Shade Tree Group Approved, Civil Service Controversy and Other Baldwin Boro Notes
Leftovers from an April 17 council meeting.
Baldwin Formally Enters Shade Tree Commission
Despite saying that the Whitehall Borough Council's urging of the Baldwin Borough Council to support a multi-municipal Shade Tree Commission was "in bad form," Baldwin Councilman Michael Stelmasczyk joined five of his colleagues in supporting the commission, 6-1, on Tuesday night.
But Stelmasczyk made some demands before agreeing to join the commission, demands that Baldwin solicitor Stanley B. Lederman said will still allow Baldwin Borough to be an effective partner in the commission with nearby Whitehall and Brentwood boroughs. (Whitehall has already agreed to join, and Brentwood is expected to join later this month.)
Essentially, Stelmasczyk made changes to the language of a Baldwin bill regarding the Shade Tree Commission—approved, 4-3, on March 20—that further restrict the commission into an advisory-only capacity and take away any power of the commission to use Baldwin funds without approval of the borough's council.
Nevertheless, fellow Councilman John Ferris voted alone against joining the Shade Tree Commission.
"The word 'commission' is exactly what it is," Ferris said. "They can issue debt. I will not support any ordinance with the word 'commission' in it. None."
But Stelmasczyk said that, despite his preference that the Shade Tree Commission actually be called a "committee," the word "commission" alone does not allow for borough spending.
"We have a planning commission, as an example," Stelmasczyk said, "and they can't issue debt without coming to Council."
Stelmasczyk explained that, if the Shade Tree Commission ever tries to spend Baldwin's money without permission from its council, Baldwin can opt-out of the commission at any time.
Brentwood, Baldwin and Whitehall—along with the Pittsburgh neighborhoods of Carrick and Overbrook—are already part of Economic Development South (a multi-municipal planning group for the Route 51 corridor), and the Shade Tree Commission is an extension of that cooperation.
Civil Service Commission Controversy
James Behers joined Baldwin's Civil Service Commission on Tuesday night by edging out incumbent Ann Scott by a 4-3 council vote.
Behers joins former Baldwin Councilman George Raynovich and current Councilman Bob Collet as volunteers on that three-person commission, which is a quasi-judicial board that oversees the Baldwin Borough Police Department, but neither Raynovich nor Collet wanted to see Behers instead of Scott.
Raynovich urged the Baldwin Council at the start of Tuesday's borough meeting to support Scott, whom he says fills her role as the commission's secretary extremely well. Behers, on the other hand, will need to be trained on how the commission operates.
Raynovich said that there is no reason to not renew Scott for another six-year term on the commission and that reappointing incumbents is standard practice in Baldwin.
Stelmasczyk, who voted for Behers, said after the meeting, however, that it has happened before.
Also voting for Behers were Councilmen Ferris, John Conley and David M. Depretis. Voting for Scott were Councilmen Collet, Ed Moeller and Larry Brown.
After the council chose Behers, Raynovich spoke again.
"It is clear to me that the reason Ms. Scott did not get re-elected to the commission is because she was appointed by the previous council," he said, "which you people (Stelmasczyk, Ferris and Depretis) defeated in an election.
"We will lose the benefit of someone who knows the work and is clearly capable of doing it. I'm sorry to see this happen."
Scott, who lives on Elaine Drive and was a borough employee for 18 years, agreed with Raynovich.
"This whole thing was political," she said in an interview after the meeting. "It wasn't for the best interest of the community. It was to be a politician. It's not like I get paid for the job. I do this on my own time."
Behers, a state constable who lives on Green Glen Drive, said that he looks forward to volunteering for his borough on the Civil Service Commission. He begins on May 1.
"I've always been interested in law enforcement," he said. "Needless to say, I'm not going to know what (Scott) knew. She's been (on the commission) for six years already. She's very smart. She's been here. She knows all the rules.
"I'm coming in at the ground level, but I think the biggest qualification I have is common sense.
"I'll be sure and share my time with these gentlemen, and hopefully, we can come together good. I know both of the guys, so it's not like we're going to be enemies or anything because I got it and Ann didn't. I'll be willing to work with the guys and do what I got to do."
Baldwin, Pleasant Hills Officially Swap Pieces of Land
The Baldwin Council unanimously passed an ordinance on Tuesday night to swap pieces of land with nearby Pleasant Hills Borough.
The move pushes a triangular piece of Pleasant Hills property that sits just south of Phillippi Drive and between Brownsville Road and Curry Hollow Road into Baldwin. It also takes a triangular piece of Baldwin property that sits below Yoder Drive and Brownsville and puts it into Pleasant Hills.
"It makes the municipal boundary more linear and less confusing for emergency responders," Baldwin Borough Manager John Barrett said during a March 20 meeting, such as medical, fire, pest control and police officials.
Click here for more details, including a map.
Detective Cortazzo Honored
Read more about Cortazzo's award in this Pittsburgh Post-Gazette article.
Other Baldwin Council Items from Tuesday Night:
- Baldwin Council Decides to Redistribute Fire Funding
- Engineers Designing Crosswalks for Troubled Area of Route 51
- Baldwin Streetlights Eliminations Finally Official
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