South Pittsburgh Reporter - Serving South Pittsburgh Since 1939

By Al Lowe
Contributing Writer 

Mt. Washington property owners say no thanks to creating a NID


The Mount Washington Community Development Corporation has stopped exploring the concept of implementing a neighborhood improvement district.

The announcement was made at the monthly community forum meeting on Nov. 17. Also, 700 letters regarding the MWCDC decision were sent to property owners living within the limits of the proposed NID.

Property owners would have had to agree to an annual fee for NID services which would supplement those provided by the city.

"There was a consensus that there is no point in moving forward with a NID if there is no support for it," Executive Director Chris Beichner said at the meeting.

Nearly 150 people attended a public meeting on Nov. 2 and many of them voiced opposition to the idea. There also had been a public meeting on Sept. 21, along with small group discussions. The intent had been to explain the success of NIDs across the country, discuss services that could be provided and see if this would be a good fit for the Mount.

A third public meeting scheduled for January has been cancelled. The MW CDC has also terminated its relationship with its consultant on the matter, Business Districts Inc. The Urban Redevelopment Authority had provided the funding so far.

In the letter to property owners Mr. Beichner said: "Arrangements had been made with the City to mail out information about the NID and the time and location of the last meeting. That mailing was never sent. The MWCDC takes responsibility for that...The MWCDC at no time endorsed or supported a NID. It was exploring the idea."

Mr. Beichner said his organization welcomed suggestions on addressing public safety and cleanliness issues.

On another matter, Beau Beemsterboer, who plans to build a complex adjacent to the Monogahela Incline, gave an update on his plans. He said he is talking to people in the public sector and he is "working very hard to get financing.

He still intends to build hotel rooms, restaurants, a plaza, spa and fitness center. But he said there is less of a demand for condos and he is considering building apartments instead.

During the designing phase "we took 100 square feet out for efficiency reasons. We didn't really need it. We are maintaining the same look and shape."

The former Edge restaurant has been demolished and the area is "safe, secure and clean."

Charles McClain, from the Department of Public Works, reported to the forum the panels and joints of the retaining wall on Wyoming Street are corroded and rotting away. The city plans to have the street open to one lane of traffic going up the hill while studies are being done and repairs are being made. The engineering study will take four to five months and the city will then need about $500,000 for the repairs.

Another scheduled speaker was Dean Williams, director of the Formerly Convicted Citizens Project. He circulated a petition and was looking for support for his organization's efforts to change what it perceives to be a barrier to employment.

He was referring to the question on employment applications regarding whether the applicant had been found guilty of a felony. He advocates asking the question at the end of an interview, once it had been determined whether the person has been found qualified for the job.

He said many convicts realize they have made mistakes and do not want to do it again - but may feel they have to if they are continually denied employment opportunities.

Douglas Silva, of the Urban League, who accompanied him, said there were 150,000 people in Pittsburgh with criminal histories.

Mr. Williams asked attendees to contact City Councilwoman Theresa Kail-Smith and let her know they are in favor of the proposed change.

Mr. Beichner made a couple of announcements:

Board members elected in October are: Darla D'Anna, Eric Horwith, Pete Karlovich, Breen Masciotra and Edward Preston.

New officers chosen by the board are: Jon Lusin, president; Emily Anderson, vice president; Mr. Preston, secretary; and Gloria Ostermeyer, treasurer.

Marissa Doyle, of the Mayor's Office, introduced herself to the MWCDC.

There are no board or community forum meetings in December.

Mount Washington and Duquesne Heights crime statistics for October were distributed. Reported were: 14 burglaries, 11 acts of criminal mischief, seven acts of harassment, four stolen vehicles, 15 thefts from autos, 10 thefts from persons and two drug arrests.


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