South Pittsburgh Reporter - Serving South Pittsburgh Since 1939

By Margaret L. Smykla
Contributing Writer 

Board elections, bylaw changes at the SSCC meeting

 


Board elections and bylaw changes topped the annual general meeting of the South Side Community Council (SSCC) on June 24 at the Brashear Center.

The meeting also included a presentation by Allison Harnden, Pittsburgh's nighttime economy manager.

SSCC President Barbara Rudiak began the meeting with an overview of the organization, including that it is all volunteer.

'I like to think we accomplish a lot," she said. Among the group's 2018-19 accomplishments are: hosted National Night Out; sponsored a home tour/garden tour to showcase homes/gardens in the neighborhood; continued to clear the Riverfront Trail of invasive plants/trees; continued to work with Duquesne University to remediate problems with student residents; and more.

Regarding board elections, members were asked to cast a vote for the five candidates, or write in alternate names. Candidates' bios were also distributed.

Reelected were: Michael Clark, Mary Dowd, Kathleen Petrillo, Barbara Rudiak, and Jane Yanosick.

Board member Matt Brungo explained the changes in the bylaws which members would be asked to vote to accept later in the evening. He and board member Joe Bielecki crafted the updates as some bylaws needed changed to comply with criteria for becoming a Registered Community Organization (RCO).

The designation gives formal status to community organizations that register with the City of Pittsburgh, and provides benefits to those organizations.

The benefits include notification of public hearings, guaranteed meetings with developers/applicants, placement on official brochures, and more.

Among the topic updates were geographic boundaries, membership dues, electronic notification/attendance, board size, director resignation process, numbers of regular annual meetings, rules for contracts, conflict of interest policy, and a non-discrimination policy.

For boundaries, that of the SSCC is the South Side Flats as defined by the city geographic map: "all the land north of the Norfolk Southern Rail Line that runs through the Josephine St. corridor, with a northern border of the Monongahela River, between the Liberty Bridge to the west and the border line between the City of Pittsburgh and Baldwin Borough to the east."

With membership fees, while there are none, the board of directors may set annual dues by resolution.

The SSCC shall have two general meetings a year: one in March, and one in September.

For notice of members meetings, an electronic notice, stating the place, day, and time, was added to the bylaws. A director may also attend a meeting via an electronic device.

The board of directors may vote to enlarge the board up to 21 directors. There are currently 15 board members.

While all are volunteers, the bylaws now state that no officer or director shall receive compensation.

A director may resign at any time by delivering a written resignation to the board chairman.

There are also rules now for contracts, and more.

Later in the meeting members voted to adopt the new bylaws.

In her presentation, Ms. Harnden, who has 20 years of experience working in nighttime economies, and who began her Pittsburgh position three-and-a-half years, said the Responsible Hospitality Institute (RHI) works with residents and businesses to come up with recommendations on improving the city's nightlife. 

In 2012, the challenges here were: closing time crunch; limited diversions; narrow business mix; lack of connectivity; safety resources and policing style; transportation; and patron/non-patron civility.

The recommendations from a sociable city plan assessment came in five areas: personal accountability; district management; public safety; hospitality; and transportation.

Regarding personal accountability, the accomplishments have been: code of conduct for off-campus life; rooftop ordinance; block parties/good neighbor standards; social marketing campaign; and engaging students in marketing campaign.

With district management, the accomplishments are: creation of a social occupancy measurement tool; quarterly meetings of district managers; attempted hospitality zone overlay; and commercial district strategy.

For public safety, there has been: door security training; safety pullover lane; saturation patrol; improved relations with nightlife; social host ordinance; attempted holding center and police, fire, LCB, and EMS met with bars.

Regarding hospitality, there is: South Side Bar and Restaurant Association; best practices (scanners, door security, sound suppression tools); and bar safety meetings.

The nightlife has also benefitted from expanded night parking enforcement, or the South Side PED, which is the enforcement of South Side Flats parking meters from 6 p.m. to midnight on Fridays and Saturdays, and which was created in 2017. 

The revenue from the PED must be invested back in the neighborhood for public safety, cleanliness, and infrastructure improvements. Since it began, the total collected revenue is close to half a million dollars.

Ms. Harnden said the city also contributes to the effort via advising council/mayor, and its current streetscape plans. Residents help by attending community meetings and calling 311.

"That's how we prioritize," she said of the latter.

Ms. Harnden's "Goals and Wish List" items include a dedicated police unit to the nighttime economy, for which the city will need to spend money.

"We need people who know this area and have relationships with residents, businesses, and others," she said.

The city would also need to spend money for another of her goals: night/weekend code compliance.

Other wish list items are: safety ambassadors, mobility hubs, sound management strategy, and weekend trash collection.

"We need it, but who wants to hear the trucks," she said of the latter.

In conclusion, as to "How Can You Help," Ms. Harnden said to weigh in on the budget; state and local advocacy; continue to call 311 and 911; make noise about successes; and convene resident groups citywide to share information and best practices.

Ms. Rudiak called it a "real coup" for city Councilman Bruce Kraus to bring Ms. Harnden to Pittsburgh.

"I cannot say how lucky we are to have someone of Allison's caliber here.

"It has made my life infinitely better," Mr. Kraus said.

Regarding the South Side PED, he said while it was difficult to get off the ground due to mindsets that it has never been done before, weekend revenue is consistent at close to $4,500.

Commenting on a potential new police zone, Mr. Kraus said Mayor Peduto likes the idea if it can be budgeted.

A seventh police zone would encompass hospitality areas: Flats, Station Square, Downtown, North Shore, and the Strip District. The other zones would be for residential.

The idea came out of RHI.

In the announcements that concluded the meeting, the self-guided Sixth Annual South Side Garden Tour will be held from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. on July 14. So far, nine gardens have signed on to be toured. Tickets are available at gt19.mysouthside.org.

General admission is $20. VIP admission, with includes a reception following the tour and more, is $40.

Proceeds benefit the Esser Plaza Revitalization Project.

The Brashear Association's "Christmas in July" toy drive will be held from 5 - 8 p.m. on July 24 at the Double Wide Grill, 2339 E. Carson St. Attendees are urged to bring a new, unwrapped toy or a cash donation.

The annual drive begins in the summer so as not to run short of toys in December.

From noon to 4 p.m. on July 27, the South Side Park Goat Fest reforestation project fundraiser will be held. There will be musical acts, food trucks, craft vendors, goats, and more. The organizer is the Friends of South Side Park.

OpenStreetsPGH will be held on July 28. In the free event, miles of city streets are closed to traffic from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. for joggers, bicyclists, walkers, and skaters to use the streets for fun in a car-free environment.

The four-mile route will encompass Downtown, Uptown, and the South Side, including the Birmingham Bridge, 10th St. Bridge, and the Armstrong Tunnel.

The 2019 South Side Summer Golf Classic, sponsored by the South Side Chamber of Commerce and the South Side Bar and Restaurant Association, will be held on July 29 at the South Hills Country Club in Whitehall. For details, visit: http://www.southsidechamber.org/golf-outing-2019.

The next SSCC meeting will held in September.

 

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