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By Margaret Smyka
Contributing Writer 

Slopes to prioritize responsibilities outlined in the latest South Side Neighborhood Plan

 

February 17, 2009



The role of the South Sides Slopes Neighborhood Association in the newly adopted seventh revision of the South Side Neighborhood Plan was the focus of the organization's Feb. 10 meeting.

The plan, which is modified every two years, includes a neighborhood description, development opportunities and constraints, and community issues and recommendations.

The presentation on the plan tasks for which the SSSNA Board accepted responsibility was conducted by Judy Dyda, the manager of community planning/Elm Street manager at the South Side Local Development Company, and who oversaw the plan revision.

The plan, said Ms. Dyda, serves as a guideline for local organizations.

Each organization must now determine its priorities.

To facilitate dialogue, she distributed copies to attendees of the section of the document which lists issues, recommendations/action steps, and the organization lead.

Discussion centered on items for which the SSSNA is listed in the lead category.

Those are issues, she said, which the SSSNA Board felt were important to the Slopes, and therefore vowed to adopt as its responsibility.

If anyone wants to help out on tasks for which the SSSNA is not a lead organization, they have only to inform her, she said, and she will put them in touch with the lead organization.

Ms. Dyda said if an issue is assigned solely to the Planning Forum, it means it is assigned to no one organization.

An action step for which the Planning Forum, South Side Community Council, and the SSSNA are listed as leads is to "establish and maintain ongoing communication between Flats and Slopes stakeholders."

Another issue involving the SSSNA and Planning Forum is "a need for short and long term comprehensive planning in the Slopes area (i.e ., land use, parking, traffic patterns, fire lanes, streets, steps, and signage)."

The recommendation/action step is: "Neighborhood Planning should capitalize on the unique character and views intrinsic to the South Side Slopes."

Board president Brad Palmisiano said the organization has been working on many of the items for quite a while.

He said while it is helpful having community needs formally listed, "We all know the issues already."

Issues involving the SSSNA and SSCC as organizational leads include: parking problems; sporadic and inconsistent maintenance of infrastructure and public parking; lax public safety enforcement; and lack of enforcement of existing codes by the Bureau of Building Inspection and the county Health Department.

Recommended action steps on the latter are: educate residents on what constitutes BBI and Health Code violations; coordinate all BBI citations with information on available assistance programs; approach major universities to fund cost of a designated building inspector for the neighborhood; arrange regular inspection tours with BBI; develop a "problem

properties" list; and work with the city to implement Rental Property Registration/Inspection ordinance.

Regarding South Side Park, the issues include limited access to the top of the park, and limited parking with the exception of the lower section.

"Elm Street [state-funded program that provides funds for public realm improvements] just finished an environmental study of the park," said Ms. Dyda, "as the park is one of our Elm St. priorities."

While the 65 acres are not being used, she said, "the park is a great asset."

Issues involving the SSSNA as the sole organization lead include: concern over possible closing of public steps; limited access to public transit; prior landslides which may continue with lack of maintenance of sharply sloped areas; poor maintenance of the Josephine, Brosville, and 18th streets, Arlington Ave ., and P.J. McArdle roadway corridors; and a lack of response from the railroad on maintenance of trestles and adjoining properties creates a blighted image of key gateways to and corridors through the Slopes.

"Have fun prioritizing," she said at the conclusion of her presentation.

The meeting began with an overview of SSSNA activities and business.

The "welcome bag" program has been instituted for new Slopes residents. Attendees were urged to inform a board member when new neighbors move onto the Slopes. The new neighbors will then receive a "welcome" package.

The membership renewal drive is on, with membership running from Jan. 1 to Dec. 31. The $5 annual fee helps offset the newsletter and operating costs.

The newsletter is in the process of being revamped. The hope is that the new newsletter will be available by the March meeting.

The South Side Mid-Winter Soup Contest will be held from noon to 3 p.m. on Feb. 21. A $5 or $20 donation, plus a can of soup, is required, with proceeds benefitting the Brashear Association Food Pantry. For more information, visit http://www.southsidepgh.com.

A clean-up will be held on March 15. Besides volunteers, community service workers will be utilized. The latter will also be available on March 28 and April 4 for events yet to be determined.

Mission St. is brighter due to 10 new 400-watt lights. Funding was from grants from state Rep. Harry Readshaw and Sen. Jay Costa.

"It makes a fantastic difference," said Mr. Palmisiano.

The next SSSNA meeting will be on March 10 at the St. Paul of the Cross Retreat Center.

Mr. Palmisiano said he is working on having public safety speakers at the meeting, such as a representative of BBI.

 

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