South Pittsburgh Reporter - Serving South Pittsburgh Since 1939

By Margaret Smyka
Contributing Writer 

S. S. Community Council in store for some welcoming and challenging responsibilites


In her opening remarks at the June 25 annual Open Meeting of South Side Community Council, Cathy Mitchell talked about her first year as president and its challenges, such as the disbanding of the South Side Local Development Company (SSLDC).

It resulted in "welcoming and challenging responsibilities" for the Community Council, she said.

In other organizational news, Graffiti Watch is working very hard, she said.

The community garden at Bandi Shaum Field, 18th and Mission streets, is a big accomplishment. The garden is a joint effort of the South Side Community Council, South Side Slopes Neighborhood Association (SSSNA), Grow Pittsburgh, and the city's Dept. of Public Works.

New for the Community Council is the Historic South Side Home Tour held on May 19.

"By all accounts, it was a huge success," she said. It means "meaningful revenue" for the first time.

She said the Community Council is part of the South Side Planning Forum and, as such, is looking at letter-writing campaigns in an effort to be pro-active on behalf of the neighborhood about the entertainment district.

Ms. Mitchell then introduced some of the board members in attendance like Jim Battista, public safety chair, who would like to get more people involved with the safety committee. He said he sees bright lighting as a community need.

Board member Michael Clark said parking is a big issue in the South Side.

Last year, he started a parking project from 10th to 30th streets to count the number of parking spots, and then figure out how many cars come here on weekends. No statistics exist on the matter, he said.

He also attends monthly meetings of the Responsible Hospitality Institute (RHI) to share best practices.

Ms. Mitchell called board member Matt Scoletti, who was not present, "the absolute cheerleader of the South Side." He has gotten younger people involved through the Community Council's partnership with Prince of Peace Parish hosting monthly volleyball tournaments.

"Everyone needs to be involved in their community," said Wanda Jankoski, the Community Council's membership chair, and the liaison to the South Side Planning Forum. She is a former member of the bar task force.

She said when new liquor application signs go up in buildings they must fight them. She also said to contact Councilman Bruce Kraus.

"He is our partner," she said.

Next was guest speaker Tim Ishman, the new assistant parks and recreation director for the city, who has 30 years experience in the field. He is responsible for the programming, such as the pools and parks.

"We're always open for ideas and suggestions," he said.

The city operates 18 swimming pools, 10 community centers, 14 senior community centers, and more.

The Market House opened that day. It should be completely up and running in September-October.

"Market House is the new standard for seniors in Pittsburgh," he said.

"You have some of the key components that make the South Side what it is," he said of the Market House, Ormsby Community Center, and the Oliver Bath House.

With the latter's indoor pool there is year-round swimming.

Mr. Ishman said the department has more than 400 employees in the summer, and 160 year-round.

To a question about Riverfront Park, Mr. Kraus said it is an Urban Redevelopment Authority of Pittsburgh (URA) park.

It is currently in limbo until a permanent solution is found for its maintenance. The issue is that the city cannot take on an asset without funding.

To a question about opening the pools earlier in the day, Mr. Ishman said it comes down to resources as staff would be needed.

In his brief presentation, Mr. Kraus said the dog park is very close to completion as all fencing and landscaping is in. Two acres have been cleared for the new off-leash dog exercise area in Riverfront Park.

The hydro-seeding is the last stumbling block. He hoped to have it open by July 1.

In other news, he said as of that day a liquor license notice for a new after-hours club on 17th St. was not property posted. The lease must also be secured first, which it was not.

To a question about a new strategy for selectively opposing new liquor licenses, Mr. Kraus said the community is not trying to be prohibitionists. But the problems resulting from too many liquor establishments on South Side are well-known.

Recently, after a man was shot in District 3, 2009 E. Carson St., the owners agreed to close the nightclub and sell or transfer their liquor license. Formerly called Town Tavern, the establishment was on the nuisance watch list at least six years, he said.

The problems are also garnering newspaper attention, such as a recent story in the Post-Gazette in which Mr. Kraus and the reporter walked on East Carson one weekend around closing time.

A recent editorial in the newspaper said that the millions of dollars invested in the South Side need to be protected.

"I truly feel there is good movement," he said.


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