December 21, 2010 |

Planning forum to hear from committee on possible S.S. NID

A look ahead to 2011, and updates on on-going local projects, comprised the final 2010 meeting of the South Side Planning Forum.

In 2011 news, the exploratory committee on determining the feasibility of the South Side as a "neighborhood improvement district" or some other strategy will present its recommendations during the forum's Jan. 11 meeting.

Member organizations' representatives will then share the findings with their respective organizations.

If there is a consensus, the next step will be the formation of a steering committee to decide boundaries, services, and more. Public meetings to solicit input would follow.

Susie Puskar, who represents the forum on the exploratory committee, said she can make a presentation before any forum member organization between now and the Jan. 11 meeting.

The exploratory committee was formed to study and establish a model that meets neighborhood needs once the South Side LDC goes out of business in two years, after having achieved its goals.

In the LTV report, Judy Dyda said financing may be back in place again for Toby Keith's country-themed "I Love This Bar & Grill."

The new Hilton Summerfield Suites extended stay, with six stories and 134 rooms, was approved by the Planning Commission by a 3-2 vote.

The city will not assume ownership of the South Side Riverfront Park until a permanent maintenance funding plan is in place. The proposed marina at the SouthSide Works is in need of $1.8 million in gap financing.

Regarding a proposed Get-Go near the FBI building, Giant Eagle has reached an agreement with UPMC to petition the Pittsburgh Planning Commission and the Zoning Board of Adjustment to incorporate zoning from across the street into the site.

The Dick Corporation building still doesn't have primary funding in place to begin construction. While the Urban Redevelopment Authority of Pittsburgh (URA) remains supportive of the Dick Corp. project, two other parties are interested in the site.

LA Fitness is closer to a lease agreement for the original Joseph-Beth Booksellers site.

In the UPMC Steering Committee report, Ms. Dyda said the GI and Urgent Care numbers are up at the UPMC Mercy South Side Outpatient Center, while the MRI numbers need improvement. The official name of the urgent care has been changed to "UPMC Walk-in Primary Care Clinic."

The numbers of employees and patients at the facility are increasing so much that parking is becoming an issue. The plan is to begin implementing the 21st St. streetscape recommendations. Lots will be relined to increase spaces, and new gates installed.

Tokens of $2 will be required to park in the facility lots for patients not undergoing procedures.

Regarding food service, internal options are being explored while retail food options continue to be examined.

Next, Aaron Sukenik, business development manager of the South Side LDC, said the Armstrong Park study was completed and he has received the final version of the master plan.

As funding is needed to proceed with the master plan, the next step, he said, is formation of a Friends of Armstrong Park Committee to serve as drivers of implementing the improvements. In the coming weeks, he will research potential funding opportunities.

The first meeting is tentatively scheduled for Jan. 27 at 5:30 p.m. at a site yet to be determined. Contact Mr. Sukenik if interested in serving on the committee.

In other news, Ms. Dyda said the neighborhood plan update process will begin in January, with a goal to finish in March.

The meeting concluded with Christine Gaus giving an overview of the Brashear Association's Holiday Collection Drive, which was scheduled to end on Dec. 20.

That is the day new toys were to be distributed to more than 400 families who requested toy assistance this year. In addition to toys, all children ages 12 and under received a book courtesy of Joseph-Beth Booksellers.

Brashear has provided holiday assistance for more than two decades to low income families in the South neighborhoods.

The next forum meeting will be on Jan. 11.

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