South Pittsburgh Reporter - Serving South Pittsburgh Since 1939

By Margaret L. Smykla
Contributing Writer 

Carson reconstruction will include lighting, streetscape amenities

 

February 20, 2018



An overview of the upcoming East Carson St. streetscaping project, from Smithfield St. to 25th St., was presented at the Feb. 13 meeting of the South Side Planning Forum.

While the undertaking is primarily a state Dept. of Transportation [PennDOT] project, the city budgeted $1.5 million for its own work to be done in coordination with PennDOT: pedestrian lighting, street lighting at unsignalized intersections, street trees and furnishings, benches in heavily-used areas, new trash cans, and more.

The $12 million PennDOT work will consist of milling and overlay, traffic signals, ADA ramps, and safety improvements, and last about one year. The city work will precede it, although it may occur in phases due to finances.

An Open House will be held to unveil the project process to the public from 5 to 7 p.m. on March 19. It will be held at the Brashear Center, 2005 Sarah St. Other upcoming projects will also be discussed, such as rebuilding the intersection at 18th and Josephine streets that will result in additional lights and the redesign of the intersection to increase safety.

“This is about consistency through the corridor,” said Emily Gaspich, project manager, City of Pittsburgh, said of the streetscaping project. She also said the city is working closely with PennDOT to coordinate plans.

Other city officials outlining the project were Karina Ricks, director of the Mobility and Infrastructure Department, and Alicia Carberry, assistant to the chiefs, Office of the Mayor.

The hope is to put out bids this summer, and award contracts in September. The bulk of the work would occur in 2019.

Discussion is on-going about potential curb and sidewalk cost-sharing between the city and property owners. Sidewalks are the responsibility of property owners.

City Councilman Bruce Kraus said the city is interested in a way for the city and property owners to be partners. He said the city will reach out to property owners to see if this is something they would be interested participating with.

Next, Mr. Kraus and Allison Harnden, the city’s nighttime economy coordinator, spoke about the new Parking Enforcement District (PED) and potential uses of the revenue it generated.

The PED -- the enforcement of South Side Flats parking meters from 6 p.m. to midnight on Fridays and Saturdays – began March 17, 2017.

There was a grace period from 6 p.m. to midnight on Fridays and Saturdays, ending April 21. During the grace period, instead of a ticket for violators, they received an “Oops Card.”

The Flats became the first neighborhood to be designated a PED in the city.

The revenue from the South Side PED is in a trust fund to be invested back in the area. Mr. Kraus said it must go to public safety, cleanliness, and infrastructure improvements in the neighborhood.

To date, about $180,000 has been collected, with $134,000 available after costs.

“We want to invest these dollars and have them available for the long haul,” Mr. Kraus said.

Mr. Kraus said while the city hoped to reach $200,000 the first year, officials didn’t account for metered parking not enforced during Christmas season weekends, and about the Oops Card which gave a break to violators for a month. But $200,000 is expected to be collected in 2018.

Some popular items discussed for purchasing is a trash-eating machine to be operated Saturday and Sunday mornings, and installation of a few more cameras in strategic places. The cost for both is about $63,000.

He is also interested in exploring business partnerships, such as with pizza shops, as pizza boxes frequently end up in the street as litter on weekends.

Mr. Kraus said he has a commitment from Dept. of Public Works’ director Mike Gable to have the sidewalks power-washed a few times a year.

Forum member Barbara Rudiak said members should go back to their respective groups and discuss possible uses of the funds. Ideas should be sent to Mr. Kraus or Ms. Harnden.

“We want to entertain. We want people to come here, but there is a cost associated with this,” Mr. Kraus said.

Mr. Kraus another potential use is creating a “safe space,” which other cities have for people who suddenly find themselves in need, such as becoming too drunk to drive home.

Ms. Harnden next reported that a group of city officials would be traveling shortly to the Responsible Hospitality Institute’s (RHI) Social City Summit in New Orleans.

There the best practices in nighttime management are shared by community leaders nationwide.

An outgrowth of last year’s summit was the notion of Pittsburgh as a music city. A consultant was brought in who is looking at recording studios, musicians, promoters, and more.

Nurturing the positive regarding the influx of students and student housing is also an RHI focus, she said.

Ms. Rudiak said while we like to think that our challenges are unique to South Side, many cities have similar problems, and that it is exciting and informative to learn how they deal with them.

To a question about a new police zone, Mr. Kraus said a seventh zone has been talked about since he entered office. He also said Mayor Peduto likes the idea, and feels it can be budgeted.

A seventh police zone would encompass hospitality areas: South Side Flats, Station Square, Downtown, North Shore, and the Strip District.

The idea came out of RHI, Ms. Harnden said.

Mr. Kraus said as bars/restaurants is the fastest growing industry in the U.S. for the last 10 years, it must be protected.

Next, Tracy Myers, chair of the Development Review Committee (DRC), updated the Saint Matthew housing project, which preserves the integrity of the building.

Under the proposal, six to seven for-sale housing units will be constructed inside the church structure. There will be no exterior changes, and parking will be under the building.

The project was favorably received by the DRC as previous proposals always involved tearing down the structure.

She said the developer requested some variances.

In announcements, Candice Gonzalez, of the South Side Chamber of Commerce, reported that in January, the Welcome Center had 24 volunteers for 210 hours of donated work. There were 313 Center visitors from around the world.

The mobile office of state Rep. Jake Wheatley, Jr., is located in the Beltzhoover Community Center, 407 Gearing Ave.

Rep. Wheatley will host Lobby Day in Harrisburg on March 12. More details will follow.

The next Planning Forum meeting will be on March 13. Mr. Brannan said a senior official of the Pittsburgh Water and Sewer Authority (PWSA) will be present at the forum’s May 8 meeting.

 

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