Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Citizen concerns about development and zoning dominate meeting

Last night the Tarentum Borough Council held a two hour meeting. The fact that committees had not met during the summer may have contributed to the need for more discussion of the few items of business coming to the meeting. A major part of the meeting was spent dealing with citizen concerns.

There were concerns about the closure of Wood Street between First Avenue and the river. The concerns had to do with prolonged lack of access to the river for kayakers, lack of handicapped access to a residence, and lack of emergency access. It was reported that the public road was blocked in order for the developer of apartments to do demolition and construction. Council members questioned whether it was necessary for the street still to be closed. A local kayaker explained that for many years Wood Street had been a place kayakers had used for access to the river. The state boat launch was not an option because it required purchase of an annual permit even for a kayak. The borough is not considering any petition to transfer the section of street to the adjoining landowners.

Other residents had concerns about the conversion of a single family home on East Ninth Avenue to a two family home. According to Solicitor Strellec, this is a permitted use in that zone if certain criteria are met, and there is no need for a special action by Council to allow it. The change for that one home is expected to increase congestion on the street where there is already a inadequate parking space for the current residents. There was much discussion of the need to revise the whole zoning ordinance to ensure that it allows and encourages the kind of development the borough wants to see.

Council President Carl Magnetta reported that funding had been obtained to accomplish the dredging of Bull Creek.

There was a letter from a Springdale resident commending the Borough for the Summer Concert Series. It was reported that this was the first year in a long time that the concession stand had shown income at the end of the summer. The sale of food was intended to raise funds for recreation in the Borough.

There was some discussion of a letter from the Highlands School District asking whether the number of crossing guards could be cut. There was very strong feeling about the safety of children particularly around the Ross Street crossing. The Council voted to send a letter saying that Tarentum did not want to cut any crossing guards.

In other actions:

  • Council accepted the resignation of Councilman Bill Rossey effective September 24 in order for him to begin his position as Borough Manager.

  • Council approved an agreement with the Allegheny County Housing Authority for a $50,000 grant for imrpovements to be made in the Dreshar Stadium area in exchange for permitting some well drilling.

  • Council appointed Jeff Adams as Chief Water Plant Coordinator

  • Council approved a policy for the use of Taser guns by the police department.

  • Council appointed three alternate members to the Zoning Hearing Board.

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sonnysarver said...

Central Park you do such a great job on reporting the facts at the council meetings. Much better than the newspaper which once again didn't get the facts correct. I do have one question though....you have no mention of council woman Sopcak. Why? The people of Tarentum need know what is going on. Keep up the good work.

Stewart said...

Sonnysarver, I did not mention Councilwoman Sopcak in this article for a couple reasons.

First of all, she was not present in the meeting.

Second, in her absence there were questions raised about her residence for which I did not and do not have clear answers. I am aware that the answers seem very clear to some of the people of Tarentum, but I agree with what Solicitor Strellec explained to the citizens during the meeting. Whether she is still residing in the Second Ward is a question of fact that would need to be determined by a judge who would receive testimony, and the more evidence one has the stronger the case. Due process should give her the opportunity to present her own testimony about her residence. She has not told me where she is residing, and I have not attempted to contact her about the matter. I have not personally observed what others have told me they have seen, and am waiting for the facts to become more clear.

As to comparing my blog entry to the newspaper article, there were some details that each brought out that were omitted in the other. (If comment on Councilwoman Sopcak is something you value, then give credit to the VND for bringing out that information.)

While the newspaper article may have had some misattributed statements (and my own notes and memory are not good enough to be sure that statements were in fact misattributed), I must point out that in some instances I did not even identify who made statements that I related.

Thank you for the compliment on my writing but I am looking forward to reading Wednesday's VND that may shed some light on all of this.

Anonymous said...


We appreciate your point of view of the meeting on Monday evening, but please give us a break. My husband and I attended the meeting and yes at times you did not know who said what because you were taking a few naps. Sorry, but it's the truth. You must have had a busy day.

The reporter misrepresented Chairman Carl Magnetta by implying that he started the ridiculous conversation about where Ginger is? My husband and I attended one other meeting when she was there and it was a circus. She has something to say about every little thing if there is a reporter there. Even he walked out and that meeting lasted three hours.

Really, who cares where she is . I'm sure Mr. Magnetta is more confortable without her there anyway.

I say that the reporters should tape the meetings if they cannot get the quotes right or obtain a copy of the stenographer's minutes.

It was also Mr. Thomas who talked about the dredging, noy Mr. Rossey.

Don't insult our intelligence. The VND wants to sell more newspapers and by putting fuel on fire they become a rag sheet and everyone knows, they have a world wide circulation.


A Tarentumite from way back.

Thank you for the opportunity to voice my opinion.

Stewart said...

Anonymous, I am sorry if it seemed to you that anything I wrote was an attempt to insult anyone's intelligence. What I wrote about the meeting was about what I thought was important in it.

As to who said what, I agree that President Magnetta did not start the conversation about Councilwoman Sopcak's residence. As to the rest of the quotes in the VND, I was tired and did not stay to follow the reporter around after the meeting to listen in on every conversation he had with council members. For all I know, in some of those conversations council members may have repeated statements made by others earlier in the meeting. If that happened, the published story might be accurate, even if it is not what every observer of the meeting itself heard.

From your comment, I conclude that you don't care where Councilwoman Sopcak is residing. Although I don't think that was a central issue to the meeting, there are some people in town who care about it and it is an issue the VND reported while I did not.

If the VND's goal as you claim is to sell more papers by pushing scandals, they have missed a number of opportunities to become a rag sheet that way.

Anonymous said...


Every citizen who stands to make their concerns known to council must identify themselves so it is very clear who makes what staement. They also must give their home address. All that reporter had to do, was make proper notes. It does not take a rocket scientist?

I do not want to come off as argumentive, but I would hope that they have attended some classes for journalism.

Again, we appreciate your blog.

A Tarentumite.

P.S. We all know that the VND has missed their chance to report scandal. Just go on the prothonary's site and you will see most of the judgements against a certain councilwoman. It is public knowledge.