South Pittsburgh Reporter - Serving South Pittsburgh Since 1939

By Margaret L. Smykla
Contributing Writer 

Carrick council hears election results, about city snow removal

 

February 2, 2021



This year's first quarterly meeting of the Carrick Community Council (CCC) featured board election results; update on the 25 Carrick Ave Project; recent changes to the snow removal process; and the upcoming vacancy on the school board.

The January 21 Zoom meeting began with President Donna McManus announcing the November election results.

Amy Byard, newly elected, will take on the role of chair of Commercial Development. Also newly elected is Imma Raffaele.

Reelected was Gordon Sullivan.

Ron Jardini, reelected, is returning to the role of chair, Residential Development.

Carol Williams, reelected, is taking on the role of chair, Capacity Committee.

Donna McManus, reelected, will continue as president of the board of directors.

Laura Doyle, reelected, is returning as board secretary, and taking on the role of chair of the Beautification Committee. 

Chris Small, reelected, is returning to the role of treasurer of the board.

Sherry Miller Brown was also elected to the executive board.

The next speaker was Pete Spynda, executive director of the 25 Carrick Ave project.

25 Carrick Ave is a non-profit collaborative project spun off in 2019 from Hearcorp, a state-of-the-art event production company providing technical support to many of the cultural institutions and performing arts centers in Western Pa.

Its mission is to provide at-risk youth with career opportunities in the event production and broadcast industry though classes, workshops, and hands-on mentoring.

Interested students will learn fundamental vocational skills from industry professionals at 25 Carrick Ave.

An upcoming goal is to launch an after-school program for up to 10 youths beginning in March. Then, the plan is to employ two to three of those youths for the summer.

The program will launch virtually, and use program modules as a framework. Students will have the opportunity to borrow equipment.

More information will follow. It will be posted at 25carrickave.com on the Afterschool page under Education.

Additionally, Tech@25 workshops are open to the public. One can register on the home page of 25carrickave.com, or on the tech@25 page on the website.

The workshops are free and open to anyone anywhere. Their goal is to assist educators and performers adjusting to online platforms.

Mr. Spynda said many event techs (especially in broadcast television) are older white males nearing the age of retirement.

It is the program's goal to help diversify this field by providing vocational training, and by working to find job placement in the live event field with the hopes of helping youth find a career path in this field.

The alignment with Hearcorp has provided an inroad for job placement and their connections to many of the regions' performing arts centers provides additional opportunities for job placement.

The programming can be viewed at http://25carrickave.com.

Mr. Spynda said he is confident that Hearcorp and 25 Carrick Ave Project can create a pipeline to CBS sports and Turner Broadcasting. 

Next, Mark Firewicz reported he is seeking a general city permit for an eight-car detached garage in one structure at 0 Amanda St. He primarily rents the garages out to classic cars.

City Councilman Anthony Coghill next talked about all of the complaints regarding snow removal at Christmastime and the week preceding it.

 He said the problems can be traced to: the tracking system on vehicles; lack of salt; and six vehicles being broken down.

Regarding the lack of salt, he said the 400 pounds is being increased to 600 pounds.

"The last place I want to save money on is salt," he said.

A problem on Christmas Day was that drivers did not want to come out on a holiday even though they make triple pay. Since then, mandatory overtime has been instituted, he said.

The mandatory overtime is in reverse seniority order. 

Guidelines will be followed regarding hours in mandatory overtime. Twelve hours are recommended by drivers, and not 16 hours.

Another issue with snow removal is that with the Dept. of Public Works' (DPW) 4th Division shut down, trucks from the West End and Strip District are losing time to get to this area.

Councilman Coghill said the mayor is committed to a new 4th Division, which should be up and running for next winter.

The project is estimated at $2.5 to $3 million.

DPW shut down the former Division 4 facility five years ago when it became uninhabitable as the building was toxic and unhealthy, and no longer viable.

The new campus was supposed to open this winter. However, it hit snag 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 purchased the property.

A public meeting on the new facility will be held on either Feb. 9, 10, or 11, depending on project officials' availability.

Councilman Coghill called the absence of a Division 4 site "the big underlying problem." He also said there would be better service once the 4th Division returns.

A Division 4 truck driver said the primary problem with the new salt distribution system is it does not put enough salt out if the vehicle is moving slowly, which is required on the narrow, hilly South Pittsburgh neighborhoods.

He said the mileage-per-hour needs to change.

Another issue is morale as there are not enough drivers.

"I love my city, but we are not given the tools we need," he said.

Kinsey Casey, the city's chief operating officer, said the city is adjusting the trucks to drop more salt.

Next, Cindy Falls, the district representative for the city schools, said she is retiring from the school board after eight years.

The retired Carrick High School teacher is looking for interested candidates to fill her seat.

"I really want to pass the baton on like Jean Fink passed on to me," she said.

"You have to have the passion. You have to love kids and education," she said.

To be endorsed by the Democratic Committee, candidates had to file by 4 p.m. on Jan. 25.

"I will be a good mentor for someone," she said.

The final speaker was Gisele Betances, the new liaison to Carrick from the Mayor's Office, who reported on the Snow Angels program.

The city is in need of volunteers for the program, in which snow shovelers help elderly residents and others with disabilities. The volunteers are matched with neighbors within a 10-minute walk.

Locally, there are 10 Snow Angels, but 52 neighbors who are in need of their services.

Angels must be age 18 and older, but families can volunteer with their younger children.

Incentives for volunteers are being offered, like raffles for lunch with Mayor Peduto. Volunteers may also win a "Golden Shovel Award."

For more information, visit: pittsburghpa.gov/snowangels, contact the Snow Angels Program at snowangels@pittsburghpa.gov or call 412-255-0846.

 

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