South Siders updated on latest happenings at Planning Forum
The neighborhood plan, holiday events, and Phillips Elementary School activities headlined the Nov. 10 meeting of the South Side Planning Forum.
The evening began with forum Chair Hugh Brannan reporting he told new Zone 3 Commander Karen Dixon he appreciated her presenting a zone update at last month’s forum meeting.
Mr. Brannan said he would encourage her to deliver updates at least every other month.
Forum member Tracy Myers said the commander’s attendance would be beneficial in light of recent violent crimes in the neighborhood, like an armed residual robbery and an abduction.
“It would be nice to have her here on a regular basis,” Ms. Myers said.
In her report of the Development Review Committee (DRC), she said the Steelers are building a two-story, 4,000-square-feet wedge onto the Water St. side of their training site building. The DRC agreed to support the addition as it has no impact on the trail or anything else.
Ms. Myers also reported at one time, a portion of Bedford Square had houses which have since been demolished. The Historic Review Committee (HRC) was opposed at the time to the demolition as the homes were part of the original fabric of the neighborhood.
In the neighborhood plan update, Ms. Myers said per the request of forum member Thom Barry for a permanent parking strategy, representatives of the Parking Authority, Urban Redevelopment Authority of Pittsburgh (URA), and Dept. of Public Works were invited to that evening’s neighborhood plan meeting.
They were asked for their thoughts and suggestions on the matter but, due to their limited roles in the parking process, did not have a lot to offer.
Ms. Myers said Mr. Brannan suggested there might be a way to replicate the parking plan used for St. Patrick’s Day and festivals.
She said a pilot project needs to be developed, after which resources and other support will be sought.
“We understand we can’t live on other people’s money anymore, but we need help,” she said.
She said groups, such as the URA, can be told this is how they can help us sustain what they helped create in the neighborhood.
Candice Gonzalez, executive director of the South Side Chamber of Commerce, agreed “it has to be sustainable.”
On another neighborhood plan topic, Ms. Myers said the committee needs to make sure member organizations are still buying into the plan. At meetings, members should give brief overviews of what their organizations are working on.
Mr. Brannan said the goal is “to make sure everyone is on the same page in their commitment to the neighborhood plan.”
Next, Wanda Jankoski, of the South Side Community Council, reported the fundraiser pies sold by the organization can be picked up on Nov. 20-21 at Prince of Peace Parish Center, 81 S. 13th St. Orders are no longer being taken.
In other news, she said students from the University of Pittsburgh and Duquesne University will be doing community service projects on Jan. 18, which is Martin Luther King, Jr., Day.
Contact Ms. Jankoski by Nov. 19 with any indoor projects for the students.
Next, Mary Ellen Solomon, Duquesne University’s director of government relations, said a recent South Side social designed for students and neighbors to meet was a success with about 75 attendees.
She also said students would be sent reminders about responsible celebrations in the upcoming holiday season.
In her update, Ms. Gonzalez said Halloween, which fell on a Saturday, ran smoothly in the business district with many patrons in costumes.
There was a taxi stand at 17th-18th streets which was well utilized. Police visibility at the site created a calming effect. There was also a valet stand at 21st and Carson streets.
She also reported the chamber’s “Small Business Saturday” campaign to promote holiday shopping will be held on Nov. 28 in the business district.
In his overview of Phillips Elementary School, new principal Michael Calvert said the Student of the Month program is working out well.
The school also has a new fundraiser, “Race for Education,” in which students sign up sponsors for when they race. So far, $14,000 has been raised.
Every first Tuesday at 5 p.m., parents and residents may talk issues with administrators at the school. Everyone is welcome. This month, the gathering will be on Nov. 17 as a postponement from the first Tuesday earlier this month.
Everyone is also invited to the holiday concert on Dec. 14.
Mr. Calvert said the school benefits from the assistance of various organizations, such as the Brashear Association, which runs the art club; Duquesne University, which helps teachers such as by reading to students; and Citiparks, which offers a free after-school program for low-income students.
As for concerns, he said cars speed by on Sarah St. when busses are unloading.
In a brief update, Ms. Gonzalez said a recent outstanding event on the South Side was the Nov. 8 rededication of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial at 18th and Carson streets. It was the 20th anniversary of the installation of the memorial.
“It was just moving,” she said.
She estimated at least 150 people attended the event, with Vietnam Veterans, Inc., paying for lunch afterwards at VFW Post 6675.
Mr. Brannan said on Nov. 2 the Brashear Association began accepting the names of needy local families for Thanksgiving food vouchers and toys for Christmas. So far, 400 families have signed on. Last year, 600 families were served.
New toys or gifts, for children to age 12, for Brashear’s annual holiday drive may be dropped off at the Brashear Center, 2005 Sarah St., until Dec. 12.
Last year, 2400 toys were distributed.
Brashear’s annual Holiday Open House will be held from 6 to 7:30 p.m. on Dec. 10 at the Learning and Engagement Center, 827 E. Warrington Ave.
Attendees are encouraged to bring new, unwrapped toys for the holiday drive.
The next forum meeting will be on Dec. 8.