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By Margaret Smyka
Contributing Writer 

South Side LDC plans to move forward in different direction

 

February 17, 2009



— Neighborhood no longer considered ‘distressed'—

The moving forward of the South Side Local Development Company most likely in a new direction, was the topic of the sole presentation at the Feb. 10 meeting of the South Side Planning Forum.

"This is a very positive situation," said Tracy Myers, president of the board of directors of the South Side LDC, who conducted the presentation.

She said due to the strength of the neighborhood, the business model under which the South Side LDC has been operating for the past 20 years is no longer relevant.

Instead, the organization will turn its sights on serving new and emerging neighborhood needs.

"We have a great opportunity here to demonstrate what an organization has to do to sustain its success," she said.

"It's scary, but exciting at the same time," she said, as no other LDC the South Side LDC board is aware of has ever transitioned into an organization devoted to sustaining its success.

She began her presentation by stating the neighborhood has undergone successful revitalization since the South Side LDC began.

As evidence, she pointed to 2000, when the neighborhood was considered "distressed" by federal standards. Today, only two census tracts in the neighborhood are distressed.

Since 2005, foreclosures have decreased, which she labeled "a sign of the growing strength of the neighborhood."

In 2005, at a board of directors retreat, a potential shift in mission for the South Side LDC was discussed by board members for the first time.

In recognition of growing neighborhood needs, it was decided to define the service area as the Slopes and Flats. Other events followed which pointed to a shift of direction.

In April, 2007, the South Side LDC was awarded Main Street achiever status in recognition of the neighborhood's successful revitalization.

In association with that status, the URA funded The International Downtown Association advisory analysis on the sustainability of the neighborhood.

The South Side Neighborhood Plan revision process, which started in the winter of 2007, included a community survey which revealed quality-of-life issues as a high priority.

By the 2007 retreat it seemed clear the South Side LDC should no longer be a partner in construction — except for several Hilltop projects — and that the new priorities should be safety, cleanliness, restitution of the neighborhood image as unique and eclectic, and more.

The conclusion, said Ms. Myers, is that "other issues not related to active physical development is what we have to concentrate on." In the LTV update from a Feb. 3 steering committee meeting, Judy Dyda, manager of community planning/Elm Street manager at the South Side LDC, reported that a "notice to proceed" has been issued for the widening of East Carson St. between 25th and 33rd streets.

The contractor expects to begin work by the beginning of March. That work will start with sewer installation from 26th to 30th streets.

There will be five inspectors on site at all times.

PennDOT will hold a partnering meeting with interested community representatives, contractor, sub-contractors, and utilities on Feb. 24. It is not open to the public.

In SouthSide Works news, the Dick Corporation building is back on the table as financing issues have been resolved. The new design is four stories instead of five, and the company will seek LEED Certification.

Regarding Dolce, which built a "governor's driveway"

in front of the building without permission or permit, Ms. Dyda said the driveway continues to be used despite the community's objections.

City Councilman Bruce Kraus, who was in attendance, said the city police keep issuing tickets, which Dolce pays as it continues to break the law.

"I can't believe the arrogance," he said.

He said PennDOT should be contacted, to which Ms. Dyda said she already has and the agency won't get involved.

Wanda Jankoski, of the South Side Community Council (SSCC), said Dolce is also parking cars on the sidewalk on Saturday nights.

Dolce will likely continue to use the driveway until the widening project, at which time it will have to be removed.

Forum chair Hugh Brannan said Dolce met with the South Side LDC Design Committee in January. The committee offered several suggestions, and sent a letter to Dolce that included expectations, action steps, and a time table. However, Dolce did not follow up.

"It's been a very frustrating experience, and not for lack of trying," he said.

In other news, 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.

Soup bowls and spoons will be starch-based and 100 percent compostable.

Twenty-three restaurants from 10th St. to the South Side Works will be participating.

The $20 VIP Experience includes a reusable grocery tote, recipe booklet, South Side Slopes t-shirt and a VIP only registration area with pastries and coffee.

The fundraiser is presented by First National Bank.

For more information, visit http://www.southsidepgh.com.

On Feb. 23, at 7 p.m ., the SSCC will present "A Meeting with Commander McNeilly" at the Brashear Association. Everyone is welcome. Issues to be discussed with Zone 3 Commander Catherine McNeilly include Zone 3 restructuring, patrols, officers on bicycles, the public's role, and more.

The forum's next meeting will be on March 10.

 

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