The introduction of a new president and a prospective development project headlined last week's South Sides Slopes Neighborhood Association meeting.
President Bev Boggio began by reporting on last month's annual elections, which resulted in new SSSNA board members Father Don Ware, Paul Lorincy, and Kate Fink. The terms are for 2 years except for Lorincy, whose term is 1 year.
The new president is Brad Palmisiano, while Joe Balaban remains vice-president and Claudia Hart is the new treasurer. A secretary will be chosen at the next board meeting.
Boggio then sat in the audience as Palmisiano, as president, took charge of the meeting.
He began by thanking Boggio for her four years as president, and her role as a founding member of the organization. She remains a board member.
As for himself, Palmisiano, 26, said he moved to Pius St. two years ago, which also marks his involvement in the SSSNA.
A priority of his will be to try to recruit more members. “We need to go out and sell to our neighbors,” he said, as that will lead to a stronger organization.
An “outreach” example he cited was Betty Kripp's “Welcome Bag Program,” in which new residents receive bags of information and news about the neighborhood.
Community gardens and clean-ups help the neighborhood while also providing social interaction. As they live in a dense area, communication among neighbors is critical for quality of life.
Palmisiano said he wants the group to continue being “the voice of the South Side Slopes”, with attendance at zoning meetings, etc., and building a relationship with Mayor-elect Bob O'Connor.
As a strong voice, Palmisiano said, the SSSNA can push the city for clean-ups, salt boxes, etc., for which they have been successful in the past.
Members then voted to pass his first motion, which was changing the fiscal year in the by-laws to aline with the Internal Revenue Service. The new fiscal year will be Jan. 1 to Dec. 31.
Next, Palmisiano announced that $9,000 awarded to the SSSNA from the city's “Neighborhood Needs” funds must be used by the end of the year to light the 10th St. footbridge.
The SSSNA will pay the cost, and be reimbursed by the city.
That “good” footbridge news was followed by the “bad” news that the lighting for the 15th St. footbridge was vandalized. The SSSNA is paying to repair it.
Balaban said they want to replace the lights, and find ways to ensure it does not happen again.
A possible solution is to act like a block watch, and alert 911 when activity is spotted at the footbridges.
Next, Boggio said she met with Kevin Hanley, manager of real estate and housing programs at the South Side Local Development Co., about the Elm Street program.
The idea behind the program is that healthy neighborhoods can be created when there is a small commercial corridor and a residential area that are well connected.
A single application was submitted to the state last month to cover five neighborhoods: South Side Slopes, Friendship, East Allegheny, East Liberty, and Lawrenceville.
Attaining designation as an Elm Street district would make the Slopes eligible for grant monies for public realm improvements.
In anticipation of being approved, Hanley suggested that the SSSNA identify areas for the street trees and trash receptacles listed in the application. Call or email Boggio with suggestions on sites: 412-488-0486, or email@example.com.
The evening's guest presenter was Sola M. Talabi, who hopes to build eight, four-story townhouses on property he owns at the triangle corner of S. 18th and Josephine streets.
The development, called “Alta Vista @ the South Side,” would be built in two phases: the first, construction of six townhouses facing Josephine St.; the second, construction of two townhouses facing 18th St.
The primary focus of his company, Alta Vista Development Co., is converting vacant and distressed lots into residential homes.
The project's zoning variances have been approved. Once he secures financing, Talabi plans to start construction, perhaps as early as next month.
He attended the SSSNA meeting to meet local residents, and to hear concerns.
Each home will contain three bedrooms, two-and-a-half baths, and a two-car garage. Driveways will be sloped.
The tentative price per unit will be less than $250,000. Talabi plans to reside in one of the homes.
The billboards on the site will remain initially, but he's working on having them removed. The trees will be cut down and replaced with new ones in front of each house.
Audience members expressed concerns about the sharp corner, and its danger for motorists backing out of the new driveways. It was also suggested that the brick and siding vary in color and style among the units for variety.
Talabi said he will address both issues.
This is the first development project for Talabi, who was born and raised in Nigeria. He came to Pittsburgh in 1997, eventually graduating from the University of Pittsburgh with a BSc. in mechanical engineering.
In 2004 he graduated from Carnegie Mellon University with an MSc. in mechanical engineering. He is currently a full-time student at CMU working toward an MBA.
The next SSSNA meeting will be a holiday party and dinner on December 13 at 7 p.m. in the St. Paul of the Cross Retreat Center. Everyone and their families are welcome. If you want to bring a food item, contact Janice Serra at: janice. firstname.lastname@example.org.
Volunteer awards will be presented at the meeting.