May 22, 2012 |

New rep from Mayor's Office attends South Side Slopes Assoc. meeting

The May meeting of the South Side Slopes Neighborhood Association (SSSNA) featured updates of on-going issues, and news of upcoming events.

The meeting was conducted by SSSNA vice-president Brian Oswald.

In her brief presentation, Candice Gonzalez of the Mayor's Office said she lives on the Slopes, and her family has lived in South Side for more than 100 years. She was hired by the city two months ago.

Ms. Gonzalez said block watch kits are available through the Mayor's Office to help residents organize block watches.

She also said callers can remain anonymous when they call the 311 response center. To reach the center from outside the area, call 412-255-2621.

An attendee commented he called 311 to report potholes, and was given a reference number so he could call back to learn the resolution. When he did so, he was told the problem was resolved. However, he said the problem still remains.

Ms. Gonzalez said she would look into the matter.

Chuck Half of the Mayor's Office, who also spoke briefly, said the office is proud of the 311, the city's phone number for government information and non-emergency services.

It should be called for ongoing problems like trash on a property, illegal dumping, graffiti, abandoned cars, or any other violation. 911 should be called anytime someone sees or hears a crime happening.

Mr. Half reported the city region was recently cited as having the third highest number of job gains nationwide for the period 2008-2012.

It means there is a great demand for property, which is not unrelated to the quality-of-life issues the area prides itself on, he said.

To a question of whether the city is weighing in on the pending transit cuts, Mr. Half said the mayor has no responsibility for Port Authority Transit operations.

But the city was awarded a competitive consulting services grant from IBM. The company will send a six-person team to the city to help officials with various projects.

Mayor Ravenstahl has said the city plans to tap IBM's expertise for assistance in improving its transportation networks.

In his update, Father Don Ware said the outreach committee is starting up again.

He also said the lighting of the 18th Street steps as both a safety and beautification project is in progress.

As for upcoming events, the SSSNA's summer picnic will be held on July 10, while StepTrek 2012 will be held on Oct. 6 from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. starting at South Side Park.

Mr. Oswald said they will try to reserve Sabers Field for the picnic.

In news of the new community garden at Bandi Shaum Field, the planting day will be Sat., June 2, from 9 a.m. to noon. The goal is to convert the old baseball field into a productive community garden.

The intended space is overgrown, and tends to be used as a community dumping ground."

On a related issue, there was a brief report on the Health Futures project, which is creating a youth summer gardening program at the Bandi Shaum Field community garden.

The objective is to create a sustainable summer gardening program for Voices Against Violence, which offers mentoring, an academic-based program, summer camps, job assistance, and more to children and young adults.

Currently, 15 students from Carrick High School are working at the garden.

Public Allies, at 33 Terminal Way in the South Side, offers a 10-month apprenticeship program designed to develop the next generation of civic leaders.

Its signature AmeriCorps ally program prepares young adults, called allies, for leadership through nonprofit apprenticeships and leadership training.

One of the requirements is to develop sustainable community projects in partnership with local nonprofit organizations.

Among residents, garden maintenance volunteers and mentors are sought, as is financial sponsorship.

The communal garden is a joint effort of the SSSNA, Grow Pittsburgh, South Side Community Council, and the city's Dept. of Public Works.

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