South Pittsburgh Reporter - Serving South Pittsburgh Since 1939

By Margaret L. Smykla
Contributing Writer 

Business plan for South Side

 

A Parking Enforcement District (PED) update, the city's new fireboat, and a future business plan for East Carson St. were among the topics at the May 9 meeting of the South Side Planning Forum.

The latter was addressed by Josette Fitzgibbons, neighborhood business district manager for the Urban Redevelopment Authority of Pittsburgh (URA).

She began with an update on business-related activities. First, more than 1,600 people attended the Main Street Now Conference on May 1-3 in Pittsburgh. There were bus tours, educational sessions, mobile workshops, and more. There was a four-hour bus tour of the South Side business district, with stops at Station Square, the historic corridor, and SouthSide Works.

She also reported that the Fire Department's new, modern fireboat will be parked at Riverfront Park's public dock until a permanent site can be found.

Fires can be fought from the boat. Fire officials wanted the park site as crews in three nearby fire stations can operate the boat.

Regarding a business plan for East Carson St., she said she and Kyra Straussman, the URA's director of neighborhood business district programs, have discussed for the past year that there is not an organization working for the revitalization of the business district since the closing of the South Side Local Development Co. (SSLDC).

But before that can occur, an "actual business plan" for Carson St. must be devised, which means a consultant must be retained.

Among the goals is for the consultant, working with the community, to come up with a plan. Another goal is to help the community develop resources to fund a staff person. The URA does not fund a staff person, she said.

"This is really a good time to be taking inventory," city Councilman Bruce Kraus said. "There are so many moving parts on East Carson St. in business and retail," he said. He said he, Ms. Fitzgibbons, and Ms. Straussman have worked closely on this project.

"In the same way we were at the beginning of the revitalization of the business district in the early 1980s we are now in the next stage," Mr. Kraus said.

The URA board approved $20,000 funding last month. The city approved $20,000 funding with the 2017 budget.

Ms. Fitzgibbons said a comprehensive study of East Carson St. has not been conducted in years.

"This is the time to get away from the anecdotes and get the facts," she said. It would complement the South Side Neighborhood Plan.

She plans to put out an RFP (request for proposal) for a consultant by mid-summer, and begin the planning process by the end of summer. Public meetings will be held, and the Planning Forum will be kept informed of proceedings.

She hopes there is a plan in place by Spring, 2018.

At her conclusion, Candice Gonzalez, executive director of the South Side Chamber of Commerce, thanked Ms. Fitzgibbons for leading the bus tour in the South Side for the Main Street Now attendees.

Ms. Fitzgibbons provided the historical background of the revitalization of East Carson St. after the steel mills closed, and the development of the SouthSide Works.

Guests walked around the Three Rivers Heritage Trail, South Shore boat marina, and SouthSide Works shops.

Ms. Gonzalez, who was also on the tour, briefed the group on the number and types of businesses, demographics, and the defining topography of the South Side business district and businesses.

She said tour guests were surprised at the 1.5-mile length and diversity of the South Side business district, the close proximity to the city's downtown, and direct access to bicycle trails and riverfront attractions.

In old business, Brad Palmisiano of the South Side Slopes Neighborhood Association will be joining the South Side Neighborhood Plan Committee. Its next meeting is May 18.

At its June meeting, the committee plans to discuss infrastructure and maintenance issues.

In other news, the Zoning Board of Adjustment approved the Edwards Communities Development Corp.'s request to construct a multi-unit residential structure (320-340 dwelling units) with integral parking on Wharton St. near the Birmingham Bridge.

Next, Mr. Kraus said city council just passed the funds for tracking software to be installed on litter cans to let the Dept. of Public Works know when the cans are full.

He also said council okayed $275,000 for free water filters and lead test kits for city residents, which is the first phase of the city's Safe Water plan. The total cost is $1 million, the remainder which will paid by Columbia Gas. For more information, visit: http://pittsburghpa.gov/safepgh2o/.

Mr. Kraus also reported that portions of these South Side streets are scheduled for paving this year: 0.06 miles of Mary St .; 0.13 miles of Sarah St .; 0.15 miles of Bingham St .; and 0.5 miles of the South Side Riverfront Park access road.

He also said a motorist recently drove into the 18th St. Steps, causing minor damage. The city will pursue the driver's insurance carrier to cover costs.

Regarding the new PED, the enforcement of South Side Flats parking meters from 6 p.m. to midnight on Fridays and Saturdays began March 17.

In six weeks, $30,000 was collected. All of the funds will go to public safety and public works improvements in the South Side.

Mr. Kraus said he met with personnel from Primanti Bros., City Theatre, Rex Theater, Dive Bar & Grille, and other neighborhood establishments near the three stops of the free shuttle service to better inform them of the benefits to their customers and employees.

The Nite Rider shuttle originates at the Second Ave. parking plaza (Second Ave. and 10th St. Bridge) with stops at: Bedford Square, S. 18th at Sidney St., and S. 21st at East Carson St. For more information, visit ssniterider.com .

The free Friday shuttle runs from 6 p.m. to 4 a.m., and on Saturdays from 4 p.m. to 4 a.m. There is no cost to the city.

He said the businesses are encouraged to promote the shuttles with their employees as it frees up meters on weekends, which is beneficial to businesses. It is also safer for employees who leave work in the early hours with cash tips.

In other news, Ms. Gonzalez reported that during January-April, the Welcome Center had 150 volunteers for 1,192 volunteer hours worked, and 1,217 visitors.

A plan in progress is OpenStreetsPGH, which will be held from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Sunday, May 28.

This will be the third year for the event in which three miles of city streets, including part of East Carson St., will be closed to traffic from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. for joggers, bicyclists, walkers, runners, dancers, and skaters to use the streets for fun in a car-free environment.

Along the route there will be health offerings, like Zumba workouts, childrens' activities, informational tents for businesses/nonprofits, and more.

She also reported that the South Side Summer Golf Classic, co-hosted by the Chamber and the South Side Bar and Restaurant Association, will be held on July 31 at the South Hills Country Club.

For information on any chamber events, email Ms. Gonzalez at info@southsidechamber.org. 

In other upcoming events, the 26th Annual Historic South Side Home Tour will be held on May 20. To volunteer, visit the South Side Community Council website.

The Brashear Association will host a retirement party for Christine Gaus, who retired earlier this year, from 5-7 p.m. on May 24 at the Double Wide Grill, 2339 East Carson St. Appetizers will be provided. There will be a cash bar.

 The next forum meeting will be on June 13.

 

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