde Wilhelm. There will be an open house Saturday between 11 a.m. and 4 p.m. at the new fire station at 7400 Irvine St. 

Council approved:

  • The First Amendment and Memorandum of Lease agreements with 7-Eleven Inc. The BP station at 1600 South Braddock Ave. will now be a 7-Eleven, paying the same rents to the borough as BP paid previously.
  • Recommendation to award low bidder Sports and Recreation Associated Inc. for the Memorial Park Phase II Project.
  • Hiring two sub positions for school crossing guards. Walter Clemmons Jr. and Mary Dickson will be hired contingent upon employment and background clearances.
  • Purchasing a new police vehicle.

(See photos for council agenda and reports.)

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