South Pittsburgh Reporter - Serving South Pittsburgh Since 1939

By Margaret L. Smykla
Contributing Writer 

Community updated at South Side Planning Forum meeting


Last updated 3/17/2020 at 2:05pm

A city update by Councilman Bruce Kraus and city nighttime economy coordinator Allison Harnden kicked off the March 10 meeting of the South Side Planning Forum.

Block by Block, or the Clean Team retained to keep the E. Carson St. corridor maintained, is back to having two workers, or ambassadors.

Earlier this year, funds were saved by reducing weekly service hours for the Clean Team in January and February.

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

There will now be full coverage seven days a week.

Funding is from the PED, which is the South Side Parking Enhancement District, or 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.

About $120,000 is spent annually on the Clean Team.

For the March 14 St. Patrick’s Day celebration, the Clean Team and the Dept. of Public Works was expected out for cleanup.

Mr. Kraus said last year, all of the comments on the cleanup were complimentary.

He also said a decision on new banners on poles needs to be made.

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.

At prior meetings, 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.

On another topic, Mr. Kraus said Mayor Peduto wants to open a temporary police substation in the SouthSide Works.

Police Sgt. Matt Turko attended the Sociable City Summit in Seattle recently. Officers on bicycles in the South Side will be discussed further here as it allows officers the ability to get places with ease, Mr. Kraus said.

He also reported the East Carson St. safety improvement project, that extends from the Smithfield St. Bridge to 33rd St., and be carried out by the state Dept. of Transportation [PennDOT], was scheduled to begin in early April.

It will include resurfacing, upgrading intersections, ADA ramps and more.

Mr. Kraus said it would begin close to Station Square, and toward the end of the project lights and traffic signals will be installed.

He asked everyone for their patience.

He also reported there were complaints around signage. Police officers do not want anyone towed, he said. He plans to approach the Dept. of Public Works about one consistent signage.

Next, in news of the Development Review Committee (DRC), Matt Brungo, of the South Side Community Council (SSCC), said a meeting was held with the SSCC, South Side Slopes Neighborhood Association (SSSNA), and the DRC.

The decision was that the SSCC and the SSSNA would form a joint committee so that the DRC will continue as it has through the Registered Community Organization (RCO) process.

Barbara Rudiak, of the SSCC, said the SSSNA has applied to be an RCO. The SSCC is already an RCO.

The new RCO 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, and more.

The DRC, comprised of design professionals, has long been a committee of the South Side Planning Forum.

But the Planning Forum is losing its effectiveness as a community-wide organization as member groups become RCOs.

Developers will appear before the SSCC and the SSSNA.

Mr. Brungo said planning is ongoing to ensure that reviews are done in a consistent manner.

“There are still growing pains,” he said, but adding that everything is positive.

Ms. Rudiak said a specific process must also be developed that includes the community.

Mr. Kraus said all neighborhoods are struggling now with the “unintended impact of RCOs.”

He is concerned about privatizing parking, and said he expects a significant change in the future on how the city approaches developments and their attached parking.

In news of the South Side Neighborhood Plan Committee, Planning Forum Interim Chair Tom Smith said he would like clarity from member groups on how they see the Planning Forum moving forward.

In past meetings, he mentioned the possibility of transitioning into group coordination: instead of a “planning forum,” it will be more of a “neighborhood forum,” in light of RCOs as community groups become empowered and do want other organizations making decisions for them.

The next meeting is at 5 p.m. on March 19 in the Brashear Center.

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

The South Side Spring Social has been canceled for this year due to concerns over the COVID-19 pandemic.

Candice Gonzalez, of the South Side Chamber of Commerce, reported the annual South Side Soup Contest, co-sponsored by the Brashear Association and the Chamber, was a big success.

There were 1,200 general admission tickets, and 90 VIPS tickets, purchased. Twenty-six South Side restaurants served as hosts.

The winners were Best Soup, Bonfire Food & Drink’s mushroom bisque; Runner Up, Carmella’s Plates & Pints’ broccoli and smoked cheddar; Best Vegetarian Soup, Stagioni’s sweet potato and butternut squash with spiced pumpkin seed brittle and cardamon honey; and Most Unique Soup, Café du Jour’s liver let thigh.

The Best Host was Victory Pointe Arcade and Gaming Café.

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

The next Planning Forum meeting is scheduled for April 14.


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