South Pittsburgh Reporter - Serving South Pittsburgh Since 1939

By Tom Smith
South Pittsburgh Reporter Editor 

Parking Enhancement District Clean Team will hit the streets in S. Side this week


Last updated 9/5/2018 at 8:28pm

South Side will have a highly visible result of the neighborhood’s Parking Enhancement District (PED) this week when a new “clean team” takes to the streets.

According to Councilman Bruce Kraus, the city has come to an agreement with Block by Block, a sidewalk cleaning service that counts the Pittsburgh Downtown Partnership and the Oakland Business Improvement District among their clients. Initially, Block by Block will provide two cleaners working eight hours a day, Monday through Thursday beginning at 6 a.m. each day.

As opposed to the red shirts the South Side Chamber of Commerce’s clean team wears, the Block by Block team will be identified by their bright blue shirts with a new South Side PED logo.

“We’re going to focus on ‘Ground 0’ in the beginning, 12th to 19th streets,” the councilman said. “The first couple of weeks, they’ll be really hitting it hard.”

The target area came out of tours of the South Side business district with company and city officials and discussions with community members. Additionally, because the service is being paid for with PED money, Mr. Kraus said they will do their best to have the cleaners will go up to a block off of Carson on the numbered streets.

Block by Block will not only be picking up trash, but also power-washing the sidewalks in the target area to remove dirt, grime and chewing gum. The company was waiting on a permit from the city to use fire hydrants as the water source for the power-washing.

Block by Block will be responsible for bringing all their own equipment, including street sweeping and power-washing equipment.

Mr. Kraus said the time for the clean-up services may be adjusted, depending on when the sidewalks will be most accessible.

After the emphasis on power-washing is completed, the clean team will move on to removing graffiti stickers on poles and keeping the tree pits free of weeds with their litter duties.

Since PED money is being used for the cleaning service, the councilman said they plan to report to the community on the progress and results of the work. Block by Block will provide statistics on how much of the sidewalks they’ve cleaned including the amount of litter picked up and how many tree pits were cleared.

The councilman expects they will publicly report on the clean team’s progress at the South Side Planning Forum.

The contract will cover a 90-day period from September through November. The councilman said after the 90-day “pilot program” they will reevaluate the services and see if any changes need to be made.

“I want to be very mindful about how we spend the money,” Mr. Kraus said.

He noted by the end of the pilot program reconstruction work should have begun on East Carson Street and there may be snow in the forecast. The change in the weather could bring about a change in the scope of services with the cleaners removing snow instead of trash. Although a decision hasn’t been made yet concerning potential snow removal.

Mr. Kraus said the clean team will be based out of Delanie’s Coffee in the 1700 block of E. Carson Street. The location, offered by owner Adam Desimone, will give the team a place to store their equipment and “someplace to land” to rest or for a beverage or lunch.

Hand in hand with the contract with Block by Block will be a position within the Department of Public Works to work the early morning hours of Saturdays and Sundays beginning as early as 3 a.m. The position will involve sweeping litter from the sidewalks into the street from 10th to 30th streets. After the litter is swept off of the curb, a streetsweeper will drive by and vacuum the debris.

In addition, Public Works will also be power-washing trash receptacles along E. Carson Street. The worker will also power-wash the trash cans inside the receptacles and move and clean beneath them.

Mr. Kraus said the additional clean team sidewalk cleaning isn’t supposed to replace work already being done by the Department of Public Works. PED money isn’t intended to replace fundamental services the city is currently providing.

He said Public Works is still aiming to test drive a Madvac sidewalk vacuum in the fall. The vacuum, an upgraded version of one that was brought to South Side for a demonstration, will have a four-foot wide vacuum nozzle and be able to clear more of the sidewalk at once.

The councilman said they haven’t committed to the Madvac yet and would like to see the bigger model’s capabilities and shortcomings before making a decision.

The PED program in the City of Pittsburgh extends on-street parking meter enforcement until midnight on Friday and Saturday nights in South Side. The program came about through a recommendation of the Responsible Hospitality Institute.

Started on St. Patrick’s Day weekend in 2017, the South Side PED has accumulated around $330,000 which can only be spent on enhancing public safety and public works projects in the South Side Flats. The clean team would be the second expenditure of PED funds in the neighborhood with about $20,000 spent on additional surveillance cameras by the Department of Public Safety.


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