South Pittsburgh Reporter - Serving South Pittsburgh Since 1939

By Margaret L. Smykla
Contributing Writer 

Division 4 building to be demolished, workers, responsibilities reassigned

 

October 17, 2017

Division 4 headquarters will be closed and the workers reassigned before the building is demolished in November. A city study has determined the building is unsafe and should be razed.

Next month's demolition of Public Works' 4th Division facility was a focus of the Oct. 10 meeting of the South Side Planning Forum.

City operations director Guy Costa said the building will be razed as it is unsafe. A study revealed that the roof of the structure could collapse under a snowfall. The building also has mold and asbestos.

Located on Bausman St. in Knoxville, Division 4 serves the South Hills, including the South Side Flats and Slopes.

All employees will be retained and reassigned to Division 5 and Division 3, from which services will be delivered to Division areas.

Jeff Cook, of Division 3, will oversee operations in the Division 4 areas. Mr. Costa said local services will not be affected.

"This is not a decision we took lightly," city Councilman Bruce Kraus said.

He said he told officials that he wants to see an upgrade in services for the Division 4 areas. He also said Mr. Cook is a good friend to his office, so he expects very good service. Mr. Costa said residents will see a "committed person" in Mr. Cook in his South Side neighborhood in which he resides.

Public Works is responsible for street cleaning, snow removal, cutting grass and weeds along roadside, pothole patching, and more.

Mr. Costa said Mayor Peduto wants him to come up with a long-range plan in a year on the best use of the Public Works' six divisions.

The next presentation was by John Fournier, director of on-street and metered parking, and Allison Harnden, the city's nighttime economy coordinator.

Mr. Fournier said the new Parking Enforcement District (PED) -- the enforcement of South Side Flats parking meters from 6 p.m. to midnight on Fridays and Saturdays – began March 17.

There was a grace period from 6 p.m. to midnight on Fridays and Saturdays, ending April 21. During the grace period, instead of a ticket for violators, they received an "Oops Card."

The Oops Card outlined the new hours, costs, and a free option for parking: The Pittsburgh Parking Authority's Second Ave. lot and free shuttle service.

The Flats became the first neighborhood to be designated a PED in the city.

The increased revenue from the South Side PED will go to public safety, cleanliness, and infrastructure improvements in the neighborhood. It cannot be accessed until February, 2018.

Mr. Kraus said the city is hoping to reach $200,000 the first year, or more than $1 million in five years.

He also said the new 12th to 17th East Carson St. safety zone is being reexamined.

Police asked for safety lane on Friday and Saturday evenings as congestion makes it difficult, if not impossible, for police and public safety vehicles to make quick passage if an emergency arises.

While there are meters, motorists may not park on the South Side of East Carson St. from 12th to 17th streets on Fridays and Saturdays from 10 p.m. to 2 a.m.

Mr. Kraus said police have asked that it be extended until 3 to 4 a.m. It will also give Public Works an entry into the neighborhood to clean.

Barbara Rudiak, of the South Side Community Council (SSCC), said there is trash on weekends on sidewalks at 7 a.m., which is unpleasant for residents and visitors. She asked what was the best cost-effective way to handle the problem.

Mr. Kraus said he would like to explore business partnerships, such as with a convenience store. He said purchases there, such as a single-use container, frequently end up in the street as litter on weekends. On weekend mornings, trash can be followed to GetGo, where the items were often purchased.

To an attendee's question about all of the empty storefronts on Carson St., Mr. Kraus said a proposed project involving the Urban Redevelopment Authority of Pittsburgh (URA) and the city will look at this.

At past forum meetings, Josette Fitzgibbons, neighborhood business district manager for the URA, discussed plans for an East Carson St. business district strategy.

The project will include: working with URA staff and others to collect data for the corridor; surveying businesses and customers to determine the current retail and hospitality market; and developing recommendations for the implementation of the plan.

The hope is that there is a plan in place by mid-2018.

Tracy Myers, chair of the Development Review Committee (DRC), also commented that the Soffer Organization recently created a joint venture with a company for management of the SouthSide Works, so empty properties there will be addressed.

In her report of the DRC, Ms. Myers said an investor/developer is interested in converting the upper levels of some businesses into residential. But parking is an issue.

"It will take creative problem solving," she said.

She would like it known if anyone is interested in a similar conversion, the DRC can help provide information.

In announcements, Blake McLaren is the new South Side Slopes Neighborhood Association (SSSNA) representative to the forum. Dawn Lorincy will be the alternate.

The annual get-together between Duquesne University students and residents is planned for Oct. 25 from 5-7 p.m. at the Market House. The Duquesne University – South Side Neighborhood Social will be hosted by the university with the South Side Chamber of Commerce.

"It gives us an opportunity to know the students a little better," Ms. Rudiak said.

She also reported the SSCC's annual holiday pie sale is accepting orders at https://mkt.com.sscc. Orders will be available for pick-up on Nov. 10-11 at Prince of Peace Parish Center.

The 100th Anniversary of the Brashear Association will be celebrated as "The Night of a Thousand Stars" on October 19 at the Heinz History Center. A reception begins at 5:30 p.m., with dinner at 7:00. Details are available at brashearcentennial.eventbrite.com.

The SSSNA's annual StepTrek, a non-competitive, self-guided walking tour of the Slopes, was held on Oct. 7, and was a big success, with a gross income of $22,506. There were 528 paid attendees.

Candice Gonzalez, of the South Side Chamber of Commerce, reported that from January to September, the Welcome Center had 288 clean-up volunteers for 2,146 hours of donated cleanup community service work. There were 2,994 Center visitors from around the world.

The annual Small Business Saturday will be held all day Nov. 25.

The annual Chamber Mittens & Mingles Fundraiser for the Welcome Center will be held on Dec. 7 from 6-10 p.m. at Clear Story Studio, 1931 Sidney at S. 20th streets.

The next forum meeting will be on Nov. 14. Mr. Brannan said Brian Katze, the city's special events manager, will be the guest speaker.

 

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