South Pittsburgh Reporter - Serving South Pittsburgh Since 1939

By Margaret Smyka
Contributing Writer 

‘South Side Cares' shows neighborhood is a ‘Caring Community'


November 17, 2009

The sole presentation at the November 10 meeting of the South Side Planning Forum was on "South Side Cares," a new marketing effort designed to unify individuals and groups in the creation of a "Caring Community."

The speakers were Steve Root, South Side Community Council Action and Advocacy Committee, and Cathy Mitchell, South Side Community Council Program Committee.

The precepts of a Caring Community are respect for each other, clean streets, safe streets, and well being for all.

The intent of South Side Cares is to identify, encourage, and recognize positive efforts on the South Side. It will also promote civic responsibility.

"We're not trying to say `you must do this.' We want to foster the idea of a better way of doing things," said Ms. Mitchell.

"It's everyone participating in a way that reflects the caring," said Mr. Root.

The concept begins with acknowledging the ongoing community activities that already represent concern and caring, and then developing a list of additional actions.

A South Side Cares steering committee will be formed, said Mr. Root. Among its charges will be to identify actions and activities that represent South Side Cares; create a marketing plan and a logo; seek funding and pro-bona services to promote the concept; and promote, coordinate, and engage community-wide participation.

"We'll get our act together and then come back," said Mr. Root. Anyone interested in serving on the committee should contact him.

Next, forum Chair Hugh Brannan distributed a letter from Bryan Woll thanking the forum for allowing him to present his report.

A proposal for managing the South Side's nightlife using responsible hospitality practices was presented by Mr. Woll at the October 12 forum meeting. He prepared it while an intern in the office of city Councilman Bruce Kraus this past summer, and has since returned to college.

Mr. Brannan asked forum members if they wanted to take any action on what was presented, such as any of the 150 recommendations.

Christine Gaus said Mr. Woll's report, and the Mayor's Advisory Committee on the South Side, are on parallel tracks with some commonality. The issue is very broad and complex.

"I don't think there is an answer that one is better than the other, but there is a possibility of conflict," said Chuck Half, representing the South Side LDC board.

Mr. Brannan said there are mutual objectives that perhaps should be identified before the report "gets too far behind us."

Mr. Half said his concern is its being politicized. Instead, "I think we should do what we want as the Planning Forum," he said.

Ms. Gaus suggested taking time "to digest" all the recommendations.

Mr. Brannan said the issue of how to proceed will be on next month's agenda.

The meeting began with Mr. Brannan introducing Aaron Sukenik as the newest forum member, representing the South Side Slopes Neighborhood Association.

In the LTV report, Judy Dyda, manager of community planning at the South Side LDC, reported that the paving work in the East Carson St. widening project was finished on Nov. 1. Sidewalk work is expected to be completed by Thanksgiving.

"We know it's been extremely difficult on the businesses," she said.

The URA and the Soffer Organization are very satisfied with the work to date, she said.

Regarding Riverfront Park, Phase II will be completed by the end of the year except for some flower planting. The URA will advertise for Phase IIA bids next week.

With Phase IV, the connector trail behind American Eagle is in PennDOT's hands for approval. Phases IIIB and V are not advancing at this time.

The request for proposal, or RFP, for a marina garnered no responses by its October 26 deadline. The RFP will remain open as a "rolling" RFP.

Ms. Dyda also reported the URA Board did not approve a consultant study as it was not comfortable with the scope.

The proposal was to conduct an assessment of East Carson St., SouthSide Works, and Station Square to make sure businesses are not competing with each other, but are complementing one another as they compete with the region as a whole.

An adjusted scope will be resubmitted to the board next week. The contract could possibly be channeled through the South Side LDC.

In SouthSide Works news, General Nutrition Corp. (GNC) is open. Soffer is actively pursuing retail and commercial tenants.

Regarding Matcon Diamond, final approval for the 29th St. site is expected at the URA Board meeting next month with contingencies, such as evidence of financing.

Final approval for the Matcon Diamond site at SouthSide Works adjacent to the existing Matcon development is expected at the December URA Board meeting.

In other news, Ms. Dyda offered congratulations to architect and South Side Slopes resident Peter Kreuthmeier who was honored recently at the American Institute of Architects Design Awards for his Monastery-Brosville garden wall project on the Slopes.

She also mentioned that she and her late husband, Dave, were honored as Parents of the Year by the University of Louisville where the couple's daughter, Arielle, is a senior. The Dydas were recognized for their commitment to their daughter's success through their inspiration and hard work.

In other announcements, South Side Community Council is partnering with Duquesne University to offer a free "potluck" Thanksgiving dinner for residents and Duquesne students on Nov. 17 at the Market House.

Anyone who would like to contribute should bring a side dish to serve 10 people.

The hope is that neighbors — long-time residents and short-term student residents — will get to know one another.

"We're attempting to do some of the things of South Side Cares," said Mr. Half.

Phillips Elementary School principal Rodney Necciai told attendees to check out "Ask a Fourth Grader: Pittsburgh" on the on-line ESPN the Magazine. It was filmed at Phillips, with youngsters offering their perspectives of the local sports scene. He referred to it as "priceless."

The next forum meeting will be on December 8.


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