City Council: Duquesne Light meeting postponed / Perry Hilltop, Fineview receive surveillance funds


Councilwoman Darlene Harris of District 1 postponed a post-agenda meeting scheduled for today to discuss the ongoing negotiations with Duquesne Light over the utility’s planned construction of a cooling station in East Park.

“Depending on where we’re at with the talks, I’d rather wait to have the legal issues over with,” Harris said.

The city’s law department is currently negotiating with Duquesne Light, who believes they have the right to build a utility structure for the cooling of underground transmission lines along Cedar Avenue in the park, a development that irks Northside residents who view it as an ugly misuse of public property.

This was the second post-agenda meeting that Harris postponed. Post-agenda meetings are special sessions where City Council invites principle stakeholders, in this case Citiparks, Public Works and Duquesne Light, to the council chamber to educate members on the details of a situation.

“I’m just hoping that everything can be resolved with the relationships we already have with [Duquesne Light],” Harris said. “If necessary, we will have a public hearing."

Harris has had direct talks with Duquesne Light and the law department as recently as yesterday, and she foresees scheduling a post-agenda meeting for sometime in the next few weeks. The meeting will be televised and open to the public.

Fineview and Perry Hilltop to receive funds toward surveillance equipment

City Council approved a motion by Darlene Harris this morning to allocate $2,750 each to the Perry Hilltop Citizens’ Council and the Fineview Citizens Council for surveillance cameras and equipment; about half of what each community group needs to purchase the equipment for their neighborhoods.

Harris said it is her vision to have surveillance equipment in every neighborhood in District 1, which covers the eastern and northern sections of the Northside, to guard against neighborhood ills like drug dealing and violent crime. She has already given funding to the community councils of Troy Hill, Observatory Hill, Brighton Heights and a few others for similar equipment.

Fineview and Perry Hilltop share the distinction of being split between two council districts — Harris’s District 1 and Tonya Payne’s District 6. Because she only serves small portions of each district, Harris decided to allot half the cost of the $5,500 equipment to each neighborhood council.

Both Walt Spak, president of the Fineview Citizens Council, and Janet Gunter of the Perry Hilltop Citizens’ Council, expressed excitement at receiving half the necessary funds. Both groups have lobbied city government for surveillance equipment for the better part of a year.

Gunter said Perry Hilltop Citizens’ Council has met with both councilwomen within the last month and discussed the need for surveillance cameras.

“We met with [Payne] within the last month. She sounded like she would pursue it. But we asked for many things, this was just one of the items on the agenda,” Gunter said.

Councilwoman Payne said the City Information Services Department, charged with installing the cameras, has had issues with Duquesne Light not wanting cameras installed on their electric poles. She said this is why the Central Northside and Manchester don’t have cameras in place, though they have already received the necessary funding.

“I’m probably going to split it with the Mayor’s Office, I just got to refresh his memory,” Payne said, referring to a deal she had made with Mayor Ravenstahl. Rather than matching what Harris gave, Payne said she would match the amount the mayor allots.

“Probably, he’ll buy a camera, and I’ll buy a camera,” said Payne, who guessed that the funds should be available by the first or second week in November.

“Time is running out, so I have to act expeditiously."

Gunter said curbing the violence near the intersection of Charles Street and Perrysville Avenue would be the council’s first move.

“That’s the main spot. We have specified a couple of other places, but that was the highest on our priority,” she said.

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