South Pittsburgh Reporter - Serving South Pittsburgh Since 1939

By Margaret L. Smykla
Contributing Writer 

Gas line work coming to Slopes


The May 10 general meeting of the South Side Slopes Neighborhood Association (SSSNA) featured details of the upcoming pipeline replacement project in the Slopes by Peoples Natural Gas.

The targeted areas are: Stella St .; Barry St .; top of Mission St. at Oakley Way; a little work at the bottom of Josephine St .; and a little excavation at McCord St. at Oakley Way.

Columbia Gas customers will not be involved. Peoples recently bought Equitable Gas.

The plan is to replace the old steel pipe with plastic as the steel is not as flexible as the plastic, which moves with the ground.

It is part of a 42-mile pipeline replacement project by Peoples in Pittsburgh this year.

The Slopes work will begin after July 4, and last five to six weeks. The hours will run from about 7 a.m. to 3:30 p.m., depending on the day’s task. If there is heavy rain, there will likely be no work that day. Most of the crews will be Peoples’ employees.

Bill Roland, manager, government affairs, for Peoples, said the hope is to begin restoration of the sidewalk and street, and begin paving, within weeks after the replacement occurs.

“Sidewalks that break up will be new,” he said.

 Peoples’ John Walko will be the project manager. There will be a supervisor and an inspector on site at all times.

The process begins with letters or door cards in the affected areas announcing the start of work, contact information, and the restoration of service process.

Residents will notice the marking of existing utilities on streets/yards with paint.

They are asked to abide by the posting of “no parking” signs on streets as any delays will delay the project. The signs will be erected several days ahead of time.

Non-compliance may result in the towing of vehicles.

When the work ends at day’s end, vehicles may be parked on the street again.

City Councilman Bruce Kraus said experience has taught him the work will be as minimally invasive as possible, based on his office receiving next to none, if any, complaints about similar work by the company.

He called it “magic to work with” Mr. Roland and Mr. Walko as they have done other jobs in the city, he said.

Mr. Roland said to contact him (412-208-6532) or Mr. Walko (412-244-4383) for any questions.

He also said Peoples is willing to sponsor Slopes’ events, like StepTrek, for which the SSSNA should contact him.

In his remarks to begin the meeting, Mr. Kraus said the Planning Commission hearing for the controversial, proposed single-family residential Slopes development, Villas at Winter Park, will take place at 1:30 p.m. on May 17 at 200 Ross St. He said he has not met anyone in favor of the project.

He also reported Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh’s Knoxville branch will reopen on June 25. It has been closed for $3.5 million in renovations since last June.

In committee updates, SSSNA President Brian Oswald reported the annual StepTrek, the non-competitive, self-guided walking tour of the Slopes, will be held on Oct. 1.

With the help of GTECH, plans are underway to redesign and beautify the trailhead next to the Bandi Schaum community garden. The plan is to make this South Side Park entrance more visible and inviting.

The SSSNA received a $5,000 grant from FedEx to help remove invasive plants, reintroduce native plants, engage children in painting birdhouses, and more at South Side Park. On June 17, about 50 FedEx employees/volunteers will work in the park to help get the project started.

The park will serve as a city pilot for signage. Informational signs will be erected at the city’s expense.

Recently, a group of Hilltop youngsters learned to use compasses and more at the park, for which great feedback from the youths was received, Mr. Oswald said. The object of the program was to stir interest in the park as many of the youngsters had never been there.

In her update, Laura Officer said the Friends of South Side Park initiative began to bring together a broad coalition of groups to expand park usage. The first meeting was held last week with 11 representatives of user groups.

The next step is to continue bringing these groups together. A user survey will next be developed to find out what people like about the park and more.

The SSSNA Grants Committee received $10,000 from the Birmingham Foundation for the Friends. The funding was through the Hilltop Alliance.

 Regarding the neighborhood survey of a few months ago, Ms. Officer said 80 Slopes residents completed surveys, which had the categories of “Neighborhood Unity,” “Public Safety,” “Housing,” “Beautification,” and “South Side Park.”

The latter category included questions like “Are you aware of South Side Park?” and “What would make the park better or increase your usage?”

Its goal was to learn how neighbors feel about the neighborhood and the SSSNA, and how the latter’s work can be improved.

The final speaker was Sarah Johnson, director of the South Side Market House Healthy Active Living Center, formerly called the South Side Market House Senior Center.

She said for the past five years, the new generation of seniors has wanted new activities and programs, and not simply playing bridge and sitting all day.

She is looking for ideas for new activities, programs, classes, and events for the center. To that end, she left surveys for non-members to gather feedback on how best the center can meet the community’s needs.

“We’re trying to wipe out the old stigma of senior centers,” she said.

Ms. Johnson also distributed information on the annual Senior Farmers’ Market Nutrition Program for eligible Allegheny County consumers. Distribution will take place on June 14 at senior centers throughout the county. For more information, visit the Allegheny County Area Agency on Aging website.


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