Gee, will the South Side be ready when the summit comes to town
What will the G-20 summit mean for those that live and work in South Side which on "normal" evenings is an entertainment destination for visitors?
"There are a lot of questions and not many answers" said Councilman Bruce Kraus, who is concerned with how the international summit could affect the city.
Augmenting the city's police force will be around 700 Pennsylvania State Police officers, 1,200 Pennsylvania National Guard members and an additional 2,000 officers from other police departments. Councilman Kraus stressed that residents should continue to use 9-1-1 for all emergencies, G-20 related or not.
"All [law enforcement] will be under Chief Harper," Mr. Kraus said while repeating the need to call 9-1-1 for any and all emergencies.
He emphasized that the city police will not be pulled from patrolling their regular sectors during the summit. Pittsburgh police will continue to make their regular patrols in the zone.
Preparing for Super Bowl and Stanley Cup celebrations has helped the city to be ready for potential crowds, at least along Carson Street. The councilman has requested that Zone 3 Commander Catherine McNeilly put in place the same plan during the G-20 that the police used for the last Super Bowl.
Aspects of the plan include removing newspaper street boxes, planters and street furniture.
"I don't want to hurt businesses or put them out of business," Mr. Kraus said. "Street furniture might be okay during the day, but does it have to be out at midnight? I don't want anything out that could be used to throw through a $1,000 plate glass window."
Should businesses board up their windows in preparation for the summit and any possible damage by protesters the councilman asked, and then offered that it could be an opportunity for businesses to take advantage of to do extra business.
"You don't want to over-react," he said. "If you feel better about taking precautions, then take precautions."
As of Monday, only Cece Wheeler had applied for a permit to use the South Side Riverfront Park. The councilman said that if a group wants to use the park, they will have
to abide by city policy including having to vacate the park by 11 p.m.
If a protest is held at the park, he said residents should be not be surprised, but prepared, for the as many as 5,000 people walking, driving, hiking and biking down 18th Street to the park's entrance.
The councilman said that the police also know that there are G-20 protesters already in the neighborhood and "are monitoring the situation."
Mr. Kraus said during the week of the G-20, the city is considering opening the old Zone 3 Police Station and its 13 holding cells on Mary Street to be used to process summary offenses. He said the city anticipates having to process as many as 1,000 summary offenses during the week of the summit.
Chief Harper has agreed to the opening of the station, but the city still needs approval from the state.
Those who would like to stay up-to-date with security measures for the G-20 can go to http://www.g20safety.org and sign-up for email notifications.
Councilman Kraus said that City Council will change their schedule for the week of the summit: they will be in their offices on Monday and Tuesday, Sept. 21-22; and out of session on Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday, Sept. 23-25.
He again urged residents to call 9-1-1 with any problems. However, he said that he would be monitoring telephone calls to his office and checking his email while out of session. He hoped to be able to provide more information in the coming week.