South Pittsburgh Reporter - Serving South Pittsburgh Since 1939

By Margaret L. Smykla
Contributing Writer 

Slopes learns of free lead line replacements from PWSA, infrastructure improvements, ShotSpotter effectiveness

 

January 22, 2019



City parks listening tour, lead service line replacement, infrastructure project updates, and area crime statistics were among the topics at the January 15 general meeting of the South Side Slopes Neighborhood Association (SSSNA).

In a brief presentation to kick off the meeting, Dan Duffy, lead program manager for the Pittsburgh Water and Sewer Authority (PWSA), discussed its 2019 lead line replacement project.

Lead enters drinking water through corrosion in lead pipes or plumbing materials. The primary source of lead in water is old service lines connecting homes to the water main in the street.

PWSA estimates 25 percent of homes in Pittsburgh still have lead service lines.

Mr. Duffy said PWSA is replacing residential lead service lines, and will pay for the entire lead service line replacement. PWSA looked at areas of the city in which there are numerous lead service lines.

Slopes customers identified for replacement under this program were sent information by the Authority in November, 2018. The letter asked for permission with a signature to do work on their property.

Once the signed letter is received, PWSA will set up a meeting to inform the homeowner of what they plan to do, and any options. Homeowners may change their minds at that time, if they so choose.

Typically, the work takes one day and the homeowner must be present.

Restoration costs must be paid by the homeowner, such as grass planting or landscape replacement. The PWSA will restore sidewalks at its expense. Homeowners may opt out of line replacement on their property.

Once completed, the county’s plumbing division will conduct an inspection.

Next, Zone 3 Commander Karen Dixon reported on the effectiveness of ShotSpotter, which is gunshot detection technology that locates and alerts law enforcement about gunfire incidents in neighborhoods as they occur.

The digital alerts include a precise location on a map with corresponding data such as the address, number of rounds fired, type of gunfire, and so on, delivered to any browser-enabled smartphone or mobile laptop device.

It better protects officers; enhances the likelihood to make arrests and recover evidence; directs police to crime scenes in time to aid victims; and more.

“It is quicker than a call to the 911 center,” she said.

Commander Dixon said in addition to better protecting officers by providing them with increased tactical awareness, it alerts them to look for victims.

“This is getting us places quickly, and where people might be injured,” she said.

The system will rule out loud, non-gunshot sounds, such as fireworks.

Zone 3 community relations Officer Christine Luffey, who is in her 26th year as an officer, said law enforcement efforts are working so well, in part, because of the interactions between officers and residents as attested to by community meetings and involvement.

In the Slopes crime report for the past 30 days, there were five burglaries, two criminal mischief reports, one stolen vehicle, one theft by deception, three theft from person, and four drug arrests.

Officer Luffey said most burglaries occur during the day when residents are at work. Burglars watch a home for a while to see when the occupants come and go to determine the best time to strike.

Residents should make sure their homes are secure. If they spot someone suspicious, they should trust their instincts and call 911.

“It’s always better to be safe than sorry,” she said.

On the topic of drugs, she said they plague all communities, ages, and circumstances. As an example, among the four drug arrests in the crime report, there was a grandmother whose teenage grandson found her overdosing and called 911; and a homeowner who allowed an acquaintance to move in, only to discover the acquaintance stealing from him and doing drugs.

A Salisbury and Eccles streets resident said drug activity is increasing in the nearby ballfield. He can view drug deals from his home, and will knock on their car windows if doing drugs in cars.

Officer Luffey said do not knock on windows but call 911. An officer could be a block away and arrive quickly.

The resident said there are cameras in the neighborhood, and would share the footage with police, if requested.

Another attendee said speeders on Monastery St. are hazardous to walkers, and have knocked off her car mirrors. One of the problems is the driving area is too narrow.

To a question about what to do about problem renters, city Councilman Bruce Kraus said under the nuisance property ordinance, if citations are issued three times a year the property may be deemed a nuisance and the owner is billed for the associated costs.

He said his office has had success with phone calls to owners directly.

Next, in a brief update of local construction projects, Councilman Kraus said if the temperature does not fall below a certain level concrete work can continued on the Mission St. Bridge.

The sidewalks are in bad shape. There seems to be sidewalk money, he said, and he will look into it. Painting will occur eventually.

He also reported 18th and Josephine streets will receive a new signal, and will be federally funded. It is currently in design, with construction slated for late 2019.

It will complete the upcoming federally-funded 18th St. signals upgrades for pedestrian safety. The upgrades will occur at 18th and Sarah streets; 18th and Jane streets; 18th St. and Arlington Ave .; and Brownsville Rd. and Bausman St.

The 18th and Carson streets signal will be funded by the state.

In another project, the city will conduct a $3.5 million East Carson St. streetscaping project from 10th to 25th streets. It will include pedestrian lighting, street lighting at unsignalized intersections, street trees and furnishings, hanging baskets, benches in heavily-used areas, new trash cans, and more.

The city is coordinating the work with the state Dept. of Transportation [PennDOT]’s $12 million East Carson St. safety improvement project from the Smithfield St. Bridge to 33rd St. It will include resurfacing, upgrading intersections, ADA ramps and more. The project is scheduled to begin this year.

Finally, a $2-3 million restoration of the Oliver Bath House is planned once funding is secured. The city recently received a $1 million grant from the state for the project.

In the last presentation, Jayne Miller, president of the Pittsburgh Parts Conservancy (PPC), reported through early 2019, the City of Pittsburgh and the PPC are embarking on the Parks Listening Tour. At community meetings and events throughout the city, feedback will be gathered on what residents love about their parks, and what they would like improved.

The project purpose is to “bring all parks up to a high level of quality,” she said. That includes: restoring existing parks and open spaces; modernizing facilities that need updates; and maintaining all assets in a timely manner.

There are 165 parks in the city. Regional Asset District (RAD) funds cannot be spent on neighborhood parks, only on five regional ones, she said.

There is a minimum of $400 million shortfall for needed capital improvements with the parks. There is also at least a $13 million funding shortage for maintenance in the parks every year.

Ms. Miller reported over the past 22 years, PPC has raised $112+ million, and educated 5,000 children annually. In 2017, 277 free public programs were offered. There are 22 active work sites.

She then distributed a survey for residents to complete with questions like: rank the importance of maintenance at the parks, like mowing, tree care, graffiti removal, athletic field maintenance, and more.

Another question: rank the importance of these at parks: lighting, pools, playgrounds, dog parks, athletic courts, and more.

For a schedule of listening tour events, and to access the survey, visit: http://www.pittsburghparks.org/listening-tour.

Ms. Miller concluded that a strategy will be developed, and she would return in the spring to share those details.

In other news, the 21st annual “Biscuits Bingo” fundraiser for local animal organizations, and presented by the Pittsburgh Police, will be held on March 23 at the IBEW Hall Local #5, 5 Hot Metal St., South Side.

Admission is $30, which includes 20 games of bingo. Tickets are on-line only; no tickets will be sold at the door.

Doors open at 10 a.m., and bingo starts at noon.

There are about 600 attendees each year. Almost one-half million dollars has been raised throughout the years with Biscuits Bingo.

For more information, email Christine.Luffey@pittsburghpa.gov.

The SSSNA’s next general meeting will be at 6:30 p.m. on March 12 at the St. Paul of the Cross Monastery.

 

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