Peters to fill seat of longtime official

Robert Atkison died unexpectedly

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Peters council members have begun the sad process of replacing a longtime councilman who died unexpectedly this month.

Calling the death of Robert Atkison an "unfortunate loss" for the township, council members on Monday unanimously declared his at-large seat to be vacant. The declaration is called for in the township's home rule charter, which also requires council to fill the vacancy within a month. Mr. Atkison, 81, died of a heart attack July 7 at his Sherwood Drive home.

Council is seeking residents who are willing to take over Mr. Atkison's responsibilities until at least January -- and possibly longer.

Solicitor William Johnson said he's unsure if the appointed council member would serve until the end of the year or would fill the remainder of Mr. Atkison's term, which expires at the end of 2015.

Applications will be accepted at the township offices on East McMurray Road until Monday. Council is expected to name the replacement in mid-August.

Council also wrestled with finding a solution to an increasingly dangerous speeding situation on Hays Road, where residents have petitioned the township to consider traffic calming measures.

Traffic on the residential street -- which connects East McMurray Road to Route 19 --has been much worse in recent weeks with the closing of the Valleybrook intersection on Route 19 for repairs.

"It's pretty treacherous," said council President Frank Arcuri. "Is there anything we can do?"

Manager Michael Silvestri said the township has put in place signs warning motorists to slow down, along with a device that uses radar to calculate speed so that drivers can see how fast they are traveling.

With traffic double the normal level, it wouldn't be a good time to begin a traffic study, Mr. Silvestri said, though other solutions may alleviate problems.

Mr. Arcuri suggested the use of temporary, movable speed humps to slow down motorists.

"These people need some sort of relief," he said.

Mr. Silvestri said he will research the cost of the speed humps, which could also be used elsewhere in the township.

Council members decided to begin taking action against three of the 14 abandoned and vacant properties, which are becoming eyesores.

Most of the properties are vacant as the result of foreclosures, but banks and other owners have not been responsive in maintaining lawns, pools and yards.

In three cases, conditions are so bad that the township must clean up the area and lien property owners for the expense. Those properties are: 106 Elfwood Drive, 111 Spring Meadows Drive, and 101 Parkwood Lane.

Planning director Ed Zuk said the abandoned Elfwood property is being used by drug dealers, while other sites have hazardous conditions, such as stagnant water in pools.

Council also voted unanimously to support Washington County's application for Pennsylvania and Federal Emergency Management Agency assistance in obtaining grants and loans for cleanup from the July 10 storms. Locally, more than 80 homes and 11 businesses were damaged.

In other business, council:

• Appointed Frank Milfeit to the township zoning hearing board for a term ending in January 2016. Mr. Milfeit replaces board member John Thacik, who is resigning because he's moving.

• Awarded a contract for $26,664 to MXI for the collection of household hazardous waste. Peters will hold a drive on Sept. 28 at the Public Works Garage in Peterswood Park to collect the waste. Residents are encouraged to bring batteries, paint, pesticides, CFL light bulbs and other similar items to the collection site that day. They will be charged $10 for up to 20 pounds of garbage.

• Awarded a contract for $37,728 to Dom Folino Construction to convert an erosion and sedimentation pond on Shoreline Drive in the Hidden Brook housing development into a stormwater management pond with a wood chip path. The project is among the final improvements to be funded through a confiscated bond from the developer.

neigh_south - neigh_washington

Janice Crompton: jcrompton@post-gazette.com or 412-851-1867.


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