South Pittsburgh Reporter - Serving South Pittsburgh Since 1939

By Austin Vaught
Contributing Writer 

PWSA prepares to replace lines in 600 more homes

 

August 20, 2019



Updates from city park rangers, PWSA, and the Zone 3 Public Safety Council were on the agenda for a “local services” themed August community forum hosted by the Mount Washington Community Development Corporation (MWCDC) last week.

MWCDC Executive Director Gordon Davidson welcomed the community and announced two upcoming events.

The first is a Mount Washington community picnic that will take place in Olympia Park on the afternoon of August 24. The second event is the MWCDC’s annual Party on the Mount which will take place September 21 from 3:30-9:30 p.m. on Grandview Avenue. Tickets will be available for the party via an email newsletter or the MWCDC Facebook page.

Mr. Davidson also reminded residents the MWCDC has three board committees responsible for executing projects supporting the organization’s mission: the Advocacy Committee led by Gale Schwartz, the Development Committee led by Greg Panza, and the Emerald View Park and Sustainability Committee led by Terry Moss.

Residents are encouraged to reach out to the committee chairs for information on volunteering for MWCDC sponsored initiatives.

Following the opening, Mr. Davidson introduced Zach Zelazny, a city park ranger assigned to Emerald View Park, who described his day-to-day work and the services park rangers provide to the community.

According to Mr. Zelazny, the city park rangers formed in 2016 and are part of the city’s Department of Public Safety. Emerald View Park currently has one full time ranger and one part-time ranger on staff.

Mr. Zelazny said park rangers listen to the needs of patrons, promote public safety in city parks, and serve as a bridge to help park visitors communicate with emergency responders. Additionally, they host a wide range of programming and activities for residents.

While park rangers are not permitted to make arrests, they can write citations. Smoking and dogs off leash are among the most common citations issued.

“Think of us as your eyes and ears in the parks,” Mr. Zelazny said. “We make daily reports to our boss, and our boss makes weekly reports to the director of public safety.”

Residents with information about the welfare of a city park should first call 311, as park-related calls are automatically forwarded to park rangers. Specific issues regarding excessive litter, fallen trees, should be reported to the Department of Public Works.

Questions about park programming can be sent directly to the park rangers by emailing Parkrangers@pittsburghpa.gov

Following Mr. Zelazny’s presentation, representatives from PWSA provided an update on the lead service line replacement program, which is resuming in sections of Mount Washington over the next two weeks.

The program offers free water line replacement services to approximately 600 eligible Mount Washington homeowners. In order to qualify, lead must be detected in both PWSA’s line, which extends from the water main to the curb, and the homeowner’s line, which extends from the curb to the basement.

Additionally, eligible residents must have returned signed paperwork to PWSA, which was mailed out last November. If residents received a packet in the mail, but did not return the paperwork, they can call PWSA directly at 412-255-2423.

If a home qualifies, PWSA will replace the line at no cost to the homeowner. Approximately 98 percent of line replacements do not involve any yard disturbance. For these cases, PWSA will “snake” the pipe from the sidewalk to the basement of the home.

However, on occasions, PWSA will need to dig a trench in the homeowner’s yard. In these rare cases, PWSA will backfill the trench, but the cost of yard restoration will be the responsibility of the homeowner.

Lead program manager Dan Duffy said PWSA will call the homeowner in advance to schedule the work, and the project is typically done within a day.

“They will usually shut [the water] off in the morning and after lunch, it’s back on.” Mr. Duffy said.

In addition to lead line replacement, PWSA also offers lead water testing kits and various customer assistance programs through the Dollar Energy Fund.

To receive a free testing kit, residents must submit a form online at http://pgh2o.com/leadform/. Kits are usually shipped within 10 to 14 business days.

Customers at or below 250 percent of the federal poverty level can register for a Winter Shut Off Moratorium to prevent the termination of service. Customers must register between December 1 and March 31.

Also available is a Bill Discount Program, which offers residents at or below 150 percent of the federal poverty level a 75 percent reduction of fixed monthly water and wastewater conveyance charges. These customers are also eligible for up to $300 per year of cash assistance.

To learn more about these programs, residents should contact Dollar Energy Fund at 866-762-2368.

Next on the agenda was a quick update from Jessica Benham, secretary of the Zone 3 Public Safety Council.

Ms. Benham announced Zone 3 will be hosting the city-wide public safety meeting on October 16. The meeting is tentatively scheduled to take place at the Pittsburgh Federation of Teachers building in South Side.

She also encouraged residents to attend the next Zone 3 public safety meeting, which will be September 16 at the Knoxville Library.

The next speaker was Chad Chalmers from Wildman Chalmers Design, LLC, who presented a plan to demolish the vacant building at 1204 Grandview Avenue and replace it with a single-family home.

According to Mr. Chalmers, the current building has structural problems and needs to be demolished. The new proposed home would extend across both lot lines, which would provide an urban look and eliminate the small alleys currently on both sides of the lot.

“We are asking to build to the complete lot lines on both sides,” Mr. Chalmers said.” We will be removing the alley where trash accumulates.”

The proposed home would eliminate one street parking space on Grandview Avenue, but the property would provide two off-street parking spaces for the homeowner.

Residents expressed two concerns with the proposal: The first concern is the elimination of a single parking spot near the Duquesne Incline, which would further decrease parking availability for tourists.

The second concern is that the current infrastructure of Grandview Avenue isn’t able to support development and the construction could result in a landslide or other damage to the hillside.

Mr. Chalmers said his company is partnering with the same team of geo-technical engineers that worked to stabilize the Duquesne Incline, and together they will evaluate the construction’s impact to surrounding infrastructure.

Mr. Davidson proposed Mr. Chalmer’s return to a future forum and provide a full presentation on the development plan.

The next MWCDC community forum will be September 19 at the Mount Washington Senior Healthy Living Center on Virginia Avenue.

 

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