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Contributing Writer 

City developing a vision plan for future transportation

 

February 4, 2020



Crime statistics, a new Hilltop Program Steering Committee, and the Dept. of Public Works' 4th Division site update were among the topics at the Jan. 23 meeting of the Mt. Oliver City/St. Clair Community Group held at the Ormsby Avenue Cafe.

Attendees included City Councilman Bruce Kraus and Zone 3 community relations Officer Christine Luffey.

Dara Braitman, of the city's Dept. of Mobility and Infrastructure (DOMI), discussed the developing Transportation Vision Plan for the city.

She said DOMI is the city's newest department, formed in 2017 "to manage the city's rights-of-way."

The vision plan is an opportunity for bold and proactive thinking about the future of Pittsburgh, she said.

An issue to be addressed by the vision plan is related to all of the changes over the past 50 years.

For instance, the peak total residents of 670,000 is now 300,000. What if 150,000 people return? How will we handle all of the extra vehicles? Ms. Braitman asked.

At one time there were 23 inclines, and now there are two. Old train lines have also come and gone. Ideas for other modes of transportation she has heard circulated the past few years include gondolas, ferries, and water taxis.

The draft plan is comprised of six themes involving connecting the world, the region, and neighborhood, and all of which will connect to the Pittsburgh Mobility principles.

Those principles are: no one dies or is seriously injured on city streets; every resident can access fresh fruits and vegetables within 20 minutes travel of home; all trips less than one mile as easy and enjoyable to achieve by non-vehicle; no household spend more than 45 percent of income on housing, transportation, and energy; our streets reflect the values and pride of Pittsburgh.

Managing the street and managing change also comprise the six themes, with the former including sidewalks and outdoor restaurant seating. Managing change raise issues like "Where should we build?" in light of active landslides requiring retention walls.

"The more we hear from you the more it helps us prioritize," Ms. Braitman said. Residents are requested to go to the DOMI website and leave comments on the proposed plan.

The next speaker, Officer Luffey, reported on the good news that there are only four police reports from the neighborhood from Dec. 1 to that day. Those include a theft from auto, stolen car, and the issuing of a bench warrant.

She also reported she received a phone call about a TV left on the sidewalk on Fisher St. She then sent a message that dumping will not be tolerated.

 Environmental Services do not pick up at the curb, she said. The good news is it has been removed.

"Don't be afraid to call 911 or 311," Officer Luffey said.

She also reported an accident on Parkwood Rd. in which a car crashed into two parked cars. The driver, who lives in the neighborhood, had a warrant for his arrest. He was charged with driving under suspension, and operating a vehicle without insurance and registration.

An attendee said she called 311 this week for two stolen or abandoned cars since November.

"Keep reporting these," Officer Luffey said.

To a question about cars parked on a sidewalk, Officer Luffey said the police will show up., but keep calling 911. But if there is one vehicle on the sidewalk, all cars parked on the sidewalk will also be tagged.

Next, Aaron Sukenik, executive director of the Hilltop Alliance, discussed the neighborhood mapping project, which involves a property inventory.

The opportunities include homeowner assistance and property recycling.

Regarding homeowner's assistance, Jeph Martin, of the Hilltop Alliance, said he has met with numerous residents who need help with titles, wills, and more.

There is also the Hilltop Alliance's Property Stabilization Program which aims to identify problems in the neighborhoods and help homeowners find solutions to those problems.

Regarding property recycling, Mr. Sukenik said vacant property that is tax delinquent for more than two years can be put up for sale.

The property recycling process plus outcomes include: development partnerships, Pittsburgh Housing Development Corp., and property reserve/land grant.

Mr. Sukenik said the cost to renovate abandoned homes is expensive, but it costs twice as much to build a new house in the city.

Leah Friedman, of the City of Pittsburgh Office of Community Affairs, reported on various opportunities, such as the Love Your Block grants. Funds are available up to $1,500 for neighborhood improvement projects. Apply at applyloveyourblock.pittsburghpa.gov until Jan. 31.

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. Incentives for volunteers are being offered, like raffles for lunch with Mayor Peduto and movie tickets.

Ms. Friedman also announced the Pittsburgh Water and Sewer Authority (PWSA) established a free lead line replacement program available to homeowners and tenants who meet certain income requirements.

To participate, call 866-762-234. For more information on lead in drinking water, visit lead.pgh2o.com, or call 412-255-8987.

Tonia Green spoke of her goal "to create an atmosphere where kids can be successful" at Pittsburgh Arlington K-8. She said the students tend to be very transient, so she wants to get them connected to the neighborhood.

That includes transportation for after-school activities; and weekend, evening, and summer programming.

She would also like to turn the school "into a hub for the community" that community groups would have access to in the evenings for meetings.

Regarding the Dept. of Public Works' (DPW) 4th Division site redevelopment, Mr. Kraus said the new campus will be up and running for winter 2021.

DPW shut down the former Division 4 facility a few years ago when it became uninhabitable as the building was toxic and unhealthy, and no longer viable. Division 4 responsibilities have since been split between Divisions 3 and 5.

The new campus was supposed to open this winter. However, there was a setback as a seller wanted too much money for his property which the city wanted to buy for the project. Later, the seller agreed to sell, and the city bought the property in October.

The campus is now being redesigned.

In announcements, community members are sought to be part of a new Hilltop Program Steering Committee that will oversee future programming needs in the Hilltop region.

For this committee, the Brashear Association is seeking 22 active, committed people who live within the 11 Hilltop communities.

The deadline to apply is Feb. 21. Email: kelli.murphy@brashearboard.org for questions.

Hilltop residents may apply at: https://tinyurl.com/to3z43t

Written applications can be picked up at the Carnegie Library in Carrick or Knoxville or any Brashear Association location.

The next general meeting of the Mt. Oliver City/St. Clair Community Group will be on March 26.

 

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