PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — There’s a lot of finger pointing, but very little action on some sewer problems that are affecting two businesses on Forbes Avenue.
The business owners blame development for the mess, but the city says the businesses are responsible.
It’s a serious problem with dozens of jobs and hundreds of thousands of dollars at stake.
A horrible sewage back-up has already shut down the popular Penn Avenue Fish Company on Forbes Avenue, and the Courthouse Tavern is about to close its doors.
Normally, the tables are filled during the lunch hour at Penn Avenue Fish Company, but now it’s empty. A dozen employees are laid off and a stench fills the air.
“We’ve had to shut down the entire week ‘cause the basement had a couple of inches of water there,” Chef Josh Shaimis, of Penn Avenue Fish, said. “We got it all cleared out. We thought the issue was solved. Then a couple of weeks after that, the same problem starts all over again.”
More than just water was found in the basement. There’s raw sewage down there, and the building’s owner, Mike Clements, is exasperated.
“I keep getting ‘can’t, won’t, don’t know,’” he said. “That’s not the answer you need when you’re in a financial and sewage tsunami.”
Clements blames a $6 million project to rebuild part of Forbes Avenue for his nasty problem. He claims he never had the problem before, but the city says that’s not true.
“The work that was done on the roadway, at least thus far, doesn’t appear to us to cause this issue,” Kevin Acklin, the mayor’s chief of staff, said. “But it’s not a city issue.”
Contractor Anthony Merante echoes the city. He told KDKA’s Paul Martino, “Construction did not affect it… It had nothing to do with it.”
Merante added it was a “pre-existing problem” and said, “If construction had anything to do with it, it would have been fixed.”
But you can’t convince the folks next door at the Courthouse Tavern. They’re being forced to close too because of the same sewer back-up.
“It’s continuous,” Jerred Kelly, with the Courthouse Tavern, said. “It’s something we have to deal with every day. Our owner constantly has plumbers here every single day, snaking the drains.”
It’s going to cost tens of thousands of dollars to fix the problem. In the meantime, as the businesses close, they’re losing tens of thousands of dollars.
The city has stepped in to try to mediate a solution between the contractor and the buildings’ owners, but so far, neither side can agree.