October 16, 2012 |

Planning Forum hears about new Hello Bistro, Neighborhood Plan update

The October 9 meeting of the South Side Planning Forum began with the new manager of the South Side branch of Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh, Susie Waldo, introducing herself.

The branch, which underwent a nearly year-long capital improvement project, is in its fourth week after reopening.

"This is a real great opportunity to start all kinds of new programming," she said.

Ms. Waldo offered to give forum members a tour of the renovated facility. The library also has new public meeting space that forum organizations can use.

Next, Tim Kaulen asked the forum's support regarding the Steelworkers Sculpture in Riverfront Park adjacent to the off-leash dog park. The artwork consists of two steelworker figures centered around a ladle, with each figure weighing more than 9,000 pounds.

The project, which began about 10 years ago, faces a final challenge, Mr. Kaulen said: appealing to the city to maintain the artwork as city-owned public art.

He asked the forum to send a letter of support for the sculpture to the city stating it is an amenity and would be to the city's advantage to maintain. Forum members agreed, and a letter will be sent.

The next presenter was Mike Clark of the South Side Community Council, who discussed the organization's on-going parking study, which included measuring all the local streets. Among the problems the committee discovered was lack of signage, such as 13 one-way streets that are not labeled, and 37 missing stop signs.

Mr. Clark said he would work with city Councilman Bruce Kraus and Public Works on signage, and on the report in general.

"You can't expect people to abide by signage if it's not there," he said.

He said he would like the planning forum to invest in a parking study using the committee's data and documentation.

Chuck Half, of the Mayor's Office, recommended the report include a lot of data for both the daytime and evening economies.

"There's very distinct differences in day versus night," he said.

Mr. Kraus said an issue that needs to be considered in parking discussions is the Allegheny County drink tax. While imposed solely to fund mass transit, it does not benefit residents in need of evening transportation. However, the tax is largely generated by a nighttime economy.

Regarding the controversial, proposed residential permit parking district in the general area of 10th St. to 17th St. along East Carson St. but excluding East Carson, he said the Planning Commission sent council a negative recommendation based on the hours of enforcement.

The proposal was for noon to midnight enforcement hours, Monday through Saturday, with a two-hour grace period. The grace period is the amount of time a non-permit holder would be permitted to park during enforcement hours.

"We're revisiting those hours of enforcement," Mr. Kraus said of city council.

On the topic of the new parking system, he said if a motorist pays for a planned time length at a certain spot, but then decides to drive elsewhere to complete another errand, he does not have to pay again if the second parking spot is in the same sector.

"There will be some growing pains in the beginning, but it will serve us well in the long-run," he said of the new system.

In conclusion, Mr. Clark said he would get back to the forum once a final report is completed.

Representatives of Eat ‘n Park spoke next about a Hello Bistro restaurant planned for 1922 East Carson St. It will be the second Hello Bistro, with the first operating in Oakland.

Many inner-city areas are not conducive to the Eat ‘n Park restaurants due to parking limitations and other logistics. As a result, Hello Bistro is designed to be a walking destination.

The South Side site will serve breakfast, lunch, and dinner; it is not designed to serve a bar crowd. Beer and wine will be available by the glass.

It will have about 40 employees, with the company aiming to hire workers from the area.

Construction is expected to start in December, with Hello Bistro opening in the first quarter of 2013.

Next, Peter Kreuthmeier delivered his report of the new Development Review Committee (DRC), formed as a merger of the LTV Steering Committee and the former South Side Local Development Company's Design Review Committee.

Among the highlights:

The CSX Tunnel Park is coming along well and is on track to be completed around November.

Eight more buildings with 13 off-street parking spots are being proposed for the townhouse plan at 18th and Josephine streets. Three of the proposed buildings have driveways entering from 18th St.

DRC members commented on the need to speak with neighbors, and on studying the traffic pattern on 18th St. as the driveways on that side could be very dangerous.

The final presentation was of a draft of the eighth revision of the neighborhood plan by Tracy Myers and Betty Kripp.

The neighborhood plan, originally adopted by the forum in 1990, is the official planning document for the community. The eighth revision acknowledges the dissolution of the South Side Local Development Company on June 30, 2012.

"There have been many intense meetings over the past year," Ms. Myers said.

The revision process has been underway almost three years. In past versions, the style was to present a problem and recommend action items to address the problem.

The proposed revision consists of a collection of statements the committee believes are important to the neighborhood, and which organization has volunteered to take the lead in implementation.

Another important distinction from prior revisions is the recommendation to form standing committees to deal with some issues, such as the DRC and the Neighborhood Improvement District (NID) which are already in operation.

Forum Chair Hugh Brannan said he hoped forum groups would report back about the revision in one to two months. Once approved, it would be sent to city departments and others.

Ms. Myers said she was willing to meet with forum groups to discuss or answer questions on the revision.

The next forum meeting will be on Nov. 13.

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