May 15, 2012 |

Economic development discussed at Carrick Town Hall meeting

Carrick does not have an economic development corporation similar to Mount Washington's or Lawrenceville's.

So, instead, Carrick and Overbrook, two Pittsburgh neighborhoods, joined Economic Development South (EDS), a neighboring community development organization, which is active in the suburbs of Brentwood, Whitehall and Baldwin borough.

Councilwoman Natalia Rudiak spoke about the partnership at a Carrick Town Hall meeting she hosted on May 8. Also present was Gregory Jones, executive director of EDS.

She said in contrast, the Mount Washington Community Development Corporation had staff and many volunteers who spent plenty of hours working on behalf of their neighborhood.

Ms. Rudiak expressed some of the many goals and dreams for the community of Carrick where she lives. She wants to see the former Giant Eagle, now a vacant building on Brownsville Road near Burger King, become a senior apartment complex/medical office center. Giant Eagle's developers have agreed but stipulated there be no retail there similar to Giant Eagle.

"We are finding the financing complicated. But there is a documented need for senior apartments. Seniors don't want to move. They want to stay near where they live now," she said.

Ms. Rudiak would also like to create a connection and accessibility to the bus way, light rail and park and rides. "We're close to the heart of the city. But, if you talk to Port Authority right now they look like deer caught in the headlights. They have battles of their own to fight."

Another frustration for her is that Carrick does not have a comprehensive plan. Other neighborhoods prepared such plans more than a decade ago. "In Carrick we are just getting started."

During part of her presentation Ms. Rudiak explained what the job of a council person was, since people do not always know.

The mayor manages the departments, which do the day-to-day work of city government. She explained she is one of nine council members that pass legislative laws.

"What we do is that we listen to you. Through phone calls, web site feedback, e-mails, Facebook, letters, Twitter, community meetings, door knocking. I even get stopped at the grocery store."

She has two or three staff members and is asked about a variety of subjects, everything from public safety issues to philosophical questions.

Ms. Rudiak has a master's degree in public policy from Carnegie Mellon University.

During her first weeks in office she had to deal with the crisis situation caused and aggravated by one of the worst snowfalls in Pittsburgh's history. While later investigating how the city responded to the problems, she found she had to subpoena the public safety director.

When she canvassed Carrick while campaigning, she found that the biggest issue for neighborhood businesses was public safety.

She and others did a public safety assessment and, like Mount Washington and Allentown, implemented some changes for Carrick, including more plants and shrubs, closed off alleys and additional lighting.

She and others were involved in a recent clean-up that removed tons of garbage, tires and building material.

One common comment she and her staff hear is that the problem with Carrick is Section 8 housing that creates a lot of uncomfortable issues for neighborhoods. But the truth is there are not that many Section 8 homes in Carrick. "The staff is working on a policy that would make code enforcement work for everybody."

Ms. Rudiak voted for a policy for city employees that originated because of concerns over domestic violence. She has also been working on a clean air bill, clean water bill and prevailing wage legislation.

Near the end of the meeting a resident made an announcement about the future of the former Carrick Literary Club, at 210 Copperfield Avenue, which existed since 1908. It will no longer operate as an after- hours club. Some of its facilities, long in disuse, will open again – including the kitchen (for lunch), the pool table, dart board and a horseshoe pit; a softball league may be formed. The new owners want to create a family atmosphere and are accepting membership applications.

They are: John Chmill, who served in Iraq, John Farah, who served in Iraq and Afghanistan, Mark Huntley and Donald Huntley.

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