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Scottdale Borough attempting to deter use of tobacco

| Wednesday, June 19, 2013, 9:01 p.m.

The Scottdale Borough Council adopted a resolution recently that will attempt to deter tobacco use outside of borough facilities, but is not a ban on tobacco use.

Council unanimously approved a resolution at its June 10 meeting that creates tobacco-free zones on borough facilities by posting signs that read “Young Lungs at Play.”

The resolution came from the program Young Lungs at Play from Penn State Extension out of Westmoreland County and was created to help communities create tobacco free parks, playgrounds and recreational areas for children.

Borough Solicitor Gerald Yanity drafted the resolution and went beyond the playground to incorporate all borough-owned facilities because of events or festivals that could occur outside of parks that could attract children.

“Council is free to trim it back,” Yanity said, but nobody on council suggested any change to the resolution.

Even though signs will eventually appear through the borough to discourage smoking, Yanity said the passed resolution is not a smoking ban as only the commonwealth can establish a ban on tobacco use, which includes the ban of smokeless tobacco as well.

“The borough cannot penalize the use of tobacco,” Yanity said, adding that law enforcement and the public can only inform people that it's a tobacco-free zone and ask them to cease using the tobacco, but they cannot fine or arrest them. “They (the signs) are very effective.”

One resident questioned the language in the resolution where it stated, “Council hereby adopts as the policy of the Borough of Scottdale that all individuals using tobacco in designated tobacco-free zones shall be ejected immediately from such facility.”

Yanity restated that neither a resident nor law enforcement can eject someone from a borough-owned facility if they're found using tobacco products or refuse to stop using tobacco products on a borough-owned facility, but the language was not removed from the resolution.

Borough-owned facilities include seven parks and recreational areas as well as the borough building, the recycling shed, the salt shed and the two fire stations.

Council members absent from the meeting included Joan Brown, June Ostrosky and Troy Soberdash.

Prior to that meeting, the borough held a public hearing concerning the borough receiving Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) money for 2013.

Andrew French, the executive director for the Fayette County Redevelopment Authority, informed the council they're eligible to receive approximately $71,718 in CDBG money after $11,000 is taken out for administrative costs with the redevelopment authority.

The borough entered with a cooperation agreement with the Fayette County Redevelopment Authority to assist them with distribution with CDBG funds as the borough falls under a different eligibility bracket than other municipalities in Westmoreland County because of their size and the percentage of low to moderate income residents.

No members of the public were present to offer suggestions to the council or French about projects they would like the see done, but Scottdale Borough Manager Angelo Pallone suggested two properties that some of the money should be used for demolition are 115 Pittsburgh St. and 300 Walnut Ave.

“I think we have to do something this year,” said Pallone, who added that he has been receiving multiple phone calls about both properties.

While the borough can only use 30 percent of the CDBG funds for demolition projects, French said funds can be modified if the bids they receive exceed the money designated for demolition.

French added the borough also will have to check with the Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission to see if the demolition of either structure would have a negative effect on the area's historic significance.

French said the best-case scenario to get through the steps to demolish the buildings will be between 60 and 90 days with the worst-case scenario between six and nine months.

Council President Andy Pinskey suggested some of the money being used for a crosswalk across Broadway Street between the apartment building that's being constructed and the businesses located across the street.

A second CDBG hearing will take place at council's next regular meeting in July.

Mark Hofmann is a staff writer with Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 724-626-3539 or mhofmann@tribweb.com.

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