By Margaret L. Smykla
Contributing Writer 

Proposed housing discussed at S.S. Slopes general meeting


Last updated 3/20/2017 at 5:14pm

The March general meeting of the South Side Slopes Neighborhood Association (SSSNA) included news about South Side Park, OpenStreetsPGH, the new South Watch public safety/code compliance initiative, and more.

It was held on March 14 at the Henry Kaufman Neighborhood House in the Slopes.

In her update on South Side Park, Erin Tobin said the Friends of South Side Park will host a spring cleanup from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on April 2. Volunteers should gather at the Bandi Schaum Community Garden at 10 a.m.

The work will include general trash cleanup, installing new sign posts for the open space signage, and invasive plant species removal.

Regarding the park’s master plan, a $40,000 grant was received from the state Dept. of Conservation and Natural Resources (DCNR). The city matched the grant, for a total of $80,000 for the plan.

“It will be really critical for development in the park,” she said of the master plan.

In other community news, the South Side Spring Social will be held from 5-9 p.m. on April 1 at the Steel Cactus. Last year’s Spring Social raised more than a thousand dollars that was split between South Side and Armstrong parks.

The next speaker was Liz Heidenreich, founder of South Side Smart Streets that advocates for pedestrian and bicycle safety in South Side.

She reported that OpenStreetsPGH will be held from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Sunday, May 28.

This will be the third year for the event in which three miles of city streets will be closed to traffic from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. for joggers, bicyclists, walkers, and skaters to use the streets for fun in a car-free environment.

“It is very family friendly,” Ms. Heidenreich said of the event.

Along the route there will be health offerings, like Zumba workouts, children’s activities, informational tents for businesses/nonprofits, and more.

During the event, East Carson St. will be closed to cars from 4 a.m. to 1:30 p.m., although key intersections will remain open.

The route will begin at Market Square, and include part of East Carson St., crossing over the Birmingham Bridge onto Forbes Ave. and back to Market Square.

Last year, 22,000 people participated in the events.

Miriam Parson next discussed the nonprofit ioby, or In Our Backyards, which supports community projects with technical assistance, and connects leaders with funding and support.

ioby uses a combination of crowdfunding (small donations) and resource organizing to help residents organize capital from within the neighborhood to make the neighborhood a better place to live.

For more information, visit:

Next, Betty Kripp of the SSSNA’s Outreach Committee, and Barbara Rudiak, president of the South Side Community Council, discussed South Watch, which was founded by Ms. Rudiak.

Ms. Kripp said the Outreach Committee conducted a survey in 2012 in which residents listed trash and parking as the neighborhood’s major issues.

A $1,000 grant from the Birmingham Foundation helped fund bag clips and garbage can stickers with the message, “Keep trash out of sight, in cans with lids.”

The committee focused on education regarding the most egregious offenders. Educational walkabouts were conducted, advertisements run, and articles were published on the topic. Committee members also talked to district judges about the trash problem.

Residents were urged to call 311 when neighborhood trash was not dealt with properly, such as being set by the curb days before pick-up.

Ms. Rudiak said the new resident-driven South Watch: The South Side Flats and Slopes Code Enforcement Project also hopes to educate residents on issues important to the neighborhood.

Its mission is to improve the quality of life on the South Side by bringing people and institutions together to identify code violations, advocate for their remediation, and monitor the outcomes.

It is also the mission of Oakwatch in Oakland, on which South Watch is based.

Oakwatch compiles a report in which the worst violations/properties are prioritized, and then targeted for code compliance.

South Watch meetings will include representatives of Zone 3, city parking, Duquesne University, the Mayor’s Office, city council, and others.

South Watch will initially look at refuse collection, and focus on 10-15 properties.

Houses with trash outside at all times will receive an orange tag on their door about the problem, followed by a walk-by the next week to see if the problem has been corrected. An effort will be made to educate the offenders. Otherwise, 311 requests will be made, followed by citations.

Ms. Rudiak said while trash is a prime focus, there are other challenges in the South Side to be addressed.

Everyone is welcome to attend meetings, which are held the second Wednesday of the month.

The next meeting will be at 6 p.m. on April 12 at the Brashear Center, 2005 Sarah Street, in the Flats.

City Councilman Bruce Kraus said he has attended Oakwatch meetings for the past five years.

“It is a proven model with proven success,” he said.

Next, a Cobden St. resident said he and a partner plan to subdivide the parcel adjacent to his home and construct four townhouses. The plan is preliminary. The target market would be young professionals.

The location would be between Cobden and Wellington streets.

Variances must be obtained for lot size, setbacks, and use of attached single family dwellings in the R1D zoning district.

A Zoning Board of Adjustment hearing will be held on March 23 at City Planning, 200 Ross St.

A Wellington St. resident expressed concerns about parking and the width of the street. Regarding the latter, he said there will not be a turning radius as the street is too narrow.

“You’re going to have people on top of people,” he said of the parking problem.

The last speaker was a Newton St. resident who said there is no storm water management on the street.

“Newton St. is sliding,” he said. A consequence is the hillside is falling into his yard.

He said he was told by city officials that the city would stabilize the street. Instead, he received a violation notice to have a geo-technical survey done.

He called blaming residents for a city failing “a dangerous precedent.”

In the meantime, the road continues to crumble. He said he wants to work with the city to find a solution.

“Nothing has been done to stop this slide,” he said.


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