July 28, 2009 |

Mayor receives latest copy of the South Side Neighborhood Plan

Mayor Luke Ravenstahl received the first copy of the seventh revision of the South Side Neighborhood Plan at the annual meeting of the South Side Planning Forum on July 21.

The brief presentation of the document at City Theatre drew about 50 residents, city administrators, and city officials, including the mayor and Councilman Bruce Kraus.

The South Side Slopes Neighborhood Association, which is represented on the forum board by Misi Bielich, provided refreshments.

The document can be viewed on the website of the South Side Local Development Co.: www.southsidepgh.com/SSLDC/ or at www.sopghreporter.com.

Forum Chair Hugh Brannan began with a brief overview of some of the forum's noted activities: nominating East Carson St. as an historic district; on-going monitoring of the LTV site; and "promoting an agenda for a safe, clean, and vibrant South Side."

The forum operates on consensus: all member groups have to reach agreement.

The neighborhood plan, he said, "serves as our neighborhood's work plan." It was first adopted in 1990 and presented to then-Mayor Sophie Masloff.

Next was Judy Dyda, the staff member of the South Side LDC who worked on the plan. She said the 12-member committee met six times over the past eight months.

The extensive process included a community survey mailed to all households and businesses. The high 10 percent response rate "showed they cared," she said.

There were also two town meetings, and a mini-charrette conducted at Phillips Elementary School.

The action steps in the plan were adopted by all forum organizations.

In the plan, the committee eliminated the separations of Slopes and Flats.

"We have a united neighborhood," said Ms. Dyda.

The plan, she said, is a policy document that tries to strike a balance between commercial and residential.

Among its ongoing themes are: it must be recognized by the city as the official planning document; the neighborhood's culture must be preserved; green space must be preserved; and must learn to live with reduced funding for neighborhood revitalization.

Betty Kripp, a committee member, said the major changes in this revision are in format rather than content. The new format clearly identifies the issue, recommendation/action steps, and the lead organization.

Categories within issues include planning, housing, public services, recommendations, and human services.

In summary, she said, human development is an essential ingredient and the South Side "is a tremendous asset to the City of Pittsburgh."

Mr. Brannan then presented the first copy to the mayor.

"Your work on the local level will be a blueprint as we look to make a city-wide plan," said Mr. Ravenstahl in accepting the plan.

"We're committed to working with you that your vision becomes a reality," he said.

Mr. Kraus received the second copy, saying what he likes best about the plan process "is the civilized nature in which it all takes place."

The plan, he said, "has become a model for all neighborhoods to aspire to." He called the volunteers present in the room "the heart and soul of the neighborhood."

Mr. Kraus said he and the mayor share the best interests of the South Side.

"When the mayor says, ‘you have the ear of this administration,' you have the ear of this administration," he said.

The next forum meeting will be on Sept. 8.

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