Turtle Creek Mayor Adam Forgie said that in order to fix the problems in the borough of 6,400 people, he needs to see them.
Three weeks ago, he began what he calls the "Walk and Talk" initiative -- residents can call the mayor's office and schedule a tour of their street with Mr. Forgie, during which they can point out and discuss concerns.
Mr. Forgie, who grew up in Turtle Creek and is now a history teacher at the Woodland Hills Academy in the borough, said the complaints from residents range from unkempt lawns to drug deals in alleys.
While an overgrown yard might seem minor, the mayor said he understands residents' frustration.
"You cut your lawn, then the person next to you doesn't cut their lawn," he said.
On a walk last week, he said, residents expressed concern about trash collecting around a property. Mr. Forgie said a call was placed to the landlord, and now the trash is cleaned up.
"It was a simple fix," he said. "He's all over it now."
Mr. Forgie said the walks are more effective than a resident calling his office because he can see the problems and ensure the complaint is directed to the proper department.
He said there's a communication gap between new and old Turtle Creek residents, and he hopes to help bridge that gap by being more visible in the community and getting residents to talk to one another.
"If I can be that link between the new generation of Turtle Creek citizens and the old," he said, that could have a positive impact on the community.
On Monday, Mr. Forgie met with five residents in the 400 block of George Street, where his grandmother once lived, for his third "Walk and Talk." He said two more are scheduled for next week.
Mr. Forgie and the residents, walked through the alleys behind both sides of George Street, pointing out problems.
The first issue they noted was an overgrown tree and a collapsing garage. Mr. Forgie took notes on a small pad of paper and snapped photos with his phone.
He said he would send letters to residents of the entire block to remind them of ordinances about garbage collection and overgrown vegetation. He told the walkers that because he never drives down that alley, he never would have known about the problem.
In the alley on the other side of George Street, resident Dan Connolly told Mr. Forgie he'd been cutting weeds outside his property line to prevent the unpaved thoroughfare from becoming overgrown.
At the end of the alley, residents pointed out an old retaining wall and said that because water drains off the wall, wintertime ice builds up on a steep alley leading back to George Street. Mr. Forgie jotted down a note and told the residents he'd report the issue to the street department.
The residents reported that drug deals, which used to be frequent in the alley, have stopped since increased police patrols in the area.
Mr. Forgie said a lot of the crime and neglect in the borough happens in the alleys, but they're hard to monitor.
"It's almost impossible to justify a cop sitting in an alley," he said, explaining only two officers are patrolling the borough at any given time.
The residents also pointed out a flat-screen television propped up against the side of a building.
Mr. Forgie said a lot of residents don't know garbage collectors won't take electronics. He said something as simple as an electronics drop-off event in the borough could help ameliorate that issue.
The tour lasted less than an hour, but the residents, all of whom are active in the neighborhood crime watch, thanked the mayor for his time.
On the way back to his car, Mr. Forgie knelt down to pluck a nail off the road.
He opted not to run for mayor this year, saying he wanted to focus on his family, and his term ends in January. He hopes the next mayor continues the "Walk and Talk" program, he said.
To schedule a "Walk and Talk" tour with Mr. Forgie, call 412-823-0154 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Annie Siebert: email@example.com or 412-263-1613. Twitter: @AnnieSiebert.