South Pittsburgh Reporter - Serving South Pittsburgh Since 1939

By Margaret L. Smykla
Contributing Writer 

South Side updated on developments, organization plans


Updates filled most of the April 14 meeting of the South Side Planning Forum in which there were no presentations.

In his report of the Development Review Committee (DRC), Peter Kreuthmeier said developers of the Village Green parking garage will go before the city Zoning Board of Adjustment regarding signage.

Some of the signs recommended for the garage by the Urban Redevelopment Authority of Pittsburgh (URA) are very large, and therefore do not follow guidelines. DRC chair Tracy Myers said she is trying to set up a meeting soon with the URA about the signage.

She also reported the South Side marina is under construction in phases. The full-service marina will be located adjacent to Riverfront Park near 26th St.

To a question on when it will open, Ms. Myers said she would look into it. It was reported at some point earlier that it would open in spring, 2015.

In the neighborhood plan update, Ms. Myers said she will invite Kyra Straussman of the URA to explain what the plan means to the city.

The committee also wants to understand “how the city can help,” she said.

Ms. Myers said she will also acquire neighborhood plan models from Ray Gastil, the city’s new director of the Department of City Planning, who spoke at last month’s forum meeting.

At that time, he said he had models he wanted to recommend to the neighborhood plan committee.

On another topic, she said three candidate firms made presentations for a new development of four or five three-story townhouses on vacant land on Fox Way and Wharton St. between 18th and 19th streets.

The URA, which owns the land, chose the most traditional-looking proposal. The developer has 90 days to negotiate the sale. After that, design development will begin.

Next, Candice Gonzalez, executive director of the South Side Chamber of Commerce, recapped the public safety, transportation, and parking arrangements for the March 14 St. Patrick’s Parade Day celebration.

She began by reminding attendees that the plan was a success despite having no grant funding this year.

To briefly summarize, there were 330 cars valet parked at three locations: southwest corner of 21st St. at E. Carson; E. Carson at 18th St. parking authority lot; and in the First National Bank lot between 11th and 12th streets on E. Carson.

This was the first year for three valet parking locations.

Twenty pedicabs carried 1,300 riders.

There were 30 portable toilets between 12th and 25th streets, and 45 large cardboard trash boxes along E. Carson St.

The sidewalk/curbside clean-up teams consisted of 20 volunteers/190 hours worked Friday afternoon to Sunday noon.

She said while the Dept. of Public Works did a great job cleaning up most of the mess at 3 a.m., volunteers -- including herself and Duquesne University students -- followed up with a 7 a.m./noon sidewalk/curbside clean-up.

Ms. Gonzalez said the goal was to have Carson St. clean for Sunday churchgoers, which it was.

Thom Barry of the South Side Chamber of Commerce reported there will be an “art crawl” in South Side featuring 25 artists on May 2 over the Pittsburgh Marathon weekend. The band, the Elliotts, will also perform.

On May 9, there will be a “Bike-Spectacular” at the Double Wide Grill to showcase the neighborhood to the bike community. It is free, and will include activities for children.

Mr. Barry said he would like the forum member organizations to come up with an initiative to further discuss permit parking with city officials. Since many organizational representatives were absent from the meeting, he tabled the idea at this time.

In news, Mr. Kreuthmeier said the Cologne St. steps were closed by the city without the South Sides Slopes Neighborhood Association (SSSNA) being informed. It is the second time neighborhood steps were closed without the SSSNA being informed.

At last month’s forum meeting, Brad Palmisiano of the SSSNA told city planner Mr. Gastil the organization wants to interact with the departments of Public Works and Planning regarding a $100,000 county grant it received for the rehabilitation of public steps in the neighborhood.

Mr. Kreuthmeier said the organization is talking to Councilman Bruce Kraus’ office about the steps’ closing.

Mr. Kreuthmeier also reported on an April 11 incident in South Side Park involving 10 high school students working there as part of the Student Conservation Association (SCA).

The youngsters’ access was blocked by six dirt bikers who threatened them with violence, including going home and getting guns. Crew leaders called 911 and evacuated.

Mr. Kreuthmeier said to always call 911 when confronted with similar circumstances.

Dirt bike riders in the park are reportedly an ongoing problem.

Zone 3 Commander Larry Scirotto promised follow-up on the incident.

In other news, Ms. Myers said there will be a steep slope overlay public hearing before the city Planning Commission at 2 p.m. on April 21 regarding the proposed Winter Park Villas in the Slopes.

The latest revision is for 20 new single-family homes across three new street extensions: 10 homes on Hackstown St., six for Magdalena St., and four for Gregory St.

Residents have expressed concerns about the area’s ability to support development and traffic congestion, and the ability of motorists to travel the area during construction in light of the narrow streets.

Ms. Gonzalez reported she took part in a meeting held by Moore Design Associates, consultants to PennDOT, on budgeted East Carson St. corridor highway improvements like signals, lighting, and signage.

The purpose was to solicit South Side stakeholder input, and included Councilman Kraus, and members of the chamber, South Side Bar and Restaurant Association, Port Authority Transit, and others.

Another such meeting is planned, but has yet to be scheduled.

The next forum meeting will be on May 12 and feature a bike sharing presentation.


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