On Thursday, November 9th, the Lawrenceville Happenings Meeting was hosted at Goodwill’s Workforce Development offices (118 52nd St) from 6:30-8 PM by Lawrenceville United and Lawrenceville Corporation. This meeting was hosted in-person with 14 attendees and online via Facebook Live to roughly 16 attendees throughout the meeting. The focus of this Happenings was on neighborhood trash which has been an ongoing problem for residents and businesses.
LU and LC invited the Department of Public Works (DPW)/Environmental Services, Animal Care & Control, and the Mayor’s Office to present and to contribute to the discussion on trash. A focus was on residential experiences and touched on the business district as well.
The meeting opened with introductions from Emma Gamble, the Community Engagement and Program Manager at LU, and Sarah Trbovic, Executive Director at LC. They shared an overview of their organizations and an agenda for the meeting. Emma gave background to what inspired this conversation on trash. Lawrenceville’s housing being so dense has led to trash/recycling sitting out all week on sidewalks causing mobility and vermin issues for many. As Butler St has gained popularity as well, the weekend trash has increased along the business district. 10th Ward neighbors have led campaigns to keep the streets clear and many business owners have too, so this conversation is building on the work they began.
LU and LC then invited Eric Contakos an Inspections Supervisor with DPW to present on their department’s work. Mr. Contakos team is responsible for all 311 complaints that come in related to “Refuse Violations”. His department seeks to respond as soon as possible, and issue citations when appropriate. In the case of neighborhood trash in Lawrenceville, Mr. Contakos did note that in City Code it is required to not have trash visible on non-garbage pick up days; however, if a resident is unable to get their trash from their backyard/back area to the sidewalk without going through their home, they will not be cited. This is an acknowledgement that their is a reasonable challenge presented to the resident, and in that case, often those residents are told to keep their trash/recycling cans against their residence and covered.
There was a brief question and answer period following Mr. Contakos presentation, but due to the many speakers present, the Q&A was paused until the end of the presentations. Next, Christopher Mitchell an Anti-Litter Specialist from DPW Environmental Services presented on his department. He discussed that the Environmental Services team is going through changes to improve their systems and developing divisions to clean up blighted properties and tagging throughout the city. The department is digitizing their routes which are currently still using paper binders to improve efficiency and are seeing 311’s related to trash be dealt with more quickly as a result of Mr. Contakos’ team. Although litter can never be fully done away with, Mr. Mitchell said the City can always improve, and welcome all feedback.
Following Mr. Mitchell, the Animal Care and Control team which included Carolie Campobasso and Officer Aaron Young presented on their department’s role in this conversation. Both of them discussed the rodent baiting program that can be requested if you see rats/mice around your property. The rodent baits should not be requested as a preemptive measure, because that could result in the undesired outcome of attracting rodents towards your property. Officer Young addressed the need for secure lids on all trash receptacles to deter nuisance wildlife. If you do have issues with rodents and/or nuisance wildlife, you can contact the AC&C office at 412-255-2036.
The presentations conclude with the Community Liaison, Ashley Bryant, from the Mayor’s Office. Ms. Bryant shared the following information:
- 311 is currently hiring for Call Center Representatives,
- Pittsburgh Regional Transit is hosting two virtual sessions (on 11/14 and 11/16) regarding bus line redesigns, and
- The Whole Home Repairs application will be open until Friday (11/17) for homeowners who live in a house needing repairs in Allegheny County. Their home must have significant habitability concerns, and the applicant must have a household income that doesn’t exceed 80% of the Area Median Income (AMI) for Allegheny County.
The Q&A was then open to in-person and virtual attendees and led to a lively discussion regarding trash concerns. Some of the main themes of the questions are listed as follows:
- Dealing with blighted properties in the neighborhood
- Ensuring landlords provide tenants with the proper receptacles
- Solutions to keeping receptacles out all week
- Addressing rodents
- And more (please see video for full discussion)
The meeting closed with a call to action for residents to continue using 311 and cite “Refuse Violations” when it comes to trash concerns, to participate in Garbage Olympics, and to organize neighbors for clean ups as a community bonding activity (see link below). If you would like to get involved or have questions/concerns, please email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 412-802-7220. You can watch the meeting, review the PowerPoint, and get involved in neighbor trash clean ups by using the link below.