South Pittsburgh Reporter - Serving South Pittsburgh Since 1939

By Margaret L. Smykla
Contributing Writer 

East Carson Street work should begin this week for city


Last updated 3/18/2019 at 8:43pm

The March 12 meeting of the South Side Planning Forum was the last meeting chaired by Hugh Brannan. He is retiring from the Brashear Association after 36 years of service and as Planning Forum chair.

City Councilman Bruce Kraus kicked off the meeting presenting him with a proclamation declaring March 12, 2019 as “Hugh Brannan Day in Pittsburgh.”

The proclamation honored him “for his tireless work,” detailing his years of service to the community.

Mr. Brannan called Mr. Kraus a “good friend, and good supporter of our work.”

Tom Smith, editor of the South Pittsburgh Reporter, will serve as interim chair of the Planning Forum beginning in April while the neighborhood plan committee decides on restructuring.

Mr. Brannan said a new executive director of the Brashear Association would soon be announced.

At past meetings, Mr. Brannan has said he does not foresee a situation in which Brashear does not serve South Side in some way, but Brashear’s focus of service is shifting to the Hilltop communities.

For that reason, Tracy Myers, of the neighborhood plan committee, has stated it cannot be assumed the next executive director or the board of Brashear will consider it necessary for the organization to maintain its role in the Planning Forum.

To help with the process of determining how leadership will be structured, a consultant will be hired.

The evening’s first presentation introduced Dana Boesenberg, principal of Pittsburgh Phillips K-5 in South Side. She has been on the job for six months. Her prior position was vice-principal at Carrick High School.

“The community is a strong supporter of the school,” said Barbara Rudiak, president of the South Side Community Council (SSCC), and a former principal at Pittsburgh Phillips K-5.

In an overview of the school, Ms. Boesenberg said the school is a Spanish Emphasis Magnet School as well as a neighborhood school. All students receive direct Spanish language instruction throughout the week that extends and enriches the core curriculum. 

At the school’s annual Fiesta de la Paz on April 25 the students’ Spanish activities will be showcased.

There are 266 students, most of whom are on magnet status.

Unique to the school are push periods, in which students receive additional support in areas in which they are having difficulty. Also unique to Phillips is three kindergarten sections with a typical small classroom size of 17 students.

School clubs include “Strong Women, Strong Girls,” chess club, swim team, climbing club, and more.

Through Positive Behavior Interventions and Supports (PBIS), supports and interventions are provided to ensure clear expectations for a safe and engaging learning environment.

It rewards positive behaviors to increase good behavior and decrease negative behavior.

PBIS is built on a foundation of expectations that are broad and age-appropriate, with most revolving around objectives like being respectful, responsible, and safe.

To an attendee’s question about the age for admittance, the cut-off date is Sept. 30, meaning a student must be age 5 before Sept. 30.

The other presentation was an update on pending East Carson St. improvements by engineer and project manager Emily Jo Gaspich, P.E., of the city’s Dept. of Mobility and Infrastructure (DOMI) - Streets Division.

She said work on the city’s East Carson Street streetscaping project from 10th to 25th streets will begin on Monday, March 18, after the St. Patrick’s Day celebration “to help reduce the craziness.” The work will last six projects, weather permitting.

The DOMI scope is: street and pedestrian level lighting; hanging baskets from 10th to 17th streets; street trees from 17th to 25th streets; and incidentals like exposed aggregate concrete restoration from behind the curb to the back edge of the tree pit, replacement of signage, and removal of old light fixtures.

Existing Carson St. trees will be removed, but trees will be back in 2020.

The contractor is A. Merante Contracting.

Ms. Gaspich said there will be an inspector on site at all time for residents to contact.

“They will help with any issue,” she said.

The work occurring at the current time is a Duquesne Light project, she said.

The city project will be done in conjunction with the $12 million East Carson St. safety improvement project that will extend from the Smithfield Street Bridge to 33rd Street, and be carried out by the state Dept. of Transportation [PennDOT].

It will include resurfacing, upgrading intersections, ADA ramps and more, and begin in July.

She said the hope is to have most of the city work completed before the PennDOT project begins.

For the city project, there will be two crews to start: at 10th Street, and at 17th Street The crews will work eastward, and spend three weeks per block. Work will occur from 7 a.m. to 5 p.m. weekdays.

There could be a third crew if there is bad weather delaying progress, she said.

During the project, all properties will have access maintained. There will always be access to buildings for customers and deliveries.

“It’s a long time coming,” Mr. Kraus said at the presentation’s end.

“We ask for your patience and consideration.”

He said the trees will go, but will be back after the PennDot work. The lights will also come at the end.

“The lighting will make a significant impact on safety,” he said.

Next, in her report of the Development Review Committee (DRC), Ms. Myers reported on a potential new clubhouse/office building on the upper level parking lot of the South Side Marina.

While one-quarter of property is owned by the developer, another one-quarter acre of property must be purchased from the Urban Redevelopment Authority of Pittsburgh (URA).

The next step is for the developer to go to the URA and make a presentation and acquire the one-quarter acre, she said.

In new business, the South Side Chamber of Commerce, SSCC, and South Side Smart Streets will sponsor a South Side—District 3 Candidates Forum on March 25 from 6-8:30 p.m. at the City Theatre. There will be a cash bar at 6 p.m.

The annual South Side Soup Contest, co-sponsored by the Brashear Association and the South Side Chamber of Commerce, and held on Feb. 16, was a big success. There were 1,400 participants, and 2,000 canned goods collected.

Proceeds benefited the Brashear Association Food Pantry and programming at the Chamber’s “Visit Pittsburgh” Welcome Center, at 11th and East Carson streets.

Volunteers from four states assisted in the event.

The South Side Spring Social will be held on April 6, 6 to 10 p.m., at La Palapa, 2224 East Carson Street. Tickets are $15 each, or 2 for $25, and includes complimentary food, cash bar, and live music. Tickets may be purchased at the door, or on Venmo: @SouthSideCommunityCouncil

Proceeds benefit South Side Park and Esser Plaza at 12th and East Carson.

The 28th Annual South Side Home Tour will be held on Sunday, May 19 from 11 a.m.- 4 p.m. Contact the SSCC if you would like your home added to the tour.

“It’s been an interesting run,” Mr. Brannan said at meeting’s end about his tenure.

“I’ve seen a lot of changes in the community.

“I’m confident that things will continue to move forward. It’s been fun.”

His final advice to forum members: “Keep talking to each other. It’s so important.”

The next Planning Forum meeting will be on April 9.


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