Deer, student parking once again stir ire in Mt. Lebanon – Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
It may have been Valentine’s Day, but there was little love in the room Tuesday as Mt. Lebanon commissioners received a tongue lashing from residents irate over two contentious issues.
After hearing disappointing results about this season’s controlled archery hunt of whitetail deer, commissioners learned that efforts three months ago to alleviate parking by students on residential streets had failed.
Although 104 deer were killed during the same time last year, municipal manager Keith McGill said only 36 deer were killed in this season’s archery hunt by wildlife management company White Buffalo, which was paid $9,000 to organize the hunt. A sharpshooting phase of the deer management program is slated to begin within days.
“That’s a significant drop from last year,” he told commissioners.
Mr. McGill said expectations were lower this year because archery hunting was being done in many of the same areas as last year. Data from neighboring Upper St. Clair showed similar anemic results in the second year of an archery hunt there, with 12 deer killed this year compared with 67 last year.
Still, Mt. Lebanon hoped to increase the number of deer killed by adding acreage at Twin Hills Park to the hunt, he said. Brisk human activity at the park, however, prevented hunters from using that area.
“They did not remove one deer from Twin Hills Park,” Mr. McGill said.
“I was surprised it went down that much,” commission president Dave Brumfield said. “We expected it to go down a little.”
According to the report, available at www.mtlebanon.org, archers hunted in 16 public areas and 17 private properties and donated 855 pounds of venison to area food banks.
Despite culling during the past two years, deer/vehicle crashes in Mt. Lebanon rose from 73 in 2015 to 122 last year. In contrast, animal control officers reported picking up 88 dead deer last year from roadways, compared with 127 the year before.
“We were hopeful to see a reduction in the deer/vehicular collisions,” Mr. McGill said. A reduction in deer/vehicle crashes is the stated goal of the deer management program, which has been controversial.
Resident Barbara Sollenberger questioned the conflicting data.
Mr. Brumfield said he had no explanation for the discrepancy but suggested that multiple callers may be phoning 911 to report the same accident. Police gather data on accidents by reviewing emergency calls.
Commissioners in November approved paying $83,477 to White Buffalo to cull up to 100 more deer in a sharpshooting program that’s set to start soon.
Hunters have begun setting out bait to lure the deer onto about 12 private properties and four public locations — McNeilly Park, Mt. Lebanon Golf Course, Robb Hollow Park and the conservation district on Connor Road.
Sharpshooting on public lands will be conducted for about two weeks from 6 to 11 p.m. Monday through Friday and on private land from 4 to 11 p.m. seven days a week.
Also Tuesday, commissioners revised an earlier decision to curtail parking near Mt. Lebanon High School in response to complaints from residents in the area. Parking at the school has been restricted due to construction
The earlier measure, which began Jan. 1, prohibited parking on parts of Lebanon Hills Drive and Main Entrance Drive, from Washington Road to Circle Drive, from 7 to 9 a.m. school days for a trial period of six months.
The restrictions were a compromise engineered by commissioners after a larger area was first suggested by municipal traffic engineers, and the issue was to be revisited next month.
But many of the same residents who asked for the restrictions in November returned Tuesday to say that a larger area needs to be restricted — and that they need relief now.
“I open my bedroom window every morning to a sea of cars,” said Lebanon Hills Drive resident Bill Ferari, one of the residents who told commissioners that the same 25 to 30 cars have been parking on both sides of his street since the restrictions went into place. The narrowing roadway has created a safety hazard for drivers and pedestrians, he said.
“What was once a quiet street is now a parking lot,” resident Mark Furry said. “It looks like South Hills Village at Christmastime.”
High school principal Brian McFeeley told commissioners that, although the school district has an agreement allowing students to park at Mt. Lebanon United Lutheran Church on Washington Road while renovations are underway at the high school, about 30 parking spots at the church are unused by students every day.
Students previously told commissioners that they often don’t use the church lot because getting out of the lot at the end of the day is difficult and left turns aren’t allowed.
“All we’ve done is push people down the street and created further headaches,” Mr. Brumfield said.
After discussion, commissioners voted 4-0, with Commissioner Kelly Fraasch absent, to implement the original strategy, which will temporarily restrict parking on a larger swath of Main Entrance Drive, Outlook Drive and Lebanon Hills Drive from 7 a.m. to 9 p.m. on school days. Restrictions will take effect as soon as signs can be installed.
Commissioners will revisit the issue at the end of March and are expected to lift the restriction in May or June, when the south parking lot at the high school will reopen to student parking.
In the meantime, the municipality may open the parking lots at Dixon Field on Cedar Boulevard and Main Park behind the high school, if necessary.
Janice Crompton: firstname.lastname@example.org, 412-263-1159 or on Twitter @janicecrompton.