South Pittsburgh Reporter - Serving South Pittsburgh Since 1939

By Margaret L. Smykla
Contributing Writer 

2018 to be a year of infrastructure projects in South Pittsburgh

 

January 16, 2018

A redesign for the 18th and Josephine streets intersection is one of three "projects with shovels" coming to South Side Flats and Slopes in 2018.

Pittsburgh city Councilman Bruce Kraus stopped by the January 9 meeting of the South Side Slopes Neighborhood Association (SSSNA) to declare 2018 "The Year of Infrastructure."

He then presented brief summaries on three upcoming local "projects with shovels."

One project will be the reinstallation of traffic signals in the 18th St. corridor at Carson, Sarah, and Jane streets.

A rebuilt intersection at 18th and Josephine streets will result in additional lights and the redesign of the intersection to increase safety. Funding will be from a roughly $2 million federal grant.

A second project will be the 21st St. watershed, which has been in the works for years.

It will extend from 21st St. to Carson St. with the goal of connecting South Side Park through 21st St. to the Monongahela River.

The project, which will take a year to complete, will be done in sections.

A third project will be the East Carson St. renovation from Smithfield St. to Carson and Sarah streets, or about 33 blocks. The $11 million project will be done in sections by the state Dept. of Transportation (PennDOT).

It will include new traffic signals, street resurfacing, new crosswalks, and more. The main goal is to increase pedestrian and vehicular safety.

Mr. Kraus said Mayor William Peduto is working on erecting historic street lights to be paid for with city funds.

To a question about the Mission St. Bridge, which is a major thoroughfare, Mr. Kraus said there is nothing new to report. The bridge is structurally sound, he said. But he called the sidewalk and road surface "a disaster."

The meeting began with a Slopes crime review for 2017 by Zone 3 Commander Karen Dixon, who reported there was an eight percent decrease in reported crime.

The biggest problem last month was break-ins. A 53-year-old seasoned criminal was arrested for those crimes that day – January 9 – after being identified by a Pius St. resident, she said. Charges have been filed.

Commander Dixon said if anyone sees a crime occurring, to call 911. Jot down a good description, if possible.

In 2017, there was a homicide on Mission St., which was solved; eight robberies; 11 aggravated assaults; and 40 burglaries. Thefts are the biggest crime.

To a question about the difference between a robbery, theft, and burglary, Commander Dixon said that in a robbery, a person is involved, such as telling someone to hand over their wallet. Theft simply involves taking something. A burglary has to do with a structure.

Package thefts are also a problem, she said. Sometimes victims do not want to go to court to prosecute as it can take hours out of a workday, and postponements may even occur, which means the victim must appear again on another day.

Additionally, companies, such as Amazon, often replace the stolen item immediately, which lessens the victim's resolve to pursue prosecution. As a result, many such thefts go unreported.

Commander Dixon also said it is very frustrating to read in police reports about all of the items stolen from vehicles, and which should never have been left in clear view in the first place.

Another thing residents should not do is heat up their cars and leave them running in driveways or on streets. Criminals can simply jump in and drive away.

To a question about a random shooting last month on Second Ave. in Oakland, she said there are no suspects.

To a question about drugs, Commander Dixon said there is drug-related activity in the Slopes.

An attendee said it is very obvious that a resident living near his home is dealing drugs. He calls 911, but nothing seems to happen.

Commander Dixon said to keep calling as the police need to know the area where such activities are occurring. Calling 311 is also good.

With suspected drug houses, the police have to determine who is coming and going. Jotting down license plate numbers is very helpful.

"The more information we get, the better," she said.

She also reported other law-enforcement agencies are also working on the Slopes.

To a question about the problems caused by college students living on the Slopes, she said the zone receives a lot of noise complaints emanating from loud parties.

She said to email her at karen.dixon@pittsburghpa.gov with any further information or questions from the evening's meeting. In the subject line, write "request from the Slopes meeting," to ensure it does not get lost in all of the email she receives.

Next, SSSNA board President Kristin Raup said anyone is welcome to join any of the organization's five committees: Beautification, Outreach, StepTrek, Zoning and City Services, and South Side Park Committee/Task Force.

Briefly, the Beautification Committee plants, weeds, and tends the gardens and walkways. Litter pick-up is a focus, with gloves and bags supplied. In general, the committee addresses issues relative to making the Slopes a more beautiful place to live.

The goal of the Outreach Committee is to increase involvement in the SSSNA.

The StepTrek Committee is responsible for promoting, planning, and staging the annual October event, which is the Slopes' biggest fundraiser, and a showcase to visitors of all that the Slopes has to offer.

The Zoning and City Services Committee works to improve the housing stock by eliminating derelict properties, maintaining existing homes, and fostering home ownership. Representatives attend zoning hearings to promote responsible development of the Slopes.

The South Side Park Committee/Task Force Committee works to promote the park. Currently, members are busy contributing to the community participatory process regarding a master plan for South Side Park.

A $40,000 grant was received from the state Dept. of Conservation and Natural Resources (DCNR). The city matched the grant, for a total of $80,000 to design a plan.

South Side Park Committee chair Donna Tarkett said there will be four community events conducted by the city, Studio Bryan Hanes and Friends of South Side Park for the master plan process. They will be held from 5-8 p.m. on Jan. 18, Feb. 15, March 15, and April 19 at the Arlington Recreation Center, 2201 Salisbury St.

The meetings will include stations with activities, childcare, and activities for children. There will be food.

Everyone is encouraged to stop by at any time during the three-hour public meetings and contribute their ideas, concerns and desires for an improved South Side Park.

More details and dates are available on the city's website: http://pittsburghpa.gov/dcp/projects/south-side-park/schedule.html.

Attendees were then asked to view photos of amenities from numerous parks, and write their responses on the back on whether they would like to see that particular feature in South Side Park.

The activity will also be conducted during the four community events.

The next general meeting of the SSSNA will be at 7 p.m. on March 13 at the Henry Kaufmann House, 2201 Salisbury St.

 

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