South Pittsburgh Reporter - Serving South Pittsburgh Since 1939

By Margaret L. Smykla
Contributing Writer 

Security added after incident at Foxtail on E. Carson Street

 

February 19, 2019

large fight at the Foxtail bar, 1601 East Carson Street, on Feb. 3 drew club management, police, and city officials to the February 12 meeting of the South Side Planning Forum to discuss the incident and subsequent improvements to security.

Following the brawl, police closed the 1600 block of East Carson Street as the crowd dispersed. No injuries were reported and there were no arrests.

Reading an official statement from Foxtail and the AMPD Group, Adam DeSimone, managing partner of the AMPD Group, stated "The aggressors who caused this unfortunate incident have been identified and permanently banned not only from Foxtail, but from many properties within the city."

"We will not tolerate the behavior to jeopardize the safety of our patrons, staff, and the livelihood of our business."

He said the AMPD Group met with the district attorney, city police, and Liquor Control Enforcement. Foxtail is not considered a nuisance bar.

The list of improvements and standard practices to security he read include:

Reinforced vigilance to visually intoxicated patrons (VIP) both at the entry door and throughout the evening with serving staff;

Occupancy has always been tracked on an in/out and up/down basis via counters;

Twenty-six additional internal/external cameras; total of 32 cameras inside and out;

Two police details on club nights;

ID scanner with "banned" status has been added;

Radios/ear pieces for quicker security response time;

Additional security and strategic placement within the club;

Limit number of guests on dance floor;

Dress code; and more.

Mr. DeSimone also stated the identified aggressors were sent a "banned" email message.

He said his staff acted very swiftly in response to the incident.

"I think we've responded in a very responsible manner," he said.

City Councilman Bruce Kraus said Mr. DeSimone has taken "very concrete steps" in reference to the list of improvements.

He added that positive actions regarding East Carson St. and nightlife are pending: in two weeks he and other city and police officials will be attending a Responsible Hospitality Institute (RHI) conference.

At RHI, the best practices in nighttime management are shared by community leaders nationwide.

Another positive action is the Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA) and the city, along with several South Side community groups, are working to develop a community-driven, three- to five-year business district blueprint for strengthening East Carson St. from S. 10th Street to S. 25th Street.

Regarding the police response to the Foxtail incident, Zone 3 Commander Karen Dixon said when a fight breaks out it is usually over by the time police arrive. In addition to calls to the 911 center, several patrons flagged down officers.

There were 11 uniformed officers in the area, and four or five plainclothesmen.

It was the decision of Sgt. Eric Baker to close the street following the incident. Two officers were pulled from Zone 3 to help close the street so patrons could safely exit the area.

About 750 patrons came out onto the street at closing; the occupancy of Foxtail is 850.

Sgt. Baker said it was evident there was fighting from the torn clothing, disheveled appearances, and more. But no one said they wanted to file a report.

City nighttime economy coordinator Allison Harnden commented that when incidents like this occurred in other cities she has worked, things always got better.

She said she feels the city is moving forward on best hospitality practices.

Things may happen quicker, she said, as stakeholders are "holding hands now."

An attendee said he was concerned no arrests were made as it appears there are "no consequences" on East Carson St. for violent actors.

Commander Dixon called it a "unique" incident, and said the police are reviewing video. There may yet be citations for unruly conduct or arrests, she said. On good nights, police presence serves as "visual deterrence."

Sgt. Baker said from January 1, 2018 to February 6, 2019, 11 p.m. to 4 a.m. on the South Side, there were 2,000-2,500 calls for service, resulting in 235 arrests and 563 citations.

Mr. DeSimone said in the past he did not feel uniformed officers were needed at the door as the "saturation patrols" were so effective, but now he will be adding the officers.

Mr. Kraus said funds from the Parking Enhancement District (PED) -- the enforcement of South Side Flats parking meters from 6 p.m. to midnight on Fridays and Saturdays – will be used to hire a consultant to work with individual bar owners on the best security for their establishments.

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

Mr. Kraus also said he hopes to soon share St. Patrick's Day celebration plans for the area with bar owners and the public. He said, last year, all the comments he received in his office about the event were complimentary.

The meeting began with a presentation by Randy Bartlett, Ph.D., head of the private City of Bridges High School, which is scheduled to open in Fall, 2019, on the fourth floor of 1212 East Carson St.

The school will open primarily with 9th and 10th graders, but 11th and 12th graders are encouraged to apply. While the initial enrollment will be 25-35 students, an eventual full enrollment of 140 students is anticipated.

Tuition will be $15,000. Financial aid will be offered.

To a question if the school is one in a chain of such schools, Mr. Bartlett said it is not. If there is a demand in five years that may change, he said, but for now it is the only one.

For more information, visit: http://cityofbridgeshighschool.org/. For questions, email Mr. Bartlett at: randy@cityofbridgeshighschool.org.

Following the presentations, Tracy Myers, chair of the Development Review Committee (DRC), reported that a new, 280-unit, five-floor residential development is planned for an empty lot at the corner of Sarah and Sidney streets, beside the IBEW. It will be situated over a parking deck.

"The design is acceptable," she said.

The developers' hope is shovels in the ground this summer.

She also reported the zoning change of use sought for a Red Dog pet resort was approved by the Zoning Hearing Board.

The resort is planned for the corner of 26th and Sidney streets in the retail site on the first floor of the garage attached to City Apartments. The business will offer boarding, grooming, pet massages, and more, and is expected to hire up to 40 employees.

The zoning change was requested for the site because an animal care facility is not permitted in SouthSide Works.

Next, in the South Side Neighborhood Plan update, committee chair Ms. Myers said this evening's meeting was the second-to-the-last official Planning Forum meeting chaired by the retiring Hugh Brannan. 

Mr. Brannon then proposed that Tom Smith, editor of the South Pittsburgh Reporter, serve as interim chair beginning in April until new leadership is determined. Planning forum representatives voted yes to the plan.

Ms. Myers said as the Brashear Association's service area has evolved, with its focus of service is shifting to the Hilltop communities, it needs to be determined how forum leadership will be structured. Also, will the Planning Forum continue to operate on a consensus basis?

To help with that process, a request for proposal (RFP) was written to hire a consultant. 

In new business, the annual South Side Soup Contest, co-sponsored by the Brashear Association and the South Side Chamber of Commerce, was planned for Feb. 16.

Proceeds benefit the Brashear Association Food Pantry and programming at the Chamber's "Visit Pittsburgh" Welcome Center, located at 11th and East Carson streets.

The next general meeting of the South Side Slopes Neighborhood Association (SSSNA) will be at 6:30 p.m. on March 12 at the St. Paul of the Cross Monastery.

In the final news, Mr. Kraus reported that a full-time "Clean Team," retained with funds from the PED will be back on March 6 in time for St. Patrick's Day.

The Clean Team keeps 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.

As 10th to 18th streets is the primary night life, that area is targeted for the cleaning.

The next Planning Forum meeting will be on March 12.

 

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