“Grill-abration” draws crowd

Hundreds of people from throughout the greater Pittsburgh area visited Bellevue last week for the “grill-abration” protest of a new borough ordinance that, in part, requires people to place their grills at least five feet from a combustible surface.

The ordinance debate this summer resulted in the formation of the “Liberty in Bellevue” group that opposed the ordinance, advocates alcohol sales in the borough, and promises a variety of community and political efforts in the future.

According to one of the LiB organizers, Tom Fodi, the “grill-abration” was the idea of Mayor George Doscher and KDKA talk radio host Marty Griffin, developed during an on-air interview.

“The seed of the idea was planted there,” Fodi said.

Griffin has taken an interest in Bellevue’s outdoor burning ordinance, and his show was aired from Bayne Avenue during the July 12 protest.

According to Fodi, KDKA donated 400 hotdogs and buns, and Griffin also arranged for donations from the owners of a supermarket chain outside the area, as well as a restaurant in Coraopolis owned by the mayor of that borough.

Fodi said that LiB provided paper products, and sold t-shirts and bumper stickers to raise funds for future projects. Other individuals brought food as well, he said. All food and drinks were offered free of charge.

Based on the amount of food served, Fodi estimated attendance at the event was about 600.

Fodi deemed the event a success, as it accomplished LiB’s two main goals, which were to make people aware of the grilling restrictions and the group’s position that they constitute government “over-reaching,” and to draw attention to the borough.

Fodi denied that the event and debate has caused much of that attention to be negative, because, he said, it has shown the region that Bellevue has “a grassroots group of people who love this community” and want to work to make it better.

“We have a lot of ideas, a lot of passionate people,” Fodi said of the group.

LiB currently is working on a residential “spruce-up” project. Fodi said that he is not quite sure how the project will be carried out, but it will involve minor clean-up work at Bellevue properties. Some of the projects on the waiting list have been requested by the property owners, but Fodi said that LiB also will identify properties where work is needed and contact the owners. If it is determined that the neglect is the result of the owner being elderly or handicapped, for instance, volunteers will pitch in to help out.

Although North Hills Community Outreach already offers such a service, Fodi said that the LiB organizers “want to promote who we are and what we do.”

“We want to be more hands-on with our vision of Bellevue,” Fodi said, “not just loud-mouths.”

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