Sewickley officials assure residents concerned about suspected meth lab

Friday, September 14, 2018 | 8:33 AM

Concerns that some Sewickley residents have harbored for years came to a head Aug. 18, when a fire broke out in the basement at 806 Hopkins Street and what police allege was a makeshift methamphetamine lab was found.

After the fire, the resident of the home, Stephen P. Mattie Jr., 58, was charged by Sewickley police with operating a meth lab, risking a catastrophe, and several other offenses after the fire. Mattie is awaiting arraignment in Allegheny County court.

At least a dozen residents who live in the area around Hopkins Street attended the Sept. 11 Sewickley council meeting to express concerns about their safety to borough officials.

One Nevin Avenue resident, who asked to remain anonymous due to safety concerns, told council on Sept. 11 that people have raised concerns in the past about suspicious activity in the area and that the response has been inadequate.

“We’re here in the wake of an embarrassing and dangerous incident,” the resident said, “to say clearly ‘enough is enough.’”

Residents who spoke at the council meeting also mentioned that suspected drug activity has gone on for well over a decade in the area and expressed concerns for the safety of children in the neighborhood.

Council President Jeff Neff acknowledged the residents’ concerns and said that Sewickley’s police department has offered to provide additional patrols in the area. Police chief Richard Manko did not respond to a request for comment for this story.

A borough code enforcement officer will also check the property at 806 Hopkins Street to make sure it complies with the necessary ordinances, Neff said.

Although authorities found a suspected meth lab in the home, Sewickley police Sgt. David Mazza said the area around the home wasn’t contaminated after the fire.

“We would never leave a scene if it was still dangerous,” Quinn said at the meeting.

Based on material recovered at the scene, Quinn said the drugs produced at 806 Hopkins Street were likely for personal use by a single individual. He also clarified that the fire was caused by a cigarette, not by any material used to make methamphetamine.

“We’ll do what we can legally, in the power of the borough, to help remediate the situation,” Neff said.

Sam Bojarski is a Tribune-Review contributing writer.