Mount residents hear from PPC, PWSA on lead line replacement
Also, Shop Local initiative merchant
March 26, 2019
Discussions about park improvements, community business development, lead line replacements, and local forestry packed a full agenda at last Thursday’s Mount Washington Community Development Corporation (MWCDC) community forum.
The Pittsburgh Parks Conservancy (PPC) opened the meeting with an introduction to their city-wide “Listening Tour.” The presentation is part of an effort to collect public input for the creation of an equitable park restoration strategy across the city.
According to a recent study conducted by the PPC, $400 million of capital improvement funding would be required to restore all city parks to their highest level of quality. The city also has a $13 million annual budget shortfall for ongoing park maintenance. The 24 parks within District 2 face a $21.9 million capital funding backlog alone.
As a result, the PPC is looking to prioritize park enhancements based on community feedback. Community engagement manager Erin Tobin distributed a survey to capture community input on the importance of various park assets including consistency, construction, maintenance, and programming.
The PPC will then return to present the aggregated results and final park restoration plan in June.
“The goal is that every park should be brought to a high level of quality,” Ms. Tobin said. “A healthy park is a healthy community. We can restore parks so everyone can enjoy them in an equitable way.”
Residents who did not attend the meeting, but would like to provide input can complete the survey online at http://www.pittsburghparks.org/listening-tour. To volunteer with the PPC, residents can email firstname.lastname@example.org
Following Ms. Tobin’s presentation, Jim Kaczorowski, owner and manager of the Shop ’n Save on Virginia Avenue, addressed the forum as part of the Development Committee’s 2019 shop local initiative.
Since purchasing the grocery store in 2011, Mr. Kaczorowski has consistently reinvested in store improvements including new signage, doors, and floors. He has also upgraded the deli and hot food cases and purchased a new meat smoker.
“We’re trying to keep up with your needs as best as we possibly can,” Mr. Kaczorowski said.
According to Mr. Kaczorowski, Shop n’ Save receives approximately one third of the potential business on Mount Washington and many residents are leaving the community to shop at The Market District or Trader Joe’s.
Mr. Kaczorowski said his team is willing to create the best possible experience to meet customer demands, but needs a commitment from the community to shop locally at his store.
“If I don’t have what you want there, please let us know,” Mr. Kaczorowski said. “We have over 105 years of grocery experience. We’re open to anything, but I need a commitment from you that you’re going to come in and shop.”
Any residents who have requests for Mr. Kaczorowski are welcome to leave a note at the store’s management office.
The next speaker was Tasha Butler from the Pittsburgh Water and Sewer Authority (PWSA), who said several Mount Washington residents have been identified as eligible for lead line replacements on behalf of PWSA.
Homeowners who have a publicly-owned lead line serving their property and meet income requirements are eligible to have their lead line replaced. Residents who would like to determine if their property qualifies can call 866-762-2348.
PWSA customers who do not qualify for lead line replacement are still able to receive free lead testing kits. Residents who detect high lead levels may be eligible for free water filters.
Following PWSA, Lisa Ceoffe from the Forestry Division of the Department of Public Works discussed the process for tree removal and spoke about Mount Washington’s recent landslide issues.
The 16-person Forestry Division is responsible for tree maintenance and removal across the city. Any resident who would like to have a tree removed can call 3-1-1, and the request will be routed to the team.
Additionally, city residents who wish to have “street trees” added to the sidewalks near their property can call 3-1-1 and the Forestry Division will conduct an assessment. In order to have a tree planted by spring of 2020, residents must submit a request by September of 2019.
New 3-1-1 request tracking software has enabled the Forestry Division to operate more efficiently and reduce the number of requests in their queue from 2,500 last October to approximately 500.
Multiple residents asked about trimming the trees along Grandview Avenue overlooks as a way to maintain a view of the city.
According to Ms. Ceoffe, trimming or removing trees on the hillside along Grandview Avenue could result in landslide issues. It also presents a safety risk as it would be difficult for maintenance workers to repel down the hillside.
“The logistics of it are a nightmare due to safety concerns,” Ms. Ceoffe said.
Ms. Ceoffe said multiple landslides in the community were likely a result of tree removal or tree trimming. The trees along Grandview Avenue create a “canopy effect” and absorb rainwater and prevent it from washing away the hillside.