South Pittsburgh Reporter - Serving South Pittsburgh Since 1939

By Margaret L. Smykla
Contributing Writer 

Planning Forum updated on projects, St. Pat's day plans


Last updated 2/17/2014 at 6:19pm

The new city administration and proposed local projects were the focus of the Feb. 11 South Side Planning Forum. There were no presentations scheduled.

The meeting began with the report of the Development Review Committee (DRC) by Peter Kreuthmeier.

An applicant wants to build a new Domino’s pizza restaurant on a vacant lot and a vacant, water-damaged duplex at 905 East Carson St. The plan is to build the restaurant on the vacant lot and purchase and demolish the duplex for a parking entrance. The project includes a drive-thru.

The DRC is skeptical that the building is worthy of demolition.

In the Hot Metal residential development near UPMC Sports, the project is back on track after being put on hold due to budget and financing issues.

The design is the same but there is a reduction of two floors. Because of this size reduction, there is no longer a need to comply with high-rise construction standards.

Next, city Councilman Bruce Kraus said he is partnering with UPMC Mercy South Side Outpatient Center to open his third satellite office. It launched on Feb. 14 with a reception at the facility.

He also has satellite sites in Arlington and in Oakland.

The Arlington office is manned by Donna Wielock and Arlene Trost, and located at 2320 Arlington Ave. The first year, 1,500 residents stopped in.

``I was shocked at how many people there were,’’ he said.

All the satellite offices are open two days a month for eight hours total. The only cost to taxpayers in the sites is one computer and phone. All the space is donated.

Mr. Kraus said he is interested in opening a fourth office in the East Warrington Ave. area.

To contact his office 24 hours/day, the mobile number is 412-689-1130.

Mr. Kraus introduced Grant Gittlen, community affairs manager in the Mayor’s Office.

Mr. Gittlen said Mayor Peduto’s goal is to figure out what works well and continue it, and to start new programs.

A new website will shortly be launched with a listing of events and organizations city wide.

There will also be links to specific departments so residents can file complaints directly and more efficiently than using the 311 line.

Mr. Gittlen will continue to attend planning forum meetings until his office is established and a staff person is assigned the duty.

He then fielded questions from forum members.

To a comment college students are not clearing their sidewalks, thereby creating a hazardous situation, Mr. Gittlen said he was not sure that could be legislated. Neighbors can call 311, or community organizations could educate them.

Mr. Kraus said neighbors could also knock on students’ doors and suggest they shovel their sidewalks to keep the community nice.

To a question of why some city streets are cleared quickly by road crews and others are not, Mr. Kraus said primary streets come first, then the secondary streets, and the tertiary streets are last.

On another issue, he said he hopes to see a process in place in which the city accepts all neighborhood plans and puts them into practice.

Mr. Gittlen said he is ready to become acquainted with the South Side Neighborhood Plan.

In his update of the South Side Bar and Restaurant Association, attendee Adam DeSimone said some new owners have joined.

The organization is also working with the Responsible Hospitality Institute (RHI) and on master plans for transportation.

Mr. DeSimone said shuttle service is again planned for St. Patrick’s Day.

Candice Gonzalez, formerly of the Mayor’s Office, and who is volunteering as a South Side resident, said meetings are planned about setting up a taxi stand and valet parking service in the South Side.

Grant opportunities are being explored to fund the projects.

Mr. Kraus said there is a connection between late-night mayhem and there being no orderly exodus onto local streets, which he blamed on state law requiring everyone to exit establishments by 2 a.m.

To a question about St. Patrick’s Day parties that begin in some neighborhoods in the early morning, Mr. Kraus said it is a big problem.

One tool to combat it is the ``social host ordinance,’’ the purpose of which is to reduce underage possession and consumption of alcohol by imposing penalties on those who host parties which include underage drinkers.

He also advocates a preemptive approach: ask the neighbors two to three days in advance to keep the noise down.

Mr. DeSimone asked forum members what they thought about having a restroom trailer brought in for St. Patrick’s Day. A sponsor could be sought.

Mr. Kraus said he should consult with the appropriate city department.

Mr. DeSimone said there is a lot of potential in the South Side to turn events into fundraising, as is done in Shadyside.

``It could be a revenue generator for the community,’’ he said.

An attendee said the neighborhood should first work on ways to get together as a community before planning events.

Forum Chair Hugh Brannan said the annual South Side Soup Contest, which will be held for the tenth year on Feb. 22, is a model for fundraisers, and something multiple organizations do together.

All 1,200 tickets available for the event have been sold at $25 apiece.

In announcements, residents should contact the South Side Community Council to suggest homes in the Slopes or Flats for the Historic South Side Home Tour in May.

Mary Ellen Solomon, Duquesne University’s new director of government relations, said she would inform students about appropriate behavior on St. Patrick’s Day, and also remind them about the social host ordinance.

In December, she sent information to students about the ordinance and responsible behavior.

The next forum meeting will be on March 11.


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