Updates on “old business” and on a pilot program to improve St. Patrick’s Day transportation in the Carson St. corridor were the focus of the April 9 meeting of the South Side Planning Forum meeting.
Candice Gonzalez, Neighborhood Initiatives Coordinator in the Mayor’s Office, delivered a review of the one-day pilot program to improve transportation and mobility following the city’s St. Patrick’s Day Parade on Saturday, March 16.
Molly’s Trolleys, Pittsburgh Transportation Group, and Star Transportation Group donated shuttle service from noon until 4 a.m. The shuttles took about 30 minutes to complete the route between the Second Ave. parking lot and SouthSide Works and back.
The Parking Authority opened the parking lot at 6 a.m. and provided the 810 parking spaces until Sunday evening.
In total, the shuttles conducted 96 loops with no accidents or negative incidents.
Ms. Gonzalez said she rode all day long. She said the riders she encountered “were very happy” with the shuttle service.
The 11 shuttle stops were clearly labeled with signs made by the Dept. of Public Works, which also fabricated and installed taxi stand signs at five designated locations as requested.
Nine pedicabs operated to/from downtown and the North Shore.
City police stationed their command central vehicle in the eastern part of the Second Ave. lot until about 2 a.m., which made those who parked there feel safe, she said.
Ms. Gonzalez said she saw a police presence everywhere, which was welcomed, and observed “an army of clean-up vehicles.”
The South Side enforcement blitz that day was: 156 bar occupancy inspections; 58 traffic citations; two arrests; and 37 tows.
Ms. Gonzalez said the only complaints she is aware of were from two Muriel St. residents who were not happy with the shuttle stops on their street. They suggested moving it to the Giant Eagle lot next year, which Ms. Gonzalez said would be done.
She also said the South Side Bar and Restaurant Association is considering implementing shuttle service on a regular basis. She will work with them on this, along with talking with the three shuttle services.
The Parking Authority will allow free use of the Second Ave. parking lot when it is not problematic for regular users.
In the report of the Development Review Committee (DRC), chair Tracy Myers said there is concern about the ground-level garage of the Hyatt Hotel on South Water St., which is opening later this month.
She said the side of the garage facing the river is unsightly from the perspective of trail users. The DRC was under the impression the plan called for something more aesthetically pleasing.
To a question of whether projects are monitored for adherence to approved specifications, Ms. Myers said that was easier to do with a paid South Side LDC staff. The SSLDC ceased business operations last summer.
To avoid situations such as with the garage, Mr. Myers said a future plan may involve DRC members taking turns strolling the neighborhood and viewing new projects.
She asked that when something in the neighborhood does not look right, photos should be taken and sent to DRC members.
An attendee said a topic at the prior evening’s South Side Community Council meeting was frustration with the city for not taking the planning forum as seriously as it once did.
Ms. Myers said it was a conversation which should take place.
In the South Side Neighborhood Plan update, Ms. Myers said a meeting of the neighborhood plan revision committee was tentatively scheduled for April 12.
The purpose of the meeting was to strategize on how to effect transition from a temporary committee to a standing neighborhood plan revision committee.
The purpose of the latter, as stated in the eighth update of the neighborhood plan, is to monitor progress in addressing issues as identified in the neighborhood plan, and to update the plan biennially.
This new committee is needed as there is no full-time, paid staff to take care of these issues in light of the dissolution of the South Side LDC.
Ms. Myers said she hopes all forum member groups will contribute a member or two to the new committee.
Next, there was consensus among the member groups to endorse the youth hostel to be located at 1321-1327 East Carson St. above the Beehive Coffeehouse.
At the forum’s February meeting, Anne Marie Toccket, who is leading the youth hostel project, asked the forum to consider declaring their support for the project. Its projected opening is spring, 2014.
The meeting concluded with news of upcoming events:
The South Side Community Council’s annual spring flower sale is in full bloom. Orders must be placed by the end of April in time for Mother’s Day.
Its 22nd Annual Historic South Side Home Tour will be held on May 18 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
The South Side Welcome Center will be opening soon at 1100 East Carson St.
The grand opening of the Great Allegheny Passage will be June 15 at Point State Park.
The next forum meeting will be on May 14.