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By Margaret L. Smykla
Contributing Writer 

Community council looking to make South Side Green N'at

 


Presentations on the green initiatives of the South Side Community Council (SSCC), and St. Patrick’s Day preparations, headlined the March 11 meeting of the South Side Planning Forum.

SSCC president Cathy Mitchell and Jenn Holliman kicked off the meeting with a report of SSCC’s action committee, Green N’at, which began in 2008.

Ms. Mitchell said Green N’at renovated the public garden at 11th and Carson streets in partnership with the Western Pennsylvania Conservancy. Dedication is planned for May.

Green N’at weeded, planted, and mulched the 18th and Carson streets corner garden.

The committee also crafted a large community garden at Bandi Schaum Field in South Side Park with the South Side Slopes Neighborhood Association and Grow Pittsburgh. It also planted a garden at the 18th St. access to Riverfront Park.

Ms. Mitchell said Green N’at approaches businesses with green space and asks if it can plant a garden and receive funding. The company agrees to maintain the green space.

A garden was recently completed this way at the Riverset Credit Union, with students from the University of Pittsburgh and Duquesne University helping with mulching.

Ms. Holliman, who organized the first garden expo, reported that an urban garden expo was held at Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh - South Side over the Valentine’s Day weekend.

Besides Green N’at, the participating organizations included Grow Pittsburgh, Nine Mile Run Watershed Association, Burgh Bees, and others.

There were about 75 attendees, with the SSCC breaking even, Ms. Holliman said. The next expo will feature more booths and speakers.

Green N’at established the annual South Side Garden Tour in 2012. The third Garden Tour will be held on Sunday, Aug. 17.

The committee has applied for a grant with Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh - South Side to plant gardens around the building.

Ms. Mitchell said while Green N’at does some cleanups, it has changed focus “which is a lot more visible.”

She said to contact her if interested in volunteering.

Next, Adam DeSimone of the South Side Bar and Restaurant Association (SSB&RA) called the pilot program for St. Patrick’s Day on the South Side “a huge step in the right direction.”

The plans for March 15 included taxi, valet parking, pedicab, shuttle bus services, and toilet trailer.

It was developed by volunteers of the SSB&RA and the Chamber of Commerce.

Mr. DeSimone said the planning which began at Christmastime could not have reached fruition without the involvement of Kim Collins and Jonathan Growall of the Chamber of Commerce, and Slopes resident Candace Gonzalez.

Ms. Gonzalez was instrumental in their obtaining a $7,000 grant through the URA.

He also acknowledged the support of city Councilman Bruce Kraus and of Jim Peters, founder and president of the Responsible Hospitality Institute (RHI).

“Jim opened a lot of doors and brought a lot of people together,” Mr. DeSimone said.

In his report of the Development Review Committee (DRC), Peter Kreuthmeier said work on a marina will begin this fall with a small vehicle turnaround at the S. Water St. level. A walkway and ramp trail down to a small dock will be built.

In the second year, the URA parcel will be further developed. A parking lot and loading area will be built. Infrastructure and electrical will be installed. There will be more docks.

The marina operator will come to the DRC before the fall.

Regarding the Village Green garage, Mr. Kreuthmeier said the name of “Garage No. 5” is being changed to “Open Hearth Garage” in keeping with the steel industry theme.

It will have 565 parking spaces: 262 for the apartments; 262 for the public; and 39 for the retail tenant. There will be bike racks on the first floor.

The DRC was shown designs and elevations for the Village Green apartments. A few angles and setbacks on the 26th St. side were removed. Rounded edges were eliminated.

Mr. Kreuthmeier said his firm is the architect for the Oxbridge Development’s plan to build five new townhouses alongside six current townhouses at the triangle of land between Josephine and S.18th streets. The project is in the schematic design phase.

A meeting was held the prior evening at the Brashear Center for all stakeholders, with another planned in a few days. He said the developer’s intention is to continue engaging the community on the project.

In announcements, the Annual Historic South Side Home Tour will be held on May 17.

Mary Ellen Solomon, Duquesne University’s new director of government relations, said postcards were sent to students who reside on South Side about responsible celebrating on St. Patrick’s Day.

Duquesne University students will again participate in the annual spring clean-up in the South Side from 9 a.m. to noon on April 12.

Grant Gittlen, community affairs manager in the Mayor’s Office, said winners of the Love Your Block program would be announced on March 17. Forty-five groups applied.

The program was for nonprofit organizations who proposed projects to transform their blocks with a $2,000 award, and the support of key city departments.

He also said the U.S. Dept. of Education will be sending experts to the city to engage in conversations focusing on early childhood, after school, and postsecondary education.

The city was one of 14 nationwide chosen for the discussions.

The next forum meeting will be on April 8, at which Tracy Myers will report on the Neighborhood Plan.

The two scheduled presentations are by representatives of the Brew House Association, and the Student Conservation Association and Rebuilding Together Pittsburgh.

 

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