Council Approves New Hauler – Aspinwall Regular Council Meeting Recap for 3-10-2021

Happy to be named a Banner Community by the Allegheny League of Municipalities, Council met for a regular meeting on March 10, 2021, to consider a new waste hauler, review an out-of-compliance curb cut, adopt the LEAD pilot program for Aspinwall, and move forward with a ban on the polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (typically found in asphalt driveway sealants). Council further reviewed the Freeport Road Project.

As many Aspinwall residents know, and have voiced on Facebook, it was probably time for a new waste and garbage hauler in Aspinwall.  During the regular meeting, Council reviewed bids from Shank Waste Service Inc and Waste Management, neither of which included hauling of glass.  It was determined, through conversation with Council’s Solicitor, that Shank Waste Service presented the lowest responsible bid, as its rate per unit was 82 cents less than Waste Management.  With regard to glass, Council is considering retaining a dumpster for glass recycling just as the North Hills community has considered.  Council voted to enter into a one-year contract with Shank Waste Service Inc to begin in the next few months. 

Most Aspinwall residents only notice a particular “curb cut” when they are trying to find a good place to park and are avoiding blocking a driveway, but Council on Wednesday night considered what to do with an out-of-compliance curb cut.  For background, a “curb cut,” according to Meriam Webster, is a “ramp cut into a street curb to provide access (as for wheelchairs or strollers) between a sidewalk and the street.”  Essentially in this case, it seemed to be a driveway that a Virginia Avenue homeowner had recently installed. 

The homeowner had submitted an application for a building permit in October of 2018 and was granted a 12-foot curb cut, however, when construction ended and the ‘dust settled’ as they say, the driveway had a 25-foot curb cut.  Council spent a considerable amount of time reviewing their previous decisions to limit curb cuts, noting that this curb cut doubled what they had previously permitted, analyzing the effect of remedial efforts on the property and a wall on the property, noting the aesthetics of the curb cut, and considering how this curb cut would affect Aspinwall’s potential plans for the future.  The homeowner, Graham Rihn, indicated that while the original permit included a 12 foot curb cut, his construction plans had utilized a 25 foot curb cut and these same plans were submitted to the Borough.  The Borough Manager indicated that Borough did not expect the homeowner to exceed the scope of their permit when they submitted the plans.  Ultimately determining a fine or penalty would not act to resolve the issue, Council voted in a 5-2 decision to remediate the curb cut to the original 12 feet.   

The Chief of Police, David Nemec, was present during the meeting to report on a Speed Summary that had been conducted over the past few weeks.  According to Chief Nemec, a return to monitoring Center Avenue is required since it has become a problem again.  He noted that the police force had pulled over a number of cars on Center this previous week. 

Marcia Cooper made a motion to pass the LEAD Pilot Program that would allow Aspinwall access to a social worker in situations where a police officer may not be the best responder to an incident.  Councilmember Cooper noted that the program will not start immediately but will take some time to implement. 

David Brown made a motion to ban polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons in our community.  Council voted to move forward with the ban, and it was noted that the proposed ban will be advertised.  Council began to consider the best way to notify driveway owners who would most likely be affected by the ban. 

This is a photo of the larger baseball field in Aspinwall’s Park. In the winter months, this area acts as a dog park.

Briefly, it was stated that at this time, the baseball field in Aspinwall will remain a baseball field (as opposed to a dog park) in the summer months despite some resident comments that a larger dog park in the summertime would be nice for their dogs.  Councilperson Jeff Harris indicated that Aspinwall has one of three fields that particular types of teams can play on in the area.  The issue of a larger dog park can be dealt with in Aspinwall’s Comprehensive Plan. 

Tim McLaughlin shared an update from Sarah Shaffer on behalf of Aspinwall Neighbors, reminding residents of the Porch Toast Anniversary on March 20th at 5pm. (Amended for Clarification that Aspinwall Neighbors is having the Porch Toast).

During the meeting Council did return to the Freeport Road issue.  Council (through a President’s Comment) took time to further discuss the Freeport Road Project.  Councilmembers made clear that the presentation on March 3, 2021, went over a more expansive study that was rooted in the previous August 2019 study.  Council also noted that significant funding for these studies had come out of a grant that Aspinwall resident, Mark Ellermeyer, had worked for and received for the community.  Council made clear that while changes to bicycle traffic were suggested as a remedial effort in our borough, these were far from the only changes recommended.  It was noted that bicycles “weren’t going away” and rerouting the bicycle travelers through the Borough could provide a safer alternative.  This alternative would likely be better than allowing them to travel on Freeport Road and failing to control the routes bicyclists may otherwise take through Aspinwall.  It was generally agreed by Council that they should identify specific portions of the study to incorporate in the Aspinwall. 

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