Mount Washington begins input gathering for TRID transit study
Jill Harris lived away from Pittsburgh for 18 years and always spoke enthusiastically of Pittsburgh's transit system and how it catered to the needs of the neighborhoods.
She contrasted it with areas in other states lacking regular bus systems. Mrs. Harris and her husband then came back to live in Mount Washington and they found themselves stranded when they realized the Mount no longer had a 34C route.
There were some gripes about public transit aired at the Mount Washington Community Development Corporation community forum meeting on May 20.
The topic under discussion was planning for a Transit Revitalization Investment District (TRID) at South Hills Junction and other locations.
Another complaint was tourists ride the Mon Incline to the top and then ask about available transportation so they can visit the Duquesne Incline and nearby restaurants. They are told the site is a mile away and there is no transportation to take them there. So, they give up and leave. Attendees viewed this as a lost opportunity.
"We just completely blow it," one resident said.
Guest speakers and MWCDC staff and officers encouraged discussion of ways to improve transit and to revitalize the neighborhood.
Desiree Van Tassel, of State Rep. Chelsea Wagner's office, and other speakers explained the concept of the TRID. A 2004 state law permits the creation of districts in which part of the taxes that are generated by new development are to be used for transit and site improvements.
"It's similar to a TIF (tax incremental financing). You forego tax revenue to reinvest in the area," Justin Miller, Department of City Planning, said.
There is national enthusiasm for creating housing and commercial development around transit hubs. Local areas under consideration for improvements are Mount Washington (at the South Hills Junction), Allentown, Beltzhoover and Beechview, Ms. Van Tassel said.
A consultant, Interface Studios, paid by state and local funds, will create a TRID plan after marketing and engineering studies, financial planning and much feedback from the community. Ideas and priorities will be sought from residents in four meetings and eight focus groups, Mr. Miller said. The final plan will then be submitted to the taxing bodies for consideration.
Chris Sandvig, project manager, Pittsburgh Community Reinvestment Group, a neighborhood advocacy group, solicited input that night and asked how many of the 20 persons in the room used Port Authority transit. "Half the room! Usually it is far less," he said.
"I hear you loud and clear," he said after he heard the complaints. "We want a system that works and that integrates into the neighborhood."
He said the TRID planning is a huge opportunity to get the Port Authority to listen to the neighborhood.
MWCDC Program Manager Greg Panza mentioned the Art Marketplace along Shiloh Street (started) May 29 and will run every Saturday until Sept. 4, weather permitting. Sculptures, clothing, paintings, jewelry and photography will be on sale from local artists and there will be musical performances. Visit http://www.vuplus.org to learn which artists and performers will be featured each week.
Mr. Panza also encouraged attendees to visit the Warrington Avenue Farm Stand in Allentown every Thursday, June 10 through November 11 at the parking lot at Warrington Avenue and Walter Street. This is a project of the Greater Pittsburgh Community Food Bank and is co-sponsored by MWCDC, Allentown CDC and Beltzhoover Neighborhood Council.
Director Frank Valenta said he was disappointed only four of the MWCDC board members attended the meeting that night. He said directors who missed three times in a row could be removed from the board. Board President J.T. Smith said he would encourage them to attend.
Mr. Panza said there had been rumors Foodland might leave Mount Washington and he spoke to the owners. "They have no intention of leaving," he said.
The Park Car Show is scheduled for noon to 4 p.m. June 19 at Grandview Park.
Crime statistics were available for pickup by attendees. In April Mount Washington and Duquesne Heights had: 26 burglaries, 27 reports of criminal mischief, 13 complaints of harassment, 10 thefts from auto, one theft from a Shiloh Avenue business, 14 thefts from persons and five drug arrests.