South Pittsburgh Reporter - Serving South Pittsburgh Since 1939

By Margaret L. Smykla
Contributing Writer 

South Side Planning Forum learns about missing trees, holiday lights


With no presentations, the Nov. 9 meeting of the South Side Planning Forum began with the report of the Development Review Committee (DRC) from chair Tracy Myers.

She said seven to 10 trees were removed from along the river beside the South Side Marina, which were a larger number than were supposed to be removed. Community members expressed displeasure.

After the DRC asked Maxwell Construction Co. to alleviate the problem, Riverlife worked with Maxwell to find a solution. Maxwell came to the DRC meeting on Oct. 27 with its landscape architect, Mark Fickley.

The proposed solution was to add six trees between the elevator structure and where the city-owned property begins, although closer to 10 trees were removed.

The new trees will be large caliper red maples.

Ms. Myers said the company was asked to consider a one-to-one replacement, and was also asked for perspective drawings to show what the trees would look like at 5-year and 10-year intervals. The revised drawings will be presented at the next DRC meeting.

The company has a budget, officials said, which limits the spending on this project.

In her report of the South Side Neighborhood Plan, Ninth Update, Ms. Myers said she is finishing the final edits agreed upon when the revision was approved in October. She hopes to have the plan finalized this month.

She is also trying to schedule a meeting with Mary Ellen Solomon, Duquesne University’s new assistant vice-president for executive affairs, and John DeMauro, of the South Side Bar and Restaurant Association, about becoming organizational members of the planning forum.

Those recommendations appeared in the recent neighborhood plan update.

Next, forum Chair Hugh Brannan asked if there was feedback from any forum organizations on last month’s discussion about funding for holiday lights for the upcoming holiday season.

At that meeting, Candice Gonzalez of the South Side Chamber of Commerce said the chamber was looking into getting the snowflake pole lights repaired for installation along East Carson St.

The white LED holiday lights are typically displayed on the 11th to 24th blocks of East Carson St., beginning about Nov. 12-15.

She said while the snowflakes were bright and attractive when first installed in 2014, they were very dim last year due to the damage from being out in the elements of rain, ice, and snow the prior year.

In addition to the lights, there are electrical, and installation/removal costs.

To Mr. Brannan’s original question about feedback, both the South Side Slopes Neighborhood Association (SSSNA) and the South Side Community Council (SSCC) have made donations.

Thom Barry, of the chamber, said besides organizational donations, individual donations and volunteers are also needed as funding is still running short.

To a comment about all of Ms. Gonzalez’s work on this project, Mr. Barry said “She’s not just the chamber’s jewel. She’s everyone’s jewel on the South Side.”

Mr. Brannan said individuals can contribute to the neighborhood at the Mittens and Mingles event from 6-10 p.m. on Dec. 1 at Clear Story Studios. It is presented by UPMC Mercy, and benefits the Welcome Center and the Brashear Association’s holiday programs.

In New Business, Mr. Brannan reiterated last month’s news that Christine Gaus will be retiring from the Brashear Association, so someone must be named to assume the secretarial role at forum meetings.

He said a forum member informed him that he/she might be willing to assume that duty, but the person was absent that evening, so he had no further information. Unless someone had a different idea, he will approach that person about taking on the role starting in January, he said.

If not, another solution must be found.

Mr. Brannan, who has served as forum chair for 25 years, said the neighborhood plan states the chair position be looked at every two years. The next time will be this January.

He said he could continue as chair, but if someone else wants to do it, it is okay with him.

In news about forum organizations, Dawn Lorincy reported the SSSNA’s new board officers are: Kristin Raup, president; Brad Palmisiano, vice president; Cara Jette, secretary; and that she is the treasurer.

The organization’s annual holiday party will be held on Dec. 13.

Barbara Rudiak, of the SSCC, reported that 300 student volunteers have been working to clear brush for visibility on the Riverfront trail.

She also reported the SSCC, chamber, and Duquesne University hosted a Thanksgiving potluck dinner the prior evening at the Market House to provide an opportunity for students and residents to meet one another and converse. Duquesne provided the turkey, while others brought side dishes and desserts.

Mr. Brannan said on Nov. 1 the Brashear Association began accepting the names of needy local families for Thanksgiving food vouchers and toys for Christmas. Almost 300 families have signed up so far. The plan is to continue to take names.

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. Last year, more than 2000 toys were distributed.

“It’s a need we try to meet, but it is challenging,” he said.

Brashear’s annual Holiday Open House will be held from 6-7:30 p.m. on Dec. 8 at the Learning and Engagement Center, 827 E. Warrington Ave.

Attendees are encouraged to bring new, unwrapped toys for the holiday drive.

Mr. Brannan also reported he hosted a reception the prior night for sponsors of the South Side Soup Contest, to be held on Feb. 18, 2017.

The next forum meeting will be on Dec. 13.


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