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City of Pittsburgh plagued by illegal dumping at 276 known sites

| Monday, Sept. 30, 2013, 12:08 a.m.
Keith Hodan | Tribune-Review
Mark Anthony and Paula DeMarta Mastroianni stand near their home on Bernhardt Way, Friday, Sept. 27, 2013, amidst bags of trash and other garbage. The friends are upset at all the trash illegally thrown along the road and wooded hillside. DeMarta Mastroianni, who recently moved here from New York City, designed a poster to discourage littering and draw attention to the problem.
Keith Hodan | Tribune-Review
Mark Anthony and Paula DeMarta Mastroianni are upset at the trash and litter thrown near their home on Bernhardt Way on Friday, Sept. 27, 2013. The friends are upset at all the trash illegally thrown along the road and wooded hillside.

The sign warns of a $10,000 fine for illegal dumping, but the hillside behind it is littered with years of accumulated trash that people have tossed along Webster Avenue in the Upper Hill District.

Today, residents are sick of the garbage. They say they live in a no-man's land, where the Upper Hill and Polish Hill neighborhoods of Pittsburgh converge, that gets little attention from city maintenance crews. Calls to the city go unheeded, they say.

“They should get (Councilman) Bill Peduto to get that sweeper he used in his ads to come down here and clean up the streets,” said Paulette Carrieri, 61, who lives on Ridgeway Street in the neighborhood, referencing the campaign ad aired by the mayoral candidate last spring.

Pittsburgh has 276 known dump sites scattered across the city that volunteers clean up periodically, but they get trashed again and again, Public Works Director Rob Kaczorowski said. He said Anti-litter Coordinator Melissa Rosenfeld is working on getting cameras to monitor the sites.

“The chances of catching somebody are slim and none unless we have something like cameras,” he said. “A place on my street is like that. People will throw out pizza boxes and all kinds of stuff. Sometimes, I find deer carcasses down there.”

The Upper Hill tops that.

“Five or six years ago on Webster Avenue they found a (live) goat tied to a telephone pole. A goat!” said Carla Frizzi, 65.

City Councilman R. Daniel Lavelle, who lives in the Upper Hill and represents the neighborhood, did not return a phone call.

A hillside below Webster along Balboa Street is littered with trash ranging from bottles and condom wrappers to a toddler's wading pool. Somebody dumped nine garbage bags filled with plastic pipe and wood cuttings on Bernhardt Way.

Longtime residents of Ridgeway said they gave up complaining to the city years ago and pick up after the litterbugs themselves.

“It's a sin what they do. How they get away with it, I don't know,” said Rocco Carrieri, 66, Paulette's husband. “You get no help from the city at all.”

City officials said it's almost impossible to nab offenders. They often dump the trash at night in isolated areas and escape unseen.

Kaczorowski said he would have a crew pick up the garbage bags on Bernhardt. He said residents should call 911 immediately if they see someone littering.

The irony is that city residents don't have to litter.

Pittsburgh offers free garbage pickup weekly and will take items such as furniture and appliances. Residents can deposit tires, leaves, grass clippings and scrap metal for free at drop-off centers in Homewood, Hazelwood and Elliott.

Council District 7, which covers Polish Hill, hasn't had a representative since July when Patrick Dowd resigned to take another job, but the office remains staffed. Communications director Nate Hanson encouraged people to call the office at 412-255-2140 with littering complaints.

“We can usually work with the community to try and address it,” Hanson said.

Bob Bauder is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-765-2312 or bbauder@tribweb.com.

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