By Tom Smith
South Pittsburgh Reporter Editor 

Mayor responds to MACSS recommendations


Mayor Luke Ravenstahl came to the Hofbräuhaus last week to address members of the South Side Chamber of Commerce about some of his goals and visions for the South Side.

Specifically he talked about his Taking Care of Business Program and the recommendations the Mayor's Advisory Committee for the South Side (MACSS) recently made to his office.

The mayor formed MACSS two years ago in response to a public outcry and town meeting about cascading out of control nightlife in South Side. The committee of neighborhood residents, community leaders and business people has met monthly and recently made recommendations to the mayor.

Mayor Ravenstahl said in the short term, the saturation patrols from several summers ago helped and he will talk to Chief of Police Nate Harper to determine if the South Side patrols are feasible again. In the meantime, he said, the city will continue to monitor liquor licenses in the South Side.

He said the city's law department is committed to defend the policy of limiting liquor licenses in the East Carson business district.

"We understand your concerns," he said. "We want to work with you."

Another recommendation MACSS made included a reference to the number of visitors to South Side on weekend nights, estimated each night to be the equivalent of the number of people attending a Penguin's game at Mellon Arena. MACSS noted that on weekends the number of "private duty" officers (officers working the door at bars) reaches 20 officers or more and could be an effective force in the neighborhood if they were coordinated and linked by radio.

"It's been a struggle we've had to endure," Mayor Ravenstahl said of the huge weekend crowds in the South Side. "In many cases, people from throughout the city migrate to the South Side."

He promised continued additional resources for special events, such as the recent St. Patrick's Day celebration.

In addition, the mayor said it might be beneficial to work with the secondary detail officers in the neighborhood. The city is looking into the possibility of working with the officers.

Parking, always on the minds of residents and business owners in South Side, was also addressed in the recommendations to the mayor in two ways, the need for additional parking and the need for an effective valet parking ordinance.

Mayor Ravenstahl said he has approached businesses about using their parking lots after hours. Unfortunately, the businesses declined citing liability factors.

As far as a new valet parking ordinance, he noted that Councilman Bruce Kraus is working with the police department on getting that valet parking ordinance into final form.

Moving on, the mayor talked about the 25 neighborhood sweeps he's done with public works and inspectors as part of the Taking Care of Business Program. On November 19, 2008, he walked E. Carson Street with city personnel to address graffiti, old signage and other problems.

Mr. Ravenstahl noted that South Side was the first business district to receive the "controversial" $1,000 trash cans. East Carson received 20 of the heavy duty trash receptacles. He said the city has issued an request for proposal for recycling containers for the neighborhood.

"I believe the neighborhoods should receive the same thing as the Downtown business district," he continued.

He noted graffiti on the upper floors of buildings is a problem specific to South Side and the city is working with property owners to eliminate the graffiti.

The mayor also mentioned the south shore riverfront trail saying it will connect the neighborhoods to the riverfronts. "It's going to go a long way in helping our neighborhoods."


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