South Pittsburgh Reporter - Serving South Pittsburgh Since 1939

By Margaret L. Smykla
Contributing Writer 

Banner updates, police substation discussed at forum

 

November 19, 2019

The former Zone 3 Police Station on Jane Street in South Side may reopen in 2020 as a police sub-station.

The Nov. 12 meeting of the South Side Planning Forum included updates on the South Side Parking Enhancement District (PED), holiday banners, tree plantings, and more.

City Councilman Bruce Kraus and city nighttime economy coordinator Allison Harnden delivered the October updates on the PED, which is the enforcement of South Side Flats parking meters from 6 p.m. to midnight on Fridays and Saturdays.

The revenue from the PED must be invested back in the neighborhood for public safety, cleanliness, and infrastructure improvements.

For the four weekends in October, the gross meter revenue was $16,837.50.

The gross meter revenue year-to-date is $176,951.77. The gross meter revenue since April, 2017, when the PED began, is $555,177.40.

Expenditures for the month included about $3,000 for holidays banners which are themed "South Side Celebrates" with silver and gold colors.

The banners are 36-inches by 40-inches, and erected from 10th to 25th streets on the new poles.

Installation cost about $1,500. The banners and installation are being paid for from PED funds. There is currently $211,995.89 in the PED account.

Block by Block, the two-person Clean Team retained with PED funds to keep the E. Carson St. corridor maintained, removed 19,179 pounds of trash, and 59 graffiti/stickers in October. Most of the trash was from the business district.

The team lent hospitality assistance 40 times.

The main daily focus has been East Carson St. between 10th and 25th streets, and the side streets about one block in both directions.

Mr. Kraus said that, last year, funds were saved by having only one person in the Clean Team in January and February. He suggested revisiting that for 2020 to save money.

Mr. Kraus also reported Pennsylvanian Resource Council (PRC) approached them about landfill waste on St. Patrick's Day. One idea is to have the Clean Team change bags and dump the waste in the truck. The PRC team would then go through the truck the next day and remove the appropriate waste.

Regarding the holiday, he said he wants to utilize the portable toilets again. For last year's St. Patrick's Day, about 45 portable toilets, paid by PED funds, were available in five surface lots for a cost of $3,500.

About 7,500 gallons of waste were collected that day.

On another topic, Mr. Kraus said Mayor Peduto announced plans for a new police substation in South Side in late 2020 during his annual budget address that day. It could be located in the former Zone 3 police station in the Flats, which will need renovation.

"The details are still very much in the air," Mr. Kraus said.

To a question if the substation would be open seven days, he said the matter is very fluid.

"We're not one hundred percent sure," he said, as there are issues of bringing the facility up to code, funding, staffing, and more.

As for the creation of a Zone 7 that would encompass the North Shore entertainment district and Cultural District and Flats and more, he said "it's more of a vision."

"I think it's a little further down the road," he said, adding the mayor favors it.

Regarding the South Side UPMC hospital property, Mr. Kraus said construction is occurring.

Hundreds of UPMC information technology (IT) personnel and others will be moving into the building.

"It's an amazing outcome," he said.

Services, such as outpatient radiology (x-ray), urgent care, outpatient rehabilitation, and more will be moving a few blocks away to the UPMC outpatient services building at 23rd and Jane streets.

Next, Anthony Kobak introduced himself as the new South Side neighborhood planner. He replaces Felipe Palomo, who left the position to become project manager of facilities for the Dept. of Public Works.

"I'm very excited to be in such a rich historic area," he said.

Next, Hersh Merenstein, community liaison in the Office of Community Affairs, reported applications are open for the Love Your Block grants. Funds are available up to $1,500 for neighborhood improvement projects.

Apply at applyloveyourblock.pittsburghpa.gov until Jan. 31. An information session on the grants was be held at the Black Forge Coffee House on Nov. 12.

For jobs at the U.S. Census to be a census taker in your neighborhood, visit: census.gov.

The annual "Get Stuffed With Love" program that ensures no city residents go without a traditional turkey dinner on Thanksgiving will be held again this year. The deadline to call in a meal is Nov. 21. Call 412-488-8326.

There are no income or age requirements. Everyone in need is eligible to receive a free, warm meal delivered to their residence.

Mr. Merenstein also announced the city is in need of volunteers for its Snow Angels programs, in which snow shovelers help elderly residents and others with disabilities.

To be a volunteer, or to sign-up for volunteers to remove snow from your sidewalk and/or driveway, call 311.

Mr. Kraus next reported 67 street trees will be planted this month instead of waiting for the PennDOT project to be completed. 

Volunteers are sought to help with the planting on Nov. 20 and 23, from 9 a.m. to noon. Volunteers should show up on East Carson St. from 17th to 25th streets.

He said he believes PennDOT $12 million East Carson St. safety improvement project will begin next year in good weather.

In the report of the neighborhood plan committee, Tom Smith said the committee decided to not pursue funding for a consultant as had been discussed as committee members felt they could do the work themselves. A consultant would be costly and extend the process, he said.

Last year, the thought was that a consultant was needed to help determine how Planning Forum leadership will be structured. Other questions would have been: Was it realistic for the Planning Forum to continue to operate on a consensus basis? Should the Planning Forum become a 501(c)3 nonprofit corporation? and more.

While a request for proposal (RFP) was drafted, funds needed to be raised to fund the consultant.

Mr. Smith said the Planning Forum is losing its effectiveness as a community-wide organization with so many groups becoming Registered Community Organization (RCO)s.

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.

With so many RCOs, there is discussion within the neighborhood plan committee for the Planning Forum to include more sector representatives, such as arts and entertainment, Bar and Restaurant Association, library, and more.

There is also discussion about the Planning Forum meeting quarterly, but with some version meeting monthly with the sector representatives.

The important thing is that there be a place for groups to talk to each other and develop a vision for the future.

Mr. Smith said since the Planning Forum has always worked on a consensus basis, a member group may vote "no" and the forum wouldn't take a position.

Today, community groups are being empowered and want more of a vote, he said.

In member reports, the South Side Slopes Neighborhood Association (SSSNA) will hold its annual holiday party from 6:30 to 9 p.m. on Dec. 12 at the Zenith on S. 26th St.

Candice Gonzalez, of the South Side Chamber of Commerce, reported Small Business Saturday, which promotes South Side businesses, will be held on Nov. 30. An open house will be held at the Welcome Center.

The 9th Annual Mittens & Mingles will be held on Dec. 4 from 6 to 10 p.m. at J. Verno Studios. The fundraiser benefits the South Side Welcome Center and raises funds for the Brashear Association's holiday toys and initiatives in South Pittsburgh.

The annual South Side Soup Contest will be held on Feb. 22.

Next, a representative from the office of state Rep. Jake Wheatley, Jr., reported the office and PennDOT will offer help with drivers' licenses and more at 5:30 p.m. on Dec. 2, 900 Delmont Ave., Beltzhoover.

The next Planning Forum meeting will be on Dec. 10.

 

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