South Pittsburgh Reporter - Serving South Pittsburgh Since 1939

By Margaret L. Smykla
Contributing Writer 

PED collections are down, but keep up with E. Carson costs

 

October 20, 2020



Updates on the South Side Parking Enhancement District (PED), the PennDOT construction project, and local development activities meetings (DAM) were the prime topics of the Oct. 13 monthly meeting of the South Side Planning Forum.

The meeting was held as a Zoom video conference. City Councilman Bruce Kraus was among the participants.

The meeting began with the city’s nighttime economy coordinator, Allison Harnden, delivering her monthly update on the PED, which has taken a financial hit with COVID-19 closures, although it is steadily improving.

The PED is the enforcement of South Side Flats parking meters from 6 p.m. to midnight on Fridays and Saturdays.  It began in 2017. 

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

Before the pandemic, PED income averaged $4,000 per weekend, or about $15,000 per month.   For the month of September, the weekend average was $2,200 to $2,400.

The August cost for Block by Block, or the Clean Team, which maintains the E. Carson St. corridor, was $12,148.32.  The larger amount represents a union wage increase which was retroactive for April to July.

As that Clean Team cost was not yet paid from the PED trust fund, the fund balance is the same as last month: $248,351.

Mr. Kraus said although the money coming in is less than it was before COVID-19, it is (almost) enough to pay for the Clean Team, and so the dip into the fund balance is minimal.

In September, the Clean Team, composed of two workers, or ambassadors, removed 10,516 pounds of trash.   As that is a decrease in the typical trash figures, the Clean Team was able to focus on weed abatement.

They also removed 24 graffiti/stickers, and lent hospitality assistance 31 times.

Mr. Kraus reported a wall in the 1700 block of E. Carson is getting tagged, and he is concerned about it as he is not sure if the Clean Team should clean it or whether to approach the owners.

South Side Community Council (SSCC) President Barbara Rudiak expressed a neighbor’s concern that a liquor license is being held on South 14th St. between Carson and Sarah streets.

The neighbor is worried that it will become a bar due to the license being held.

Mr. Kraus said he was assured by an official that will not happen. But he and Ms. Rudiak will plan to have a conversation with the official about the matter.

Regarding the approaching holiday season, Mr. Kraus said he would like to have banners again on East Carson St.  He would like to ask a design firm for a quick sample of last year’s banners in red and green colors.

If it is received favorably, he will get it reprinted.

Next, Brosha Tkacheva, Chief of Staff of the Office of Mr. Kraus, delivered an update on the PennDOT safety improvement construction project.

Project upgrades include: milling and resurfacing; signage and signal updates; ADA ramp and guiderail installations; high visibility crosswalks; and more.

Five months are completed of the 18-month project, which will extend from the Smithfield St. Bridge to 33rd St.

Current work through late November includes a lane closure to remain on East Carson St. between Arlington Ave. and 7th St.  around-the-clock for sidewalk improvements.

During these restrictions, parking will not be permitted on East Carson St. between 1st St. and 7th St.    Between Arlington Ave. and 7th St., the eastbound curb lane is closed, requiring eastbound traffic to travel using the center lane.

Also, through late November, single-lane restrictions continue on East Carson St. between 3rd and 9th streets between Arlington Ave. and Terminal Way.

Traffic is being maintained in each direction. Periodically, parking spaces may temporarily be blocked to allow work to occur.

Parking and sidewalk restrictions remain on East Carson St. between 5th and 22nd streets, and will continue around-the-clock while crews install ADA ramps, curbs, sidewalks, drainage structures and pedestrian crosswalk pole foundations, along with associated electrical work.

Tentatively, during the week of October 26 a traffic switch is expected to take place between Arlington Ave. and 7th Street.  The eastbound curb lane will open, while the westbound curb lane will close. Westbound traffic will travel using the center lane.

The overall completion date for the project is spring of 2022.

Next, Ms. Rudiak updated participants on the Sept. 24 DAM of the SSCC.

The four projects were: 2016 East Carson St., 1713-1715 East Carson St., 2529 East Carson St., and SouthSide Works Tunnel Park dog park.

A DAM provides an opportunity for citizens, property owners, business owners, and stakeholders to learn about the proposals that affect them and to resolve concerns at an early stage of the application process.

Residents have 30 days after Sept. 24 to comment.

Ms. Rudiak also reported the Planning Commission approved the plan to convert the SouthSide Works Cinema, 425 Cinema Dr., into 75,000-square-feet office space called the SouthSide Works Box Office.

The project was presented to the SSCC at the Aug. 20 DAM.

Regarding the dog park in South Side Riverfront Park, Mr. Kraus said he met with the Dept. of Public Works that day and that renovations will take place. About $78,000 is budgeted for the dog park.

“There’s a commitment in the capital budget to move ahead,” he said.

Ms. Rudiak said the next DAM at the SSCC will be on Oct. 22.

There will be a presentation on a proposal for micro townhouses on the empty lot across form Armstrong Park.

Micro townhouses are small townhouses.   The proposal will next go before the Zoning Board of Adjustment.

The other presentations are both for the SouthSide Works:  the dog park and the town center.   The latter, which was presented at the SSCC’s July 2 DAM by SouthSide Works’ new owner Somera Road, has some changes which will be detailed.

In reports, Blake McLaren of the South Side Slopes Neighborhood Association (SSSNA) said the first DAM of the SSSNA will be at 7 p.m. on Oct. 21. The presentation by Sara Thompson of Pashek + MTR will be on South Side Park Phase 1 improvements.

He also reported StepTrek, the annual non-competitive, self-guided walking tour of the Slopes, was a big success. It was held week-long for the first time, from Oct. 1 to 7, due to social distancing.

While financial figures were not yet available, he said the average person paid about $17.

The SSSNA’s next general meeting will be a Zoom video conference at 6:30 p.m. on Oct. 20.

Ms. Rudiak next reported on the SSCC general meeting held on Sept. 28.  In addition to board elections, there was an overview of the changes planned for SouthSide Works.

The speaker was Jonathon Reeser, vice president – acquisitions, Somera Road, the new owner of SouthSide Works. 

Ms. Rudiak also reported the UPMC sign at 20th and Jane streets appears to be tagged a lot, but it is quickly cleaned up.

In other news, Chay Chaney, of the office of state Rep. Jake Wheatley, said to contact the office for unemployment or other issues. For ballot questions, residents are directed to the county’s Board of Elections.

For a letter of support or other inquiries, contact the office or email Chay Chaney at cchaney@pahouse.net.

Ms. Chaney said the office is pushing for residents to complete their U.S. Census forms.

Gisele Betances, the new liaison with the Mayor’s Office, said to reach out to her with any concerns.

The next Planning Forum meeting will be on Nov. 10. The presenter will be policy analyst Tosh Chambers of the Department of Mobility and Infrastructure. He is working on MOVE412/Mobility Hub, a multi-modal transportation strategy.

 

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