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Student Conservation & Rebuilding Together to work in South Side Slopes


Presentations on the Student Conservation Association (SCA) and Rebuilding Together Pittsburgh were the focus of the February 12 meeting of the South Side Slopes Neighborhood Association.

The meeting began with President Brian Oswald introducing city controller Michael Lamb. He said last year, the city assisted individuals with property assessment appeals, and joined in a lawsuit charging that assessment appeals were unfairly denied.

Mr. Lamb said anyone whose certified appraisals were denied by the county’s Board of Property Assessment Appeals and Review -- whether the individual received city assistance or not in their appeals -- should contact his office at 412-255-2051.

Next, Mr. Oswald said the public safety enforcement blitz of the South Side entertainment district that past weekend yielded these results: 63 inspections, 207 traffic citations, 19 non-traffic citations, two arrests, and 85 towed vehicles.

The four-week blitz total is: 181 inspections, 819 traffic citations, 53 arrests, and 250 towed vehicles.

Mr. Oswald also announced news of recent break-ins in the area.

In the last couple of weeks, two houses on Eleanor St. and one house on Mission St. were burglarized. Two houses on Cobden St. were burglarized a month ago.

Residents should not hesitate to call 911 to report suspicious activity in the neighborhood.

In his brief remarks, new board member Jamin Bogi said the Outreach Committee hopes to engage more Slopes residents in becoming active on the various SSSNA committees.

The plan is to map the Slopes into five or six zones, with active groups in each zone. A paper was then circulated for attendees to sign if they are interested in becoming a volunteer.

Mr. Oswald concluded the announcements by saying Carnegie Mellon University students would be doing clean-up in the area on April 6.

It is part of the school’s “1000plus” day of service program for the greater Pittsburgh community which, this year, is April 6.

In the first presentation, Josh Nard of the Pittsburgh office of the SCA discussed the organization’s spring program for 12 Hilltop youngsters to perform conservation service in South Side Park.

The youths will work Saturdays on trails, signage, clean-up, and more under the supervision of trained, experienced crew leaders. On Thursdays, they will attend workshops in the SCA’s downtown office.

Mr. Nard said residents may join in with the students on Saturdays, but must sign waiver forms in case they are injured while working. Residents may also volunteer to speak with students.

He would like to celebrate Earth Day in South Side Park.

An attendee commented the more the word gets out about the desirability of living on the Slopes, the higher properties values will go. So, the work of SCA is much appreciated, he concluded.

Mr. Nard asked attendees inform him of any possible funding avenues.

In the next presentation, project manager Lindsay Ruprecht said Rebuilding Together Pittsburgh’s focus is providing free home repair assistance to low-income seniors, veterans, and the disabled.

Applicants must own their homes for at least three years, and be current on all taxes.

Besides improving the lives of the homeowner, the program aims to revitalize and stabilize vulnerable neighborhoods, such as working on five to ten homes in a two-block area to make a visible difference.

Rebuilding Together Pittsburgh has two main programs: Operation Urgent Care, which addresses time-sensitive health and safety related issues with paid professionals, and Core Repair.

The latter utilizes volunteers, skilled trades, and funding partners. To that end, volunteers are being sought.

Ms. Ruprecht said she would be going door-to-door that week informing those in need of the program.

City Councilman Bruce Kraus said he has worked with the organization, and it is a very good group. He offered to provide a letter staying it is legitimate, and not a scam, when members approach residents.

Rebuilding Together Pittsburgh is part of a national network, and is also a local non-profit with 501(c)(3) status.

The meeting concluded with brief remarks by Candice Gonzalez of the Mayor’s office, and by Mr. Kraus.

Ms. Gonzalez, who lives on the Slopes, said she participated in her first StepTrek in 2012. As the city’s Neighborhood Initiatives coordinator, she will attend SSSNA meetings on a regular basis.

Chuck Half of the Mayor’s Office, who attended various South Side meetings, has been reassigned, she said.

In his remarks, Mr. Kraus said the city is no longer collecting televisions, computers, and other electronic devices in trash pick-up, as mandated by a new state law.

The items must be taken to an electronics retail store or collection location where they will be recycled.

He said stores like Best Buy, HH Gregg, and Goodwill offer recycle programs at no charge to the consumer.

The next SSSNA meeting will be at 7 p.m. on April 9, which is tentatively planned as a mayoral candidates’ night.


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