South Pittsburgh Reporter - Serving South Pittsburgh Since 1939

By Margaret Smyka
Contributing Writer 

Slopes assoc. reports on successful StepTrek, re-elects five members to board of directors


A board election and an update on the prior Saturday's StepTrek 2011 were the highlights of the Oct. 11 meeting of the South Sides Slopes Neighborhood Association (SSSNA).

The meeting began with StepTrek Chair Brian Oswald sharing details of the most successful StepTrek ever, which grossed $18,500 and netted $7,900. There was a record 1,048 Trekkers.

Rev. Don Ware presented the Elm Street report. He said there are some electrical problems at the pylon at the Triangle Garden, corner of 21st and Josephine streets, which are being tended to.

Two other Elm St. projects are South Side Park and the 18th Street steps. Future lighting at the steps, he said, will highlight the gateway to the South Side.

In her report of the 18th St. project, Elm Street coordinator Judy Dyda said Pius St. and the steps will be closed briefly while LED bars are installed on the steps. Funding will come from a grant from Duquesne Light for $150,380.

In her report of the South Side Neighborhood Improvement District (NID) Steering Committee, Susie Puskar said the process is underway to determine if the community wants to form a NID within the South Side Flats.

She explained in a NID, property owners agree to a self-imposed annual fee for services which supplement those provided by the city. Those services may include additional security, park maintenance, improved parking signage, additional street lighting, and more.

There are currently two BIDs (Business Improvement Districts) in the city: the Pittsburgh Downtown Partnership, and the Oakland Business District. The BIDs were formed in business districts while the proposed NID in South Side would include residential and business properties.

For questions, or to schedule a group meeting, contact Ms. Puskar at 412-481-0651, extension 11, or visit the Steering Committee website at

Sarah Alessio Shea, in the Beautification Committee report, said the SSSNA and the South Side Community Council have partnered with the Mayor's Green Up Pittsburgh Initiative to create community garden plots at Bandi Shaum Field off Mission St. The goal is to have to have it in place by spring, 2012.

Those who would like their own garden plot for next spring, should complete the form at:

For questions on the garden, email sarah.shea@south

In the board elections, the slate of five candidates was elected to two-year terms: Peter Kreuthmeier, Brian Oswald, Mark Zalenchak, Rev. Ware, and Pavel Rjakovlev.

At the next SSSNA board meeting, someone will be appointed to complete the term of Misi Bielich, who has resigned from the board.

Those interested in being considered for the board appointment should contact a board member.

In other news, Chuck Half, of the Mayor's Office, said Halloween in the city will be observed from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. on Oct. 31.

He also reported 524 service requests from South Side were received by the Mayor's 311 line from July 11 through Oct. 10, 2011.

The most frequent complaints were for weeds/debris, potholes, signs-replacement, overgrowth, environmental services violations, building violation - residential, and inspections.

In his update, city councilman Bruce Kraus fielded a question about recent shootings and stabbings in the Flats. He said his focus is where the guns are coming from.

An attendee commented that the violence on the South Side is from the bars and their patrons. He said he likes the principles behind the Responsible Hospitality Institute (RHI) because bars have some responsibility while police enforcement is also important.

Mr. Kraus said he hosted an RHI conference in Pittsburgh.

The non-profit RHI promotes cooperation among those involved in hospitality, safety, and community development groups. RHI's approach is communication, cooperation, consensus, commitment, and collaboration among stakeholders.

Mr. Kraus said city council unanimously allocated $100,000 to bring the RHI to Pittsburgh to deal with the effects of the South Side bar saturation, but the mayor will not sign the legislation to spend the money.

He called drinking on the South Side "a huge, huge problem." While many cities have a thriving nightlife, he said, they also have a plan of action.

"It is time to bring in the professionals," he said of RHI.

Questioned about multiple unrelated people living in a single-family home, Mr. Kraus said a "broad look" is needed at the issue of off-campus students, adding they bring problems for the Bureau of Building Inspection (BBI), Public Works, EMS, and the Police Department.

"Once we manufactured steel. Today, we manufacture students," he said.

But he said three unrelated people residing in one house is a BBI enforcement issue.

Last year, he allocated money for eight new building inspectors, but the mayor will not proceed with the hires.

Mr. Kraus said to call 311 and his office to report multiple unrelated people in a single-family house. If one of their cars is parked illegally, call 911.

In other news, Mr. Kraus, who has been a Carnegie Library board member for four years, said a $4 million renovation of the library on Carson St. is ongoing. The renovation includes new windows, handicap-accessible door, installation of wireless internet, children's area, and more.

"It shows other things we can do on East Carson St. that does not require alcohol," he said.

He asked voters to vote "yes" on Nov. 8 for the community-based initiative, "Our Library, Our Future."

If approved by a majority of the voters, a separate tax of 0.25 mills will be levied on all real estate in the City of Pittsburgh.

All money raised by the tax would be used to aid in the maintenance and operation of Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh, and cannot be used for any other purpose.


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