Ben Avon residents are concerned about Park Avenue

Residents of Ben Avon are unhappy with the condition of some row houses along Park Avenue in the borough, and approached council about the problem at Tuesday's meeting. 

John Littell, who lives in Ohio Township but owns property on Park, brought to the meeting pictures he had taken and told council about some of the conditions. He said as a result of recent heavy rains, mud has been running down the hill into one of his basements. Littell also mentioned nails and glass lying around, and the danger to children in the neighborhood, among other things.

Council members are aware of some of the problems because they previously have taken action against the owner. They received complaints in the past that doors or windows were open and/or broken in the houses, and residents were concerned about unauthorized people getting in. Others complained about seeing stray cats roaming around the houses and possibly breeding.

Two years ago, in May 2007, Jeff Garbinski, who owns the property, approached council with plans to have five buildings, including 19 apartments and one duplex, on Park Avenue renovated and turned into 19 affordable housing units. However, since that time, very little has been done to the property. One member of council told residents that after Garbinski started the work, he became ill and could not continue, and progress has since been sporadic.

The owner has received notice from the Allegheny County Health Depart-ment to get the property cleaned up, but members of council said that he has repeatedly received extensions.

At Tuesday's meeting, council unanimously agreed to set up a committee to get the problem resolved. President Ken Opipery Jr. was absent.

Council members Sue Weiss, Todd Smith and Dan Herchenroether, along with building inspector Fred Sapp and attorney Megan Ott, will work together on the committee. Herchenroether commented, "I've been on council for 18 months and I haven't seen anything done about (the problem). I'm embarrassed about it."

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