South Pittsburgh Reporter - Serving South Pittsburgh Since 1939

By Margaret Smyka
Contributing Writer 

Slopes Association sets priorities for 2008


A look-back at last month's StepTrek, and a look-ahead to 2008 priorities, were the focus of the Nov. 13 meeting of the South Sides Slopes Neighborhood Association.

Bev Boggio said StepTrek 2007, the seventh annual self-guided walking tour of the Slopes held on Oct. 14, featured the best weather of all prior StepTreks.

New this year were different routes. The "Gold" route went through St. Michael Cemetery and South Side Park. The "Black" route had a wider loop of travel than prior routes.

Also for the first time the 70 volunteers were given box lunches.

Ms. Boggio said she never received so much positive feedback about a StepTrek as she did for this one.

This week, the StepTrek committee will meet to discuss what worked and what didn't so as to make StepTrek 2008 even better!

StepTrek is the major source of operating funds for the SSSNA.

City Councilman-elect Bruce Kraus informed attendees that a public hearing would be held (Nov. 14) in council chambers regarding permanent encroachments on public sidewalks, such as with Folino's Restaurant. There, a fence has been used to separate the sidewalk seating.

Mr. Kraus feels the fence is a permanent structure in violation of city code, which requires removable barriers for such outdoor seating.

Interested persons should call or email council to express their opinions until a vote is taken, most likely in 2008.

Even non-city residents should have input, he said, as Carson St. is a regional attraction.

In her brief remarks on Elm Street work, Judy Dyda mentioned uses of the Elm Street funds. One possible use is to partner with the city to hire an engineering firm for an assessment of the Neville Ice Arena and its equipment.

Another use is financing an engineering study of the steps at the gateway garden on S. 18th St. to determine the cost of repairing the steps.

A streetscape design of the S. 18th St. corridor is planned. "We want to make it prettier," she said, adding that any design by an engineering firm must be affordable.

President Brad Palmisiano reminded attendees of the SSSNA mission: to maintain, foster, and improve the quality of life, safety, and unity of the Slopes neighborhood.

To that end, attendees broke into four groups — outreach, clean-up and safety, beautification, and housing and zoning – to discuss ideas for priorities for 2008. Fifteen minutes later, each group summarized their suggestions.

The outreach group said the outreach committee's goal is to make new residents feel welcome, to encourage their participation in the SSSNA, and to increase membership.

To that end, a walk-about should be undertaken in the spring to pass out information about the organization. New residents must be invited to participate in the group.

A planned new brochure should be mailed to all Slopes residents.

In the clean-up and safety group, it was stressed that communication is very important: if you see a street is very dirty or overrun with graffiti, email Paul Lorincy, chair of the Cleanups and Safety Committee.

Mr. Lorincy said "numbers are the biggest problem," as more volunteers are needed.

In the beautification group, finding sites for additional gardens was a stated goal. Using more community service workers, and seeking funds to help maintain the gardens, is also a priority.

For housing and zoning, there is a need to maintain relationships with the police, Public Works Dept., and the Bureau of Building Inspection. A goal is to get problem properties in front of the city so eventually something has to be done.

The next SSSNA meeting will be the Annual Holiday Party on Dec. 11 at 7 p.m. at the St. Paul of the Cross Retreat Center.

You need not be a SSSNA member to attend. If you like, you may bring a homemade dish or purchased items of your choice. But that is not required.

To volunteer, or for questions, call Janice Serra at 412-381-5855.


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