Rodent and police concerns talking points of meeting
By Jamie Wiggan
The McKees Rocks Council discussed harmful rodent activity, troublesome businesses and police department conduct during a busy Sept. 15 business meeting.
McKees Rocks homeowner Tiaunna Woodson told council she may have to sell her home and leave the borough if she doesn’t get help with a rodent infestation stemming from a nearby vacant property.
“We’re asking for immediate help,” she said.
“My goal is to preserve my home ownership because this keeps the community thriving.”
Woodson said a mischief of rodents living in the vacant building at 1146 Church Avenue have been entering her home since 2017.
Recently forced to spend more time at home due to the quarantine, she said the problem is now unbearable.
Woodson said the issue is affecting the whole 1100 block.
Her written request to address council included more than 30 signatures from nearby residents also concerned by the situation.
“We need something major to happen,” she said.
“Even if it’s just baiting this block to keep us safe.”
Woodson said the rodents, known disease carriers, also cause concern for the health of her teenage son who has a weakened immune system.
“I just want some help and a healthy place to live for me and my child,” she said.
Council President Paul Krisby said the property is earmarked for demolition, telling Woodson borough officials will do what they can to help her in the meantime.
Councilman Archie Brinza assured Woodson he would contact the Allegheny County Health Department to request their support.
“We have to try and go in there and clean it up,” he said.
Councilman Chas Maritz said a number of nuisance businesses have set up shop in McKees Rocks during recent years, and suggested the police department should screen would-be business owners before the borough grants them occupancy permits.
“It seems like there’s a lot of businesses moving into the town that shouldn’t be here,” Maritz said. “I think it’s getting out of hand.”
Maritz said he’s been contacted by several residents with complaints about Epik, an event space that opened on 724 Chartiers Avenue last year, who say they routinely see crowds gathering outside during the early hours of the morning.
“They’re running like a bootleg sort of place, [selling alcohol] with no license, Maritz added after the meeting.
Solicitor Megan Turnbull, of Weiss, Burkardt, Kramer, LLC, said she would look into ways to help council exert more oversight over new businesses, while cautioning against any moves that could lead to discrimination.
“We could probably build a system where more information is gathered,” she said. “[Although we have to be] careful and thoughtful about what we do with that information.”
Responding to questions from councilwoman Leslie Walker, Police Chief Rick Deliman told council his department is up to date on issues raised by recent nation-wide protests.
“I think we’re in front of that,” Deliman said. “…Some of this has been dealt with on the front side and some of it’s been done all along.”
Deliman said since becoming chief he has prioritized building trust and establishing personal relationships between the department and the wider community.
“Can we do a better job? Of course we can always do a better job,” he said.
“If you think there’s something I’m missing or something we can do, recommend it to me… I’ll find a way to get the training.”
Deliman said a Black applicant is currently being considered for a position in the department.
Council resolved to paint fresh yellow lines and erect a no-parking sign outside the Metro By T-Mobile cell phone store in the Lower Chartiers business district.
Specifically, the paint and signage will prohibit parking on the corner space outside the store where Union Way intersects with Chartiers Avenue Councilwoman Sarah Harvey raised the issue, saying Metro customers regularly park there, posing safety concerns for pedestrians and motorists.
Council adopted the motion by acclamation.