Ordinance opens Mt. Lebanon's Twin Hills Trails Park to pets

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Pet owners can now legally walk their dogs in Twin Hills Trails Park in Mt. Lebanon after commissioners unanimously approved an ordinance Monday to allow dogs in the park. The pets had been banned because Twin Hills was never added to the list of municipal parks where dogs were permitted when Mt. Lebanon bought the land at the community's northern border with Scott in 1995.

Residents, many of them dog owners, said they were unaware of the restriction until a sign was placed at the park's entrance earlier this year. Many contacted municipal officials expressing their displeasure, and commissioners agreed to expedite a new ordinance.

Commissioner Kristen Linfante said all dogs taken into the park must be on leashes. "That is something that always has been in our ordinances," she said.

Commissioners also discussed the possibility of establishing a park specifically for dogs in Robb Hollow Park, off Cedar Boulevard near the municipal public works facility. A recent municipal bond issue earmarks some money toward improving Robb Hollow.

Commissioner Kelly Fraasch suggested forming a group of residents, similar to the Friends of Mt. Lebanon Public Library, to maintain a park once it is established.

Mrs. Fraasch has been spearheading efforts to open a dog park, writing on her blog: "This could alleviate any stress on our local parks/parklets, and rather than going to South Park, residents can drive or hopefully walk over to Robb Hollow to take their friendly pooches to the park for a play date. With community input, commissioners would have to look at other dog parks in the area/region/nationally for how various dog parks are run and maintained long-term."

Parkview Drive residents Jude Ernest and Kristen Westbrook attended Monday's meeting to urge commissioners to move along with the process.

"There's nowhere to walk our dogs," Ms. Westbrook said. "We really, really need this for Mt. Lebanon."

Ms. Ernest cited safety concerns.

"We, as dog walkers, are the last thing people look out for," she said about motorists.

The women have started an online petition, "Mt. Lebanon needs a safe dog park," which had drawn about 100 signatures as of earlier this week.

Also on Monday:

• Commissioners discussed a proposed ordinance to establish a residential rental property registration and inspection program.

The measure, which would require inspection of all rental units on a three-year rotation, has drawn criticism from landlords and some tenants, particularly about privacy issues.

Commissioner David Brumfield has suggested paring down the number of items to be included in an inspection to some basic safety considerations for mutual protection of tenants.

"We're protecting you from your neighbor, who otherwise could put you at risk," he said.

Commissioner John Bendel questioned the need for the ordinance as written, recommending commissioners further review the measure.

"It seems a bit heavy, after listening to all the information," Mr. Bendel said.

Solicitor Philip Weis has already revised the ordinance, prompting the need for a second round of public hearings on the matter.

• Commissioners awarded a $1.9 million contract to low bidder Niando Construction Inc. of Penn Hills for reconstruction of the following streets: Catalpa Place, Cypress Way and Elatan, Jefferson, Kurt, Moreland, Northridge, Valleyview and Woodland drives.


Harry Funk, freelance writer: suburbanliving@post-gazette.com.


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