January 24, 2012 |

McArdle could take a month to fix, landslide not caused by tree cutting

"I know the importance of McArdle Roadway. I travel it every day," said Rob Kaczorowski, City Public Works director.

He was the featured speaker at the Jan. 19 community forum meeting of the Mount Washington Community Development Corporation.

He said McArdle will be closed for repairs for at least 30 days after the recent landslide. "I'll push the guy (in charge of the work)," he said.

An engineer recommended a serpentine retaining wall be built. "It is the strongest, safest, longest lasting solution," Mr. Kaczorowski said. "The reason that the hillside slid was not because of tree removal. No, ground saturation caused the slide."

He said the concern was over the upper area of the slide. "The engineer looked at the fractured crack and grouted that…Part of the remediation will include installing a new drainage system.

"I met with the mayor. He is one of the best bosses that I ever had. He just tells me to get the work done and to see the budget director," he said.

The wall is expected to cost between up to $500,000 after all estimates are received.

In other business, MWCDC Executive Director Chris Beichner announced Port Authority plans to send a representative as the guest speaker for the next forum session on Feb. 16 to discuss the possible cuts in service for transit passengers.

"We will talk about what we can do as a community," said Mr. Beichner who hopes to also have local and state officials attend.

One resident wondered which buses will be available to carry Duquesne Incline passengers into downtown Pittsburgh.

Another speaker was MWCDC Park Director Ilyssa Manspeizer who gave a presentation on "Emerald View Park: How We View Pittsburgh." She promised "a tale of obstacles, drama and excitement."

She remembers being told several years ago by someone she encountered that the area that includes all of the Mount's park land "is not really a park. That is just a steep hillside."

Ms. Manspeizer decided to "stop, take a deep breath and listen."

She learned Dillworth Park was considered unsafe and often unused by residents. The MWCDC held festivals and events and brought in a boxing club to provide recreation for youth. Now, the fields, playground and trails are regularly used.

"We hired a dedicated crew to build trails for Emerald View Park and this year we will hire two crews instead of one like last year," she said.

Work included refurbishing trails, adding secondary trails and upgrading newly added acreage.

"Not a soul now questions the validity of Emerald View Park. This was our first happy ending but it was more like a happy beginning," Ms. Manspeizer said.

The MWCDC was also concerned about tall and invasive trees blocking the impressive view from Grandview Avenue. The solution was to remove "problem trees" and to replace them with low growing native trees, shrubs and grasses. This helps to nuture a healthy native hillside ecosystem, provides wildlife habitat, reduces storm water flows and prevents erosion.

"I work with the awesome volunteers," said Kathleen Hunninen, MWCDC community sustainability coordinator." There are many, many ways you can get involved – clean up litter or build trails. Adopt a plot of land and become an urban eco-steward. Get the word out there."

Those interested in the Great Backyard Bird Count Outing, now scheduled to meet at the MWCDC office on the morning of Sunday, Feb. 19, should contact khunninen@mwcdc.org or at 412 481-3220. Also contact her for more details regarding "meet-ups" to help make trail markers for Emerald View Park; the first is scheduled 6 to 8 p.m. on Jan. 26 at 4209 Butler St.

A "Wild Urban Adventure Hike" along Emerald View Park is scheduled from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Mar. 4. For more information or to register, contact info@mwcdc.org or call 412 481-3220, ext. 204.

Other upcoming hikes are scheduled for June 3 and Nov. 18.

Crime statistics for Mount Washington and Duquesne Heights are regularly distributed at forum sessions. During December there were reported: three aggravated assaults, six burglaries, 20 acts of criminal mischief, three drug arrests, 12 simple assaults, 14 thefts from auto and 12 thefts from persons.

City council members Theresa Kail-Smith and Bruce Kraus attended the forum meeting.

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