Biannual council meeting has safety, program updates
April 6, 2021
The biannual General Meeting of the South Side Community Council (SSCC) on March 29 covered a wide range of topics including public safety, updates from area elected officials and progress reports on the organization's programs. About three dozen people attended the meeting via Zoom.
SSCC President Barbara Rudiak opened the meeting explaining since becoming a Registered Community Organization the council holds at least two General Meetings a year. This meeting would be the first of 2021 and a second will be held in September for elections and to share organizational accomplishments.
Top of the agenda was a public safety report from Zone 3 police Sgt. Anthony Rosato. He began by reporting there were two recent shootings in the area.
According to the sergeant, the first shooting occurred outside of Controversy when a patron was kicked out of the bar. The patron then fired shots into the bar, striking a woman in the leg.
The woman was taken to the hospital in stable condition. The incident is still under investigation.
The second shooting occurred in a garage in the 1700 block of Wrights Way. Sgt. Rosato said two men got into a fight then both pulled guns out. One of the men shot is gun into the air causing the other to also shoot his into the air.
One man ran away, but the other was caught by police. The police were able to identify the men and have charged them accordingly.
Sgt. Rosato also cautioned there have been two robberies at ATM machines in South Side, by the same man. The police have pictures of the man and are working to identify him.
With Governor Wolf's order allowing bars to have 75% capacity and be allowed to stay open later and serve alcohol without food, the police saturation patrols will return to South Side. The detail will concentrate on East Carson Street between 10th and 20th streets with half the officers on foot and half mobile.
Councilman Bruce Kraus spoke about wanting to see businesses reopen, particularly in the food and beverage areas, but also stated it was a good time to set boundaries for behavior. It was noted the saturation patrols will be starting early, at 6 p.m., to be proactive rather than reactive if things get out of control.
"We want to be proactive and ahead of things and probably will have a very active summer," he added.
Another concern, Sgt. Rosato said, are the dirt bikes and quads causing unsafe conditions in the neighborhood. He noted chasing them poses a risk to bystanders and the riders, but that they "have been making progress."
In recent weeks, the police have caught two riders, cited them and had their vehicles towed.
"What we're finding out, is because they're not registered, they're having trouble getting them out of the tow pound. So that's kind of working in our favor," he said.
One of the ways the police are illegal riding is to follow the riders home in unmarked cars. If the riders are adults, they then can be charged or cited. If the riders are minors, the parents are made aware of the different ramifications of their child's actions.
Sgt. Rosato said it's helpful for people to report to the police the home addresses of the illegal riders noting, "if they are adults and they run from us, that's arrestable."
"If we know where they live, why chase them, just go to their house. See them there, arrest them there, take them to jail," he said. "That would probably have the biggest impact."
The sergeant added there have been two or three cycle units working in South Side. The cycle officers have been catching the people going through red lights and other traffic violations in the neighborhood.
Sgt. Rosato later said there has been an issue with ride share drivers stopping in the travel lanes and blocking traffic. Although the drivers have been warned and given citations, they still are stopping and blocking traffic. He asked if there was any way city council could reach out to the companies to instruct their drivers not to stop in the travel lanes.
Councilman Kraus replied his contact with the ride sharing companies is no longer there. He said in the places where the pedestrian sidewalk bump-outs have been completed is often where the drivers are stopping to discharge passengers.
Mr. Kraus said he suspects the enforcement of the safety lane from 12th to 17th streets has been lax during COVID, but a return to stricter enforcement is expected as more businesses open. Ride share drivers are encouraged to use the safety lane to load and unload passengers.
The councilman said he would reach out to the three ride sharing companies to stress the importance of using the safety lane. He noted the services reduce congestion and the number of DUIs.
Ms. Rudiak began the SSCC updates portion of the meeting reporting the city is considering making changes to the Residential Permit Parking Program and is asking for resident input. The survey and more information are available at https://engage.pittsburghpa.gov/rpp-program-updates
She also gave a brief update on the recent Development Activities Meetings (DAM) the SSCC has held. Developers are now required to go to the Registered Community Organization in a neighborhood if the project meets certain criteria before their hearing before city boards and commissions such as zoning, historic review and planning among others.
"We have been meeting monthly with developers and architects since July 2020. We meet on the fourth Thursday of the month, Ms. Rudiak said. Some of the projects reviewed from the SouthSide Works and Riverside Mews are headed to the Planning Commission while others are going before the Zoning Board. However, the majority of the projects have been on East Carson Street and will be going before the Historic Review Commission.
The SSCC has plans to send letters to the business and building owners in the East Carson Street Historic District to make sure they are aware of the district's requirements before making any changes to their facades.
Kathleen Petrillo reported on some of the beautification projects the SSCC is undertaking.
"Green N'at has a lot of projects this summer being that we had the pandemic last summer a lot of our projects got placed on hold," she said.
Among the beautification projects is one at Ormsby Park. An unused grassy area near the basketball courts will be transformed into a community garden. The area will be fenced and the kids in the summer program will be able to learn how to grow vegetables and cook with them.
Vegetables will also be donated to local food pantries. The project is in the beginning planning stages and is made possible through a Love Your Block Grant.
Other green spaces in South Side receiving attention will include: the 18th and E. Carson streets parking lot; 11th Street parklet; the 17th Ward Memorial at Armstrong Park; the 10th Street steps connecting the Slopes and Flats; Esser's Plaza; and, Ormsby Park.
The community council has also been working on a new website at http://www.southsidecommunitycouncil.org. The new website has an enhanced user experience and is able to be updated by members of the council. Anyone wishing to share images of South Side for the website may submit them to firstname.lastname@example.org.
In addition, the SSCC is asking for resident input through the 2221 South Side Community Council Engagement Survey. The brief survey explains the SSCC structure and asks for input on current programs and projects. The survey is available at https://forms.gle/aYFcB7WT9P4np4jy7