South Pittsburgh Reporter - Serving South Pittsburgh Since 1939

By Margaret L. Smykla
Contributing Writer 

Planning forum is updated on upcoming projects in South Side


Last updated 11/23/2018 at 9:17am

Project updates were the primary news from the Nov. 13 meeting of the South Side Planning Forum.

With no scheduled presentations, the meeting began with the report of the Development Review Committee (DRC) from chair Tracy Myers.

A pet resort is proposed at the corner of 26th and Sidney streets in the retail site on the first floor of the garage attached to City Apartments.

The owner, Ray Schneider, owns two pet resorts in other cities. The businesses offer boarding, grooming, pet massages, and more.

Fifty to 70 dogs typically stay overnight, thereby meriting an employee presence all night.

A zoning change of use has been requested for the site because an animal care facility is not permitted in SouthSide Works.

The proposed facility is expected to hire up to 40 employees.

Ms. Myers also reported she and neighborhood planner Felipe Palomo, of the city’s Dept. of City Planning, are working on a draft document on the DRC process, as requested by an attendee at the Planning Forum’s annual meeting.

In the South Side Neighborhood Plan update, committee chair Ms. Myers said there is discussion on whether to change the structure of the plan in light of the pending retirement of Planning Forum chair Hugh Brannan. Planning for his succession must occur, she said.

In announcements, Candice Gonzalez, of the Chamber of Commerce, reported for the first nine months of 2018 the South Side Welcome Center had 215 volunteers for 1,640 hours of donated work. There were 4,144 visitors to the Center, 1100 East Carson St.

She also reported that on Nov. 24 the Chamber will feature a “Small Business Saturday” open house at the Welcome Center from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. There will be light refreshments and small business giveaways.

The Chamber’s annual Mittens & Mingles holiday fundraiser will be held on Dec. 6 from 6 to 10 p.m. at Clear Story Studio, 1931 Sidney St. The event benefits the Welcome Center and raises funds for holiday toys and meals for The Brashear Association’s Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays initiatives.

Next, Mr. Brannan reminded everyone The Brashear Association will be serving about 600 Hilltop families during the Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays, and will be needing about 2,000 new, unwrapped toys for youngsters. Food vouchers will also be distributed.

The biggest toy need is for ages 9 to 12.

To help acquire toys and/or donations, an Open House will be held from 5:30 to 7 p.m. on Dec. 12 at 827 Warrington Ave.

“We rely on the generosity of our friends throughout the community,” he said.

In an update on construction projects, city Councilman Bruce Kraus said work on the Mission St. Bridge began that day.

The city’s 2018 budget includes funding for the curbs and road surfaces. The 2019 funding covers removing the grates, and painting, washing, and putting back.

The so-called “suicide fence” will be replaced and the top of the bridge painted.

The mayor’s budget address that day mentioned the city’s commitment to the Oliver Bath House. For 2019, $1.237 million has been allocated for restoration and preservation. The governor also added another million dollars to save the Oliver Bath House.

Mr. Kraus and nighttime economy coordinator Allison Harnden next provided an update on the PED, which is the enforcement of South Side Flats parking meters from 6 p.m. to midnight on Fridays and Saturdays, and which began early last year. 

The revenue from the South Side PED must be invested back in the neighborhood for public safety, cleanliness, and infrastructure improvements.

In the first year, from April-Dec. 2017, $164,000 was raised.

High-resolution cameras have been purchased with PED funds for $24,000, and are up and running in the area.

Block by Block, or a “Clean Team,” was retained with PED funds for September-December to keep the area free of trash, litter, weeds, and more. The workers also power-wash the sidewalks to rid them of gum, grease, and other detriments. Once the pilot ends in December a decision must be made on the next step.

As 10th to 18th streets contains much of South Side’s night life, that area is targeted for the cleaning.

This is in addition to the city services that are provided.

Mr. Brannan said the three structures everyone is determined to keep are the South Side Library, Market House, and Oliver Bath House.

Mr. Kraus said $4.5 million has been invested to preserve and update the South Side Library.

In his South Side Park master plan update, Mr. Palomo said the process is underway of coordinating among the Pittsburgh Water and Sewer Authority, Dept. of Public Works, and city Planning to tackle Phase 1.

Construction may start at the end of 2019.

The focus will be the entrance of the park on S. 21st St., with green infrastructure and stormwater management.

Mr. Palomo said stormwater management requires geotechnical studies. The studies involve infiltration testing and the amount of water South Side Park gets from rain, and how it is diverted to S. 21st St.

The goal is to minimize the impact of stormwater in the combined sewer overflow of the M16 watershed. If successful, there would be less stormwater with heavy rains so less chance for the sewer to overflow into the river.

Mr. Palomo also said the green infrastructure at the park will be enhanced with constructed wetlands.

Mr. Kraus said the city committed $400,000 toward Stage 1 planning. There is also $1 million in each of the 2019 and 2020 city budgets for South Side Park.

“There is a significant commitment from the city,” he said.

The next Planning Forum meeting will be on Dec. 11.


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