South Pittsburgh Reporter - Serving South Pittsburgh Since 1939

By Margaret L. Smykla
Contributing Writer 

Sunday meter enforcement is delayed in South Side

E. Carson construction is ahead of schedule

 

January 18, 2022

The E. Carson Street safety project is moving along and should be finished ahead of schedule, according to City of Pittsburgh District 3 Councilman Bruce Kraus. The councilman relayed the information at the January meeting of the South Side Planning Forum.

The January 11 meeting of the South Side Planning Forum began with the December report of the Parking Enhancement District (PED), or the enforcement of South Side Flats parking meters from 6 p.m. to midnight.

The PED is in effect on Thursdays, Fridays, and Saturdays. PED funds must be invested back in the neighborhood for public safety, cleanliness, and infrastructure improvements.

In the report, delivered by nighttime economy coordinator Rachel Webber for Allison Harnden, December revenue totaled $13,137.17. December enforcement costs were $1,627.

The PED trust fund totals $143,724.36.

The total revenue since the PED began in April, 2017, is 832,621.76.

In a pre-pandemic/pandemic comparison, the 2019 gross revenue was $192,820.39; for 2020, it totaled $92,126.92; and for 2021 the gross revenue was $153,823.90.

A South Side alcohol license change is a return from safekeeping of its alcohol license for Dunbar's Place, 1109 E. Carson St. Safekeeping is required by the LCB if the license will not be used for a period of time.

Last month, a fire broke out in the same building as Dunbar's Place.

In her report of the Clean Team, or Block by Block which maintains the E. Carson St. corridor and is funded by PED, Ms. Webber said most of the fall leaf collection was completed. The efforts on the fall leaves was a Clean Team focus for December.

Curb lines will be the January focus. The Clean Team will also address graffiti this month as weather permits.

Ms. Webber also reported trash collection for December totaled 8,025 pounds. 

In his PED update, city Councilman Bruce Kraus said the plan is to add Sunday meter enforcement beginning Feb. 27, but with a grace period.

For the first month of Sundays, an Oops Card will be placed on the windshield as a break to violators. But after the 30 days, or in late March, fines will be issued.

The delay in starting on Sundays is that a new position needs to be created by the union for Sunday enforcement.

Barbara Rudiak, president of the South Side Community Council (SSCC), said the Sunday PED will have an impact on the residential area as motorists will park on those streets. She previously suggested a change to residential permit parking (RPP) in the South Side.

She said residents often have guests over on Sundays because they do not need visitor passes but, starting in March, they could be ticketed.

Mr. Kraus said enforcement will include residential areas. Sunday enforcement is being looked at as a pilot program as the city never collected parking meter money on Sundays before, he said.

He said major revisions to the RPP have occurred recently, and he does not see anything detrimental to residents in the RPP areas.

He expects a successful Sunday PED to bring in an additional $4,000 per month, which could help fund a third person on the Clean Team, holiday decorations on East Carson St., and more.

He said the city would be "ever mindful" that the Sunday PED does not negatively impact residents.

Regarding the old 18th and Mary streets police station, Mr. Kraus said work is moving on, but there are some delays due to supply chain disruptions. The Clean Team will be housed there with a break room and to keep warm in cold weather.

There is no opening date yet, he said.

Updating the PennDOT safety improvement project, Mr. Kraus said traffic poles are currently being installed. The remainder of the poles and traffic signal heads to be hung through spring.

Duquesne Light began its work in December.

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.

Project wrap-up could occur sooner than expected, he said.

There is some concern, however, about the East Carson St. islands. The 21st St. island blocks the intersection that drivers cannot cross at this time. Mr. Kraus said he would like to see something more visible.

He is concerned that everyone sees and understands that the intersection is closed and cannot be crossed.

Ms. Rudiak said while the barrier at 23rd St. may be more visible, there is concern about what happens when it snows and the barrier cannot be seen. Mr. Kraus said "visibility" is important as are all weather conditions.

"We're paying attention to it," he said.

He also reported the 18th street signals upgrade project for pedestrian safety is going out to bid. The supply chain is also concern on the project, but materials are being purchased in advance.

He expects construction to begin in the fall, and said it would not be as "invasive" as the East Carson St. project.

Mr. Kraus also reported new Mayor Ed Gainey is not keeping Wendell Hissrich as public safety director. Lee Schmidt, in the Public Safety Dept., will serve as acting public safety director.

He will be meeting with Mr. Schmidt to discuss public safety in District 3, including St. Patrick's Day. Mr. Schmidt has been through a few St. Patrick's Day celebrations, so the experience is there, Mr. Kraus said.

Next, in the SSCC report of the Development Activities Meeting (DAM), Ms. Rudiak said a DAM was not held by the SSCC in November or December. However, five presentations are expected at its Jan. 20 meeting.

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.

Four of the proposed projects will go before the Historic Review Commission (HRC) after their presentations at the SSCC. Those projects are for 2204, 2655, 1931, and 1210 East Carson St.

The proposal for 2655 East Carson St. will go before the Zoning Board of Adjustment (ZBA) following the presentation.

Besides 75,000-square-feet office space, plans for the former SouthSide Works Cinema include the addition of duck pin bowling, bocce ball, ping pong, pinball, and more. There will be alcohol with the bowling. Pins Mechanical Co. will present.

In her report of the DAM at the South Side Slopes Neighborhood Association (SSSNA), Cara Jette said a DAM in December was for an ADA trail in South Side Park.

Next, Planning Forum chair Tom Smith said the Neighborhood Plan committee met last week. He also said Ms. Rudiak is putting together an executive summary on how to fashion a neighborhood plan in accordance with the city's guidelines and requirements.

In member reports, Ms. Jette said the SSSNA has been busy, with a lights contest and holiday party last month. Calendars can still be purchased as a fundraiser for the group.

She also reported new board members are sought. If interested, see the group's website.

In the SSCC report, Ms. Rudiak said a board meeting was held the previous day. South Watch, an initiative of the SSCC and SSSNA to address community issues and work toward solutions, was scheduled to meet the next day.

A celebration was held Dec. 17 around the Christmas tree at Esser Plaza. There was an appearance by Santa Claus, and hand-crafted ornaments by children, caroling, a disc jockey, chocolates, and more.

The event was hosted by the SSCC and Wells Fargo Advisors.

Candice Gonzalez, executive director of the South Side Chamber of Commerce, reported its board would meet on Jan. 19 to develop the calendar of events this year with mindfulness of what can be planned in light of the pandemic.

The Chamber is supporting Community Options' Cupid's Chase 5K fundraiser on Feb. 12 at 10 a.m. at PNC Park. Community Options' mission is to develop housing and employment supports for persons with disabilities.

In her update, state Rep. Jessica Benham, 36th District said she introduced a bill that expands tuition waivers for state universities for youngsters in "kinship care."

The latter refers to family members taking care of the children of relatives who are unable to do so themselves for various reasons.

She is also working on a liquor license saturation bill. She said she is encouraged by conversations on the issue which are occurring. 

Rep. Benham is also coordinating a meeting regarding speakeasies, which began popping up during the pandemic and are creating problems in the district.

Due to COVID, she will not be holding large events this time of year as they would require indoor venues. The next event will be a senior fair from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. on April 6 in the Brentwood Civic Center parking lot.

The second annual Battle of the Block Watches will be held on April 23. Teams compete in neighborhood cleanup efforts.

Rep. Benham ended her report by introducing her new chief of staff, Dan Gladis, who can be contacted for assistance.

The next Planning Forum Zoom meeting will be on February 8.

 

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