The now vacant former Giant Eagle building on Brownsville Road in Carrick is considered by some to be an eyesore but there have been local discussions regarding plans to replace it with a senior citizen high rise.
A community meeting concerning ways of reusing the property at 2920 Brownsville Road is scheduled at 7 p.m. May 18 at the Stewart Avenue Lutheran Church.
City council member Natalia Rudiak said she and representatives from Brentwood borough, Economic Development South and Carrick Community Council have had preliminary meetings with Giant Eagle about the development. She and others mentioned how beneficial a high rise would be for the quality of life of elderly Carrick residents.
Also involved in the discussions was a nonprofit development organization, Community Builders, which has experienced finance professionals on staff to benefit the project.
Ms. Rudiak said Giant Eagle did not want the property used by a competitor for retail purposes.
Also at the community council meeting, Linda Warble, from the food pantry, recognized several long-time student volunteers who are graduating from high school this year. They are: Becky Pallotta, Mariana Dawida, Katie Metcalf and April Warble.
The rest of the meeting involved presentations on important city services. The goal was to have representatives from city departments explain the agencies' responsibilities and how the public might make better use of them.
"If you build it, we will come," said Ed McAllister, project chief of the Bureau of Building Inspections, humorously paraphrasing a catch phrase from the movie "Field of Dreams."
The department has a staff of 37 persons, including three fire inspectors, three demolition experts, seven code enforcement officials, seven electrical experts and 17 senior inspectors.
He said the department just ran an ad in the local newspapers and is looking to hire more staffers. Two persons have recently been hired, but have not been certified as inspectors yet.
Calls by residents to 3-1-1, the Mayor's Service Center, about the condition of local properties result in visits by inspectors and sometimes in citations. Code infractions include high weeds, graffiti, cracked sidewalks and abandoned vehicles.
Mr. McAllister brought a senior inspector's log to the meeting to answer any questions residents had after the meeting about specific properties.
A representative from 3-1-1 was invited to the meeting but did not attend.
Caster D. Binion, chief operating officer, Housing Authority, said his department gets complaints about conditions and activities at Section 8 houses. His department works as a team with BBI.
"You may think a house is Section 8, but it is usually not one. Out of 10 houses that people think are designated Section 8 only one might really be Section 8," he said.
He also said people seem to be unaware applicants for Section 8 housing must undergo extensive background checks and meet income restrictions.
He said his agency is not allowed to reveal whether a home has a Section 8 designation due to privacy reasons. Reasons to evict Section 8 tenants are standard across the country and can be found on the internet.
The city makes money from its recycling program, Bill Klimovich, Bureau of Environmental Services, said. He noted the city has also saved money with "single stream" recycling, which refers to not separating items and putting them in the same blue bag.
In response to questions, he said there has been some discussion about the pros and cons of issuing recyclable containers to residents.
He heard complaints that night about people who put out the trash on Fridays instead of on Mondays and then go away for the weekend. He advised people to call and send photos to the 3-1-1 center.
District Magisterial Judge Richard King distributed paperwork showing the amount of fines collected and the number of summary offenses handled by magisterial district courts in the state.
Ashleigh Deemer, Ms. Rudiak's assistant, distributed a list of community resources that showed which agency should be called about specific problems. Serious crimes should be reported to the police at 9-1-1. Non-crime issues like illegal dump sites, traffic and parking should be reported to 3-1-1. Call the Health Department about unsafe living conditions.
Those who are not sure who to call or want to follow up on an ongoing issue can contact Ms. Rudiak's office at 412-255-2131 or email at ashleigh.deemer@city. pittsburgh.pa.us