March 19, 2013 | Vol. 73 No. 34

Neighborhood Plan reviewed by the S.S. Planning Forum

The distribution of the printed copies of the latest revision of the South Side Neighborhood Plan highlighted the latest meeting of the South Side Planning Forum on Tuesday, March 12.

Tracy Myers from the Neighborhood Plan update committee explained the printed copies represented the revisions that were approved by the Planning Forum in December 2012. The latest version, the eighth revision of the plan, is a leaner, condensed version.

Ms. Myers said the committee decided to take out much of the background material such as the history of the neighborhood, the planning process and neighborhood strengths from previous versions so the plan could focus on the current state of the neighborhood and what tasks member organizations would like to focus their energies. History and relevant materials such as neighborhood studies will be retained in a separate document.

Recognizing a void that was left in neighborhood management when the South Side Local Development Company ceased operations last year the updated plan makes several recommendations concerning ad hoc and standing Planning Forum committees.

The ad hoc Planning Forum Revision Committee will now be a standing committee. Ms. Myers said in order for the plan to retain its relevance and reflects the ongoing changes in the neighborhood it is desirable that the committee meets on an ongoing basis.

The Development Review Committee, which is also already operating, is a merger of the LTV Steering Committee and the South Side LDC Design Committee. According to the plan, the committee will continue to monitor proposed development in the neighborhood, including the South Side Flats, Slopes and SouthSide Works to ensure the architectural and historic integrity of the neighborhood is maintained.

It is recommended a Parks and Green Space Committee be formed. Ms. Myers noted there have been a number of plans developed over time for South Side Park, Armstrong Park and other public spaces. To prevent people from working cross purposes and to leverage the capacities of the people interested in working on the parks and green spaces it was suggested a committee be formed to channel the energy.

To maintain lines of communication between the neighborhood and UPMC regarding current and future use of the former South Side Hospital campus, the plan recommends the continuation of the UPMC Mercy South Side Outpatient Center Committee.

The eighth revision of the Neighborhood Plan notes the Neighborhood Improvement District Steering Committee “has not been disbanded,” Ms. Myers said. Should it be possible or desirable in the future to reignite the process, the committee structure will be in place.

“The work done by the existing committee and the documents created should continue to be available,” she added.

The plan also documents the types of entities represented on the Planning Forum: Organizations and Sectors, how they are represented and what their responsibilities to the umbrella group include. Currently, member organizations include: The Brashear Association, Friends of the South Side Branch Carnegie Library, South Side Chamber of Chamber of Commerce, South Side Community Council and South Side Slopes Neighborhood Association.

Sectors representatives come from the education, health and religious institutions in the neighborhood.

“This does not work if every organization does not have a continuing role in the process,” Ms. Myers said.

The Neighborhood Plan also explains how other organizations may be considered for Planning Forum membership and notes adding new members, like all forum votes, is done by consensus.

The plan also outlines, similar to an organization’s by-laws, how the Planning Forum operates laying out the decision making process, how meetings are conducted and how representatives are oriented to the process. It also recommends the Neighborhood Plan become more of a living document with ongoing revisions rather than the biennial overhaul used in the past.

In the Community Policies section of the plan, Neighborhood Realities are identified. Realities include conditions in the community which are well known.

Examples of Neighborhood Realities include: There are steep slopes, as well as steep and narrow roadways, in many areas; and, East Carson Street is designated as a state road and is also a truck route.

The plan also captures concerns and priorities identified my member groups, and in certain cases, provide which organization has made it a priority.

The revised South Side Neighborhood Plan is expected to be available on member organization websites and also at www.sopghreporter.com.

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