South Pittsburgh Reporter - Serving South Pittsburgh Since 1939

By Margaret L. Smykla
Contributing Writer 

UPMC Mercy, PED spending disscussed at Planning Forum

 

August 7, 2018



Updates on the UPMC Mercy South Side Outpatient Center, East Carson St. business district strategy, and the South Side Parking Enhancement District (PED) were presented at the July 31 meeting of the South Side Planning Forum.

The first presentation was by UPMC officials: Vice President of Operations Julie Hecker, and Vice President of Construction and Real Estate Eric Cartwright.

Ms. Hecker said as of July, various services were relocated from UPMC Mercy South Side Outpatient Center.

The relocated services are: surgery, to UPMC Montefiore; gastroenterology procedure lab, pain procedure room, and ophthalmology to UPMC Mercy; and infusion services, to UPMC Magee.

Other services, such as outpatient radiology (x-ray) and outpatient rehabilitation, will remain until next spring when they will be relocated a few blocks away at the UPMC outpatient services building at 23rd and Jane streets.

There will be no disruption in services until they are moved in the spring, Ms. Hecker said.

Mr. Cartwright stated previously the impetus for the changes is a building analysis which revealed close to $30 million in repairs are needed to meet infrastructure standards for hospitals as building codes have changed over the years.

No decision has been made on where to relocate two floors of more than 200 information technology (IT) personnel.

One idea is to consolidate other UPMC IT departments throughout the city after redeveloping the building as an IT site. Others have different views.

“So, the long-term fate in that building is not determined yet,” Mr. Cartwright said. He favors redeveloping the building as it is a good location with ample parking.

If redeveloped, the building could hold 800 to 1000 people. By November, UPMC will determine whether to redevelop it as an IT center or to relocate people.

“One thousand people could stimulate the business district,” forum member Tracy Myers said.

Next, Josette Fitzgibbons, neighborhood business district manager for the Urban Redevelopment Authority of Pittsburgh (URA), presented a brief update on the East Carson St. business district strategy, for which a public workshop was held on July 12.

The URA and the city, along with several South Side community groups, have been working to develop a community-driven, three- to five-year business district blueprint for strengthening East Carson St. from S. 10th Street to S. 25th Street.

Plan funding is through the URA and the city.

Ms. Fitzgibbons said South Side (15203 zip code) leads job growth in the area with a 35 percent increase in jobs from 2005-2015, well above the 7 percent of Pittsburgh and 2 percent for the market area (10-minute drive time).

There was also growth in the number of residents. The South Side population increased from 8,933 in 2000 to 10,015 in 2016. At the same time, the populations of Pittsburgh and the market area declined.

Regarding the nighttime economy, $12 million is paid in taxes and parking fees a year to the city.

“East Carson Street is an economic generator,” she said.

Following compilation of the public input collected that evening, a final public report will be emailed to those who attended the workshop at the end of August.

But it is not the end of the report, she said.

In the fall, the evening’s attendees will be contacted again to be part of committees to determine the next steps.

A long-term strategy could be an organization with a staff person, or “eyes on the ground,” Ms. Fitzgibbons said.

Next, Councilman Bruce Kraus delivered an update on the South Side Parking Enhancement District (PED).

The PED -- the enforcement of South Side Flats parking meters from 6 p.m. to midnight on Fridays and Saturdays – began March, 2017.

The revenue from the South Side PED is in a trust fund to be invested back in the area. The money must go to public safety, cleanliness, and infrastructure improvements in the neighborhood.

He said, as of today, about $300,000 has been collected.

According to the agreement, money collected in 2017, or $133,000, may be utilized at this time. To that end, high-resolution cameras were purchased for $24,000, and are up and running in the area.

A litter-eating machine, with enhancements that raise the cost to $60,000, is being considered, but with no commitment made. There will be a demonstration in September. The machine is very noisy, he said.

He and nighttime economy coordinator Allison Harnden met with Jeremy Walter of the Downtown Partnership to see if it was okay to “piggyback” on their contract for services. They offered graffiti removal, power washing of sidewalks, street sweeping, and more.

One proposal, through December, was for 8 hours, 3 days a week for an estimated $16,000.

Another proposal, through December, was for 2 employees for 4 days at an estimated $41,000.

With road work set to begin in late August from Smithfield to the 3100 block, the question was whether to have a “clean team” out at this time.

Mr. Kraus said yes, especially power washing of the sidewalks before and during construction.

“They are an embarrassment,” he said, citing gum and grease and other detriments on the sidewalks.

Due to the pending construction, Holiday lights cannot be erected this year. However, he would like to use PED funds to buy quality Holiday lights that work well with the planned new lighting, and to pay for their erection and storage.

He also wants to use PED funds for other enhancements, such as maintaining hanging flower baskets, which would be changed seasonally. The baskets would initially be hung from 10th to 17th streets.

“It’s really such a good time right now.

“I’m excited about what’s to come in the next two years,” he said.

Next, Ms. Myers, chair of the Development Review Committee (DRC), there are a number of projects in early development, with details to come at the next planning forum meeting.

Regarding the South Side Neighborhood Plan, Ms. Myers said “very cordial letters” were sent to every known business owner in the 15203 Zip Code reminding them of their responsibility for the clearing of refuse, debris, snow, and more from the public sidewalks fronting their building.

The letters were prompted by the East Carson Street strategy study of the URA and city which concluded snow, ice, weeds, and more on sidewalks are not appealing to customers.

The South Side Community Council is also working to make sure residents are aware of their responsibility in keeping their property’s sidewalks clear, all of which is part of the city code.

Ms. Myers also reported the Sept. 11 meeting of the South Side Planning Forum will be treated as an annual meeting, with board members of the member organizations to be invited, and with a focus on historic preservation and what it means to be an historical district.

That ties in with this year being the 25th Anniversary of the historical designation for East Carson St.

In related news, the designation will be celebrated with “South Side Voices: Stories on Carson,” to be held from 7 to 9 p.m. on Aug. 15 at the Hamburg Studio, City Theatre. South Side residents will share their memories of East Carson Street.

The $50 ticket cost includes appetizers and drinks. Proceeds benefit the continuation of the South Side Voices project through the South Side Community Council. Tickets may be purchased at: showclix.com/event/ssvoices.

“It is the only historic business district in the city,” Ms. Myers said.

Next, Ernest Rajakone, of the city’s Office of Community Affairs, announced the city is accepting applications for the fall 2018 class of the Civic Leadership Academy.

The Academy is a free, 11-week course for residents who want to learn about the operations, programs and services of the city’s departments, offices, bureaus and authorities. Classes, which will be held Wednesday evenings, are taught by leaders and employees of city government and authorities.

It is open to anyone who lives in, or owns and operates a business, within the city limits.

Applications are due on Aug. 15. To apply, visit: http://pittsburghpa.gov/servepgh/cla/application.html

In other news, the 101st Anniversary of the Brashear Association will be celebrated on the evening of October 25. Details to follow.

Mr. Brannan reported that the organization’s “Christmas in July” toy drive held on July 11 at Trixie’s on E. Carson St. went well. Attendees brought new, unwrapped toys and cash donations.

The annual drive begins in the summer so as not to run short of toys in December.

The next forum meeting will be on Sept 11.

 

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