South Pittsburgh Reporter - Serving South Pittsburgh Since 1939

By Margaret L. Smykla
Contributing Writer 

Outpatient center recruiting staff to expand services

UPMC responds to concerns from South Siders


Last updated 10/28/2021 at 9:11am

The Oct. 12 meeting of the South Side Planning Forum featured UPMC updates in the area from its vice president of operations, Julie Hecker.

She began with an overview of the parking lots and trees. She said trees were pruned in lots used by UPMC.

Mike Clark, of the South Side Community Council (SSCC), said trees have been trimmed, and he is hoping for more trees, especially at the Sarah St. lot. He said beautification is needed at the edges.

He also said the Roesch-Taylor building has only one tree on Jane at Mary streets. He called for planting street trees.

Ms. Hecker said she would talk to the grounds crew.

A resident said the corner of Mary and 20th streets has a great-looking planter, making for a marked improvement at the site.

As to the walk-in clinic, Ms. Hecker said the major issue is that a primary physician is on extended medical leave. Once staffing returns, an urgent care and primary care office is a possibility.

There are x-ray services at the clinic on certain days only as the patient volume is not there, she said. Currently, the sports complex has x-ray services.

She also reported 23rd and Jane signage is being worked on.

Regarding the old hospital building, she said its future has not been determined.

“As soon as we know, you’ll know,” she said. The building is being used currently for vaccines and testing.

Regarding zoning, Mr. Clark said if UPMC wants to sell a parcel it could allow for a strip joint, factory, or other enterprise under the current zoning that neighbors would be opposed to.

He would like to have a meeting on this, he said.

An attendee said he found it “disheartening” that when he called the outpatient center last week, he was told the doctor there was not taking new patients. His longtime doctor is no longer there.

Ms. Hecker said the primary physician is on extended medical leave. The hope is to eventually expand hours at the center.

She said she would look into getting the resident the care he needs.

She concluded her presentation by stating she and UPMC associate Margaret Bell would meet with Mr. Clark on trees and zoning.

Next, nighttime economy coordinator Allison Harnden delivered the Parking Enhancement District (PED) report for September.

The PED is the enforcement of South Side Flats parking meters from 6 p.m. to midnight on Thursdays, Fridays, and Saturdays. The expansion of PED hours to include Thursdays began this summer.

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

In the report, Ms. Harnden said September revenue totaled $16,626.36. The 2021 revenue to date is $113,896.99. The PED trust fund totals $184,186.50.

The total revenue since the PED began in April, 2017, is $792,695.66.

In her report of the Clean Team, or Block by Block which maintains the E. Carson St. corridor, Ms. Harnden said trash collection for September totaled 11,101 pounds. Seventy-five alcohol containers, such as bottles, fifths and pints, were also collected.

The Clean Team removes trash and graffiti/stickers, lends hospitality assistance, and more.

Enforcement costs for September totaled only $308. Ms. Harden said it was due to the Parking Authority being unable to get police escorts on some weekends.

As Parking Authority agents are frequently accosted, police officers now accompany them.

Expenditures last month included renting portable toilets for about $3,000 for the Sept. 18 St. Patrick’s Day parade.

Ms. Harnden also reported nightlife has gotten busier since the reopening earlier this year following COVID closures. However, there were only eight complaints made to 311 in September.

She said residents should continue to call 311 for complaints to establish a record.

Regarding the Clean Team, Mr. Kraus said collecting 11,100 pounds of trash in one month in the East Carson St. corridor merits addressing the issue of the productive use and reuse of containers.

He also called it “shocking” that only eight calls were made to 311. He said much of what municipal government does is data-driven, so everryone should be sure to call 311 to register a complaint.

Residents can also call and register a 311 call if they called 911 over the weekend as Public Safety officials look at all 311 calls.

He also called it a “sub-culture” on the area streets that so many bottles of alcohol are being collected.

Mr. Kraus said the Clean Team workers often start before 6 a.m. on Saturdays, Sundays, and Mondays, and receive great compliments. In recognition of their work and dedication, the Clean Team was honored with a proclamation from the city for their service to the South Side business district and neighborhood.

The PED cost per month for the Clean Team is about $16,500, which he called a “good union job” for two-and-a-half workers with benefits.

He said he and Ms. Harnden are talking about increasing the 2.5 workers to 3 workers. The third full-time worker would start in the spring, and focus on the side streets. 

The additional cost would be covered by the $4,000 generated monthly with the addition of Thursdays to the PED.

Mr. Kraus also reported the purchase of a gas-powered Gator utility vehicle used by the Clean Team throughout the streets. The purchase was from grant funds, and not the PED trust fund.

Ms. Harnden repeated the importance of calling 311, especially for quality-of-life issues as they go to multiple departments.

“That data is so crucial,” she said.

In an update, Mr. Kraus said the PennDOT safety improvement project should be completed next year.

The project extends from the Smithfield St. Bridge to 33rd St., and includes milling and resurfacing; signage and signal updates; sidewalk improvements; ADA ramp and guiderail installations; high visibility crosswalks; and more.

He also reported the 18th St. signals upgrade project for pedestrian safety should begin in spring, 2022. The upgrades include gloss black signal poles, audible countdown pedestrian signals, and more.

Next, in Old Business, Barbara Rudiak, president of the SSCC, reported a Development Activities Meeting (DAM) was not held in September. The next DAM meeting of the SSCC was on Oct. 21.

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.

All of the SSCC’s DAMs are recorded, and can be viewed on SSCC’s YouTube page.

In the report of the DAMs of the South Side Slopes Neighborhood Association (SSSNA), president Blake McLaren said a DAM was held on Sept. 23 to review a proposed 80-unit development at 32 and 44 Pius St.

The project will go before the ZBA on Nov. 4.

A DAM will next be held on Oct. 27 at 6:30 p.m. on a new, three-story, single-family dwelling on St. Patrick St. A variance is sought as it exceeds 50 percent threshold in the hillside district.

Mr. McLaren also reported more than 380 tickets were sold for StepTrek on Oct. 2. The SSSNA received more than $13,500 in sponsorships.

The annual non-competitive, self-guided walking tour of the Slopes is the organization’s biggest fundraiser. 

He concluded his report by introducing SSSNA treasurer Cara Jette as the organization’s new Planning Forum representative.

The next Planning Forum Zoom meeting is on Nov. 9.


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