South Pittsburgh Reporter - Serving South Pittsburgh Since 1939

By Margaret L. Smykla
Contributing Writer 

PED funds being used for cleaning, banners, Saint Patrick's Day

 

February 18, 2020



The February 11 meeting of the South Side Planning Forum began with updates on the South Side Parking Enhancement District (PED), or the enforcement of South Side Flats parking meters from 6 p.m. - Pmidnight on Fridays and Saturdays.

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

The update was by city Councilman Bruce Kraus and city nighttime economy coordinator Allison Harnden.

For the weekends in December, the gross meter revenue was $15,504.37. From January to December, 2019, $208,324.76 was collected. Since April 4, 2017, when the PED began, $590,386.68 was collected in gross meter revenue.

Paid enforcement was $1,167 in December; $17,928.04 from January to December, 2019; and $54,099.29 since April 4, 2017.

For January, 2020, the PED revenue totaled $16,007.61. The gross meter revenue since April, 2017, is $606,292.84.

Block by Block, the Clean Team retained with PED funds to keep the E. Carson St. corridor maintained, removed 5,050 pounds of trash, and eight graffiti/stickers in January.

The total trash removal in 2019 was 142,971 pounds. Graffiti/stickers removed totaled 593.

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

Last year, funds were saved by reducing weekly service hours for the Clean Team in January and February. This year, service is again being reduced to one 20-hour week for winter trash maintenance.

There will be one Clean Team ambassador in the South Side from Wednesdays to Sundays, four hours each day. The cost for January-February will be about $11,000.

This month, funds collected by the Parking Authority will be turned over to the PED account, as this is done annually in February.

Mr. Kraus said he would like to see trash reduced along the business corridor. Even Giant Eagle is examining their use of plastic, he said.

“How do we reduce?” is the issue he is interested in, he said.

Regarding the St. Patrick’s Parade Day celebration on Saturday, March 14, Ms. Harnden said the city is working with Uber, Lyft, and the free Nite Rider shuttle with the goal for partiers to leave vehicles at home that day.

Last year, there were no arrests, and no over-occupancies.

There will be portable toilets again for St. Patrick’s Day. Last year, about 45 portable toilets, paid by PED funds, were available in five surface lots for a cost of $3500. About 7,500 gallons of waste were collected that day.

The Office of Nighttime Economy issued 10 rules for businesses for a safe holiday. They include: stay under occupancy; keep exits clear; no VIP parties; no sidewalk sales or sandwich boards; no service to minors; no sound travel beyond your property line; and be free of all patrons by 2:30 a.m.

Regarding banners on the new poles, Mr. Kraus said if they are up for more than four months, they must go through the city Arts Commission, which has regulations for banners.

If banners are hung four times a year, the cost would be $12,000 to $15,000.

The recent holiday banners cost $4,844.73, and $1,567.50 for installation. The banners were 36-inches by 40-inches, and erected from 10th to 25th streets.

The expense was paid from PED funds.

Mr. Kraus said the ideas for new banners include activities that can be done in the South Side, like “Discover,” “Read”, “Volunteer,” and more. There could also be “Historic South Side” banners.

He also reported Esser Plaza is going through a rezoning change, with council likely to approve it.

He said as it is a public space, it should be okay to use PED funds for lighting and trees for Esser Plaza. He has said in past meetings that there is a theory of public safety through environmental design which supports adding lights to the plaza.

To a question about the recent active shooter training, Ms. Harnden said it was the first time it was held, so it did not attract a large crowd. However, those who participated said on a survey afterwards that they liked it, it was valuable, and they would recommend it to others.

Next, Kathy Hamilton-Vargo, pastor of South Side Presbyterian Church, asked about the status of an East Carson St. business district strategy, for which the development process began two years ago.

The URA and the city, along with several South Side community groups, want to develop a community-driven, three- to five-year business district blueprint for strengthening East Carson St. from S. 10th St. to S. 25th St.

Ms. Harnden said a meeting would be held that Friday on the matter. The process was then expected to reconvene in late March.

Mr. Kraus next reported the East Carson St. safety improvement project, that will extend from the Smithfield St. Bridge to 33rd St., and be carried out by the state Dept. of Transportation [PennDOT], would begin soon. It will include resurfacing, upgrading intersections, ADA ramps and more.

The city has already invested $3 million for new lights, 77 street trees, and more.

Next, James McNeel, of the City Theatre, said the lack of recycling along Carson St. is troubling. He cited glassware on Carson St. going into the trash.

“It is a major concern,” he said.

Mr. Kraus said he would like to see Carson St. businesses begin the conversation.

“There is a clear social consciousness out there now that we need to reduce,” he said.

In old business, Planning Forum Interim Chair Tom Smith said the South Side Neighborhood Plan committee did not meet in January. They will next meet on February 20.

He said there will be discussion of what the Planning Forum will look like moving forward, like transitioning into group coordination: instead of a “planning forum,” it will be more of a “neighborhood forum.”

At past meetings, he said the Planning Forum is losing its effectiveness as a community-wide organization as member groups, like the South Side Community Council (SSCC) and the South Side Slopes Neighborhood Association (SSSNA), become Registered Community Organization (RCO)s with the city.

Community groups are becoming empowered and don’t want other organizations making decisions for them, he said.

It also looks like the Planning Forum will give up control of the Development Review Committee (DRC), which is a committee of the Planning Forum.

Under the proposal, the DRC would become a committee under the SSCC, while also advising the SSSNA and the South Side Chamber of Commerce.

But more discussion will follow.

In new business, there will be a meeting at 6:30 p.m. on February 24 at the Brashear Center on the upcoming PennDOT East Carson St. safety improvement project.

The next general meeting of the SSCC will be at 6:30 p.m. on March 23 at the Brashear Center.

In news of the SSSNA, the group would be applying that week to become an RCO.

The next general meeting of the SSSNA will be at 6:30 p.m. on March 10 at St. Paul of the Cross Monastery.

Candice Gonzalez, of the South Side Chamber of Commerce, said she is looking forward to the annual South Side Soup Contest, co-sponsored by the Brashear Association and the Chamber, on February 22.

Proceeds benefit the Brashear Association initiatives and the Chamber’s “Visit Pittsburgh” Welcome Center at 11th and East Carson streets.

Mr. Smith next reported the city’s Christmas tree recycling was a success, with about 3600 trees taken in.

The City of Pittsburgh Dept. of Mobility and Infrastructure will be holding an open house concerning the Bike+ Plan from 4-8 p.m. on February 26 at the Market House on 12th Street.

The deadline to apply for the city’s Civic Leadership Academy is March 1.

The free, 11-week course encourages more informed, effective and inspired community and civic leadership by giving city residents an opportunity to learn about their local government.

It is held twice per year and applications are open to anyone who lives in, or owns and operates a business, within the City of Pittsburgh limits.

The final news was of the Eleventh Annual Golden Luncheon from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on April 2 at the Rivers Casino. It is for all seniors, ages 50 and over. First preference for attendance will be given to residents of the district of state Rep. Jake Wheatley, Jr.

Call his office at 412-471-7760 to register. Free transportation will be provided for those needing rides.

The next Planning Forum meeting will be on March 10.

 

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