Since 1939, Serving The South Pittsburgh Neighborhoods of • Allentown • Arlington • Beltzhoover • Bon Air • Carrick • Knoxville • Mount Oliver • Mount Washington • South Side Vol. 81 No. 37
Inside This Week’s South • Pittsburgh
Pennsylvania Treasury’s unclaimed property website is back online after a temporary shutdown to implement major system upgrades. The updated website features new tools to make it easier for Pennsylvanians to claim their unclaimed property. See Page 2
The City of Pittsburgh and its partner Neighborhood Allies have been awarded a technical assistance grant by Cities for Financial Empowerment Fund to expand services provided by the Pittsburgh Financial Empowerment Center. See Page 2
From June 24–August 19, young learners can virtually engage with live science experiments and exciting demonstrations by tuning in to Science on the Road Goes Camp-tastic, a weekly livestream of Carnegie Science Center’s most popular science assemblies. @ sopghreporter.com
This year ’s summer reading challenge is simple – read five books between June 13 and August 31. @ sopghreporter.com
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Tuesday, June 15, 2021
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Carson Street in ‘disarray’ as patrons, litter return Adding Clean Team members, using light towers seen as part of solution
“Big Z”-GEORGE ZUBASIC
By Margaret L. Smykla Contributing Writer A third member may be added to the two-person Clean Team for the summer months, reported city Councilman Bruce Kraus at the June 8 Zoom meeting of the South Side Planning Forum. “The street is in disarray,” he said of E. Carson St., citing debris, ongoing construction, and the growing influx of customers in light of the loosening of pandemic restrictions. Seventy-seven new trees are also in a state of disrepair, he said. Last month showed trash levels approaching pre-COVID levels for the first time, he said. Block by Block, or the Clean Team, is paid by funds from Parking Enhancement District (PED) revenue. The PED is the enforcement of South Side Flats parking meters from 6 p.m. to midnight on Fridays and Saturdays. The funds must be invested back in the neighborhood for public safety, cleanliness, and infrastructure improvements. The Clean Team removes trash and graffiti/stickers, lends hospitality assistance, and more. Currently, there are two workers on Thursday, Friday, and Saturday, and one worker on the other days. Mr. Kraus would like two workers on the street at all times, especially as Monday is as bad a day as Saturday or Sunday, he said. In April the cost for the
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Clean Team was $12,372. The price would be an additional $17,000 for a full-time worker for three months. In the PED report for May, Mr. Kraus said revenue totaled $11,876. The 2021 revenue to date is $47,925.32. The total revenue since the PED began in April, 2017, is $726,569.68. The PED trust fund totals $243,983. May enforcement costs were $1,235. The Clean Team removed 10,082 pounds of trash and 16 graffiti/stickers on 11 blocks. There were no South Side alcohol license changes. Besides adding a third member to the Clean Team, another issue up for discussion involves the Gator cleaning machine used by the Clean Team throughout the streets. Mr. Kraus reported the machine is down, and that the one currently being used is on loan from the Downtown Partnership. Options include leasing a machine, buying the used machine, or buying a new one. The price of a new one would be $25,000. Funding for both the machine and a third worker would be from the PED trust fund. Mr. Kraus said he would discuss both issues with city nighttime economy coordinator Allison Harnden. When he asked forum members’ thoughts on adding a third Clean Team member, Rev. Kathy Hamilton-
Vargo, pastor of South Side Presbyterian Church, said she thought it was a great idea. South Side Community Council (SSCC) president Barbara Rudiak agreed, and said she would talk to the SSCC board about it and the Gator machine. “We want it to look the way it has in the past,” she said of maintaining the neighborhood by adding a third Clean Team member. She added that residents complain if the area is trashy. Businesses should also be cleaning their sidewalks in the morning, she said. South Side Chamber of Commerce executive director Candice Gonzalez said she would inform the Chamber board of the Gator and third person Clean Team discussion. She will also work Light towers are being used at 15th and 17th street on E. on a letter telling business- Carson Street to help calm the street on weekends when Continued on Page 4 people are crowding the street in the early morning hours.
Designers present plans for building and playground at 24th and E. Carson By Tom Smith South Pittsburgh Reporter Editor
Representatives from PW Campbell representing WAG4LP presented plans for two properties at the South Side Community Council’s May Development Activities Meeting (DAM) via Zoom. The properties are a building at 2400 E. Carson Street and a vacant lot across Carey Way at 94 S. 24th Street. Plans call for renovating the building to be used for
a community daycare center and therapy program for children ages 5 and under that experience some behavioral and emotional disruptions. The 4,000 sq. ft. vacant lot will include a playground and parking for the center. The facility will operate from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday through Friday, and will have 30 staff and accommodate 50 children. The space on the first floor of 2400 E. Carson Street is
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“currently wide open” on the first floor and will be divided into classrooms and office space. The building will get ADA updates along with new mechanical, plumbing and electrical systems. The second floor will consist of office space and therapy rooms. The third floor will include additional offices and restroom facilities. The PW Campbell representatives said the building isn’t registered as a historic Continued on Page 3
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TUESDAY, JUNE 15, 2021
PA has new unclaimed property site Treasurer Stacy Garrity announced the Pennsylvania Treasury’s unclaimed property website is back online after a temporary shutdown to implement major system upgrades. The updated website features new tools to make it easier for Pennsylvanians to claim their unclaimed property. This system upgrade — the first in more than 15 years — improves efficiency for people trying to find their unclaimed property and for the holders – including banks and other businesses – who must report unclaimed property to Treasury. “One of my top priorities is returning the nearly $4 billion we have in unclaimed property to its rightful owners,” Garrity said. “These upgrades significantly improve the process by making the system as user-friendly as possible and by getting rid of unnecessary red tape. I encourage every Pennsylvanian to take advantage of
these changes and search for unclaimed property that may be owed to them or their family.” The upgrades unveiled today include: • Online submission of required forms for most types of claims. • Online authentication of some claims, allowing for real-time approval. • Shorter processing times for many claims. • Improved search capabilities. • An improved checkout system. • Updated security features and fraud protections. Holder reporting improvements also unveiled will help identify errors before reports are submitted, streamlining the process for the institutions and companies that report unclaimed property to Treasury. The upgrades also lay the groundwork for future improvements, including a direct deposit option for pay-
Mt. Oliver Housing Court cases for Tues., June 22
The following Mt. Oliver Borough Housing Court cases are scheduled for Tuesday, June 22, at 10:30 a .m. in Municipal District Judge Richard King’s Courtroom: • Peter Winovich, 417 Carl Street, Mt. Oliver Borough, Code 302.1, Exterior Sanitation. • Michael Vojtash, 106 Church Avenue, Mt. Oliver Borough, Code 302.1, Exterior Sanitation. • Mehrouz Emamzadeh, 222 Amanda Avenue, Mt. Oliver Borough, Code 302.1, Exterior Sanitation. • Kelly Scatena, 323 Quincy Avenue, Mt. Oliver Borough, Code 302.1, Exterior Sanitation. All Mt. Oliver Housing Court cases are open to the public. Judge King’s office is located at 2213 Brownsville Road, Carrick.
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City Financial Empowerment Center ment. Treasury currently holds wins grant for eviction prevention nearly $4 billion in un-
claimed property. One in ten Pennsylvanians is owed unclaimed property, and the average claim is worth $2,000. To see if you have property waiting to be claimed with Treasury, and to start the claims process, visit patreasury.gov/unclaimed-property. Individuals can take some simple steps to prevent their property from ending up at Treasury: • Keeping financial institutions informed of any address changes. • Communicating with financial institutions at least once every three years. • Keeping up-to-date records of financial information including bank accounts, stocks, life insurance policies, safe deposit boxes, etc. • Letting a family member or trusted advisor know where financial records are kept. • Depositing or cashing all checks as they are received.
The City of Pittsburgh and its partner Neighborhood Allies have been awarded a technical assistance grant by Cities for Financial Empowerment Fund to expand services provided by the Pittsburgh Financial Empowerment Center. The CFE Fund is seeking to leverage the existing FEC infrastructure to launch a new pilot, Eviction Prevention Boost, that integrates financial counseling within municipally-led rental assistance and eviction prevention efforts in response to COVID-19. The first step in launching such a pilot is working closely with FEC partners, and their local rental assistance and eviction prevention programs, to design how this integration might work across a range of local contexts. The CFE Fund is providing technical assistance to support Pittsburgh efforts to establish the pilot program.
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“We are pleased to be working in coordination with the City of Pittsburgh, Allegheny County Department of Human Services, and other local partners to provide additional resources for housing stabilization through the Emergency Rental Assistance Program. With this integration, households receiving rental assistance will have access to ongoing, one-on-one support from a trained and certified financial professional, that will lead to measurable outcomes in financial health.” Sarah Dieleman Perry, director of Economic Opportunity, Neighborhood Allies. The Pittsburgh FEC offers free professional one-onone financial counseling for individuals and families looking to address their financial challenges and plan for their futures. Any area resident over the age
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Designers present plans for building and playground at 24th and E. Carson Continued from Page 1 building, but is located within the E. Carson Street Historic District. It was also noted that over the years the original windows were replaces and many were filled in with brick. The proposal includes opening up some of the space where the windows were to bring the building back somewhat to the original industrial look. Although they don’t plan to keep the Baron Batch elephant mural on the front of the building, the garage door the mural is on will be filled
in, they are working with Mr. Batch on introducing art into the first floor of the building. In the rear of the building, they undertook a structural analysis of the iconic chimney and determined through age, seismic activity or weather occurrence, that the chimney was “structurally unstable.” Several South Side residents asked is there was a way to save at least part of the 40 ft. chimney. The designers said they would look at options, but weren’t hopeful about saving even part of the chimney as it affects even the lower por-
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tion of the building. The 24 th Street lot, between Carey Way and Sarah Street, would include a parking lot for 13 cars and requires a hearing before the Zoning Board. The playground is proposed to have landscaping, an eight-foot privacy fence and a shed for playground equipment. The project includes new sidewalks on E. Carson and 24th streets and some new tree pits. Concerns by those in attendance included what the plans were for landscaping and maintenance of the parking lot. The designers were also asked to consider a smaller six-foot privacy fence and trees for buffers to soften the look of the playground and not have a “giant wall of vinyl-coated fence.” The designers said the eight-foot fence was for the safety of the children. Given the age of the children at the center, the residents said a six-foot fence should be all that was needed. Jody Schurman from the Local Review Committee said while the building is non-contributing to the historic district, the committee still appreciated that they were recreating the industrial look of the windows. He added while the plans call for the building to be painted, something the historic district doesn’t permit, they would be able to paint it since it had already been painted in the past. They would, however, have to use historic colors. Mr. Schurman said the full Local Review Committee would be willing to meet with the designers before going before the city’s Historic Review Commission. Other concerns expressed by local residents included where the additional parking would be located. According to the square footage of the building, 42 spaces would
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Plans for 2400 E. Carson Street call for renovating the building to be used for a community daycare center and therapy program for children ages 5 and under that experience some behavioral and emotional disruptions. The 4,000 sq. ft. vacant lot will include a playground and parking for the center. be required and only 13 in- Side Community Council’s swers to the questions asked cluded with the parking lot June DAM meeting with an- by community members. behind the building. There were also concerns that with 50 children in the building, that as many as 50 additional cars would be am pm dropping off and picking up th children on 24 Street addCan Be Pre-Ordered ing to an already congestCall Barb, ed area during morning and 412-551-0485 Sponsored By The Pittsburgh evening rush hours. A traffic Each & Leave Message study was suggested to see Deafblind Lions Club what the impact would be St. John the Baptist Byzantine Catholic Church on the neighborhood. 1720 Jane St., (South Side) Before adjourning for the Pick Up Food on Harcum Way — Between Back of Church & 18th Street Fire Station evening, it was suggested the Benefits Vision/Hearing Impaired & Local Charities designers return to the South
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Carson Street in ‘disarray’ as patrons, litter return Continued from Page 1 es it is to their advantage to keep their storefronts clean. Mr. Kraus said businesses are coming back following the pandemic, and they will want to make a good impression with customers. New traffic signals and lighting are also coming, which will further enhance the neighborhood. How to improve safety on the streets is important to him and public safety officials in light of the increase in national gun violence. One step they are taking is the addition of light towers on 15th and 17th streets to protect public space. “It will calm the energy of the crowd,” he said, while also increasing visibility for police.
People who come here deserve to be safe, he said. He called it a work in progress. The safety lane at 12th through 17th streets is also a priority in case the EMS must respond. Mr. Kraus also raised the matter of “fat alley” between 17th and 16th streets (Mary and Jane streets) and “skinny alley” between 16th and 15th streets. He said there have been requests to pave fat alley for fear of someone falling, especially the elderly. But it is not public property so the city cannot pave it. The alley has been gated by the owners to limit access as they like that it is secured. Mr. Kraus said he has been receiving lots of calls about
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it. “A lot of people are unhappy,” he said. Ms. Rudiak said in the mornings the owners were cleaning up animal and human waste, used condoms, beer bottles, and more. So, it was dangerous and an insurance liability -- quality of life issues. She concluded that the alley being gated is a good solution for the owners. Next, in the Development Activities Meeting (DAM) update, Ms. Rudiak reported there were two presentations at the SSCC on May 27. 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. One presentation involved the Oliver Bath House. The work will include the completion of the preservation and renovation of the building to include windows, ingress/egress, code compliance, new MEP systems, new roof/roof structures, and the removal of the non-contributing penthouse. “It was a good presenta-
tion with good discussion among community members,” she said. The other presentation was for 2400 East Carson St, or the former Goodwill building. The building was purchased from Goodwill by a private owner, who will lease to UPMC, which will operate a program for children to age 5. A vacant lot at 24th and Sarah streets was also purchased for a parking lot and playground. As all of the property will be leased by UPMC it will be on the tax rolls, attendees were told. There were numerous community concerns with the project, such as drop-off and pick-up by parents; how will this occur on the busy street? What is the plan for the flow? As the children will be so young it will take time to remove from vehicles and deliver safely to the site. A traffic study was also suggested by attendees. Employee parking is also an issue. With 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. hours, residents want to know the parking plan as parking is a premium on the
South Side, and they do not want street spots taken from residents. The hope is that an UPMC official, and not just developers, will attend the June 24 DAM to respond to the concerns. The project will go before the Historic Review Commission because of changes to the building’s exterior. It will also go before the Zoning Board of Adjustment (ZBA) to use the vacant lot as a parking lot and playground. Next, in the report of the South Side Slopes Neighborhood Association (SSSNA), president Blake McLaren said the annual summer picnic will be held, in person, on July 13 beginning at 6:30 p.m. at the Bandi Schaum Community Garden. There will be a food truck and free food. Attendees should bring their own beverages (BYOB). In the report of the Chamber, Ms. Gonzalez said the annual South Side Golf Classic would be held on Aug. 2 at the South Hills Country Club in Whitehall. In the SSCC report, Ms. Rudiak said there have been numerous beautification efforts the past month, such as weeding, planting, and mulching at 18 th and Carson streets, 11 th and Carson streets, Armstrong and Ormsby parks, and elsewhere. “The South Side is looking more beautiful every day,” she said. Next, Rev. Hamilton-Vargo reported her church is part of the South Pittsburgh Coalition for Peace, and a rally/ prayer vigil against gun violence was planned for the following day. In the UPMC report, Lynn Kurhan reported the UPMC Outpatient Center, 2310 Jane St., continues to administer COVID-19 vaccines, although the number of people seeking the vaccine is dropping. Walk-ins are accepted. She also said that Julie Hecker, VP of Operations, UPMC Mercy, will speak at the Planning Forum’s July 27 meeting. Next, Moira Kaleida, of the office of state Rep. Jessica Benham, reported the new unemployment system went up that day, and they had some success with it. The office can assist with unemployment issues for residents, if needed. The office will also be happy to assist with forms
TUESDAY, JUNE 15, 2021
for property tax rebates, especially for seniors. The office is working on a Hilltop health fair for this summer or early fall during which blood pressure can be taken, Medicare/Medicaid information provided, and more. The final report was from Gisele Betances of the Mayor’s Office, who reported that 2022 budget forums are currently being held. Residents are asked to provide input on the 2022 capital and operating budgets by completing surveys at: engage.pittsburghpa. gov/2022 budgets. “We want everyone’s voices heard,” she said. Ms. Betances also reported that June 14 is the deadline for applications from community groups for the “Love Your Block” program. For more information, visit: engage. pittsburghpa.gov/loveyourblock2021. The mini-grant program awards $1,500 to community groups to complete volunteer projects in their neighborhood. She also said the city is planning to open eight of its pools this month, but is in need of lifeguards to staff the pools. Applicants must be city residents and at least 16 years of age. For more information, visit: pittsburghpa.gov/ citiparks/lifeguard-info. In other news, Ms. Rudiak reported that the two friends displaced in the fire in the 1100 block of East Carson St. have found a place on the Slopes. On Feb. 8, an historic four-story building was destroyed by a massive fire. It housed the Chamber offices, barber shop, and six apartments. While everyone escaped safely, the building had to be demolished. “I was happy to hear they have landed on their feet,” she said of the men. Mr. Kraus said there are reports of people blasting music at Esser’s Plaza, 1200 East Carson St. He said signage may be developed to enforce the rules on amplified sound and more. The final news, reported by Jessica Chau of the office of state Rep. Jake Wheatley, Jr., is that a health and wellness weekend will be held on Center Ave. the weekend of Aug. 21. The next Planning Forum will be a combined July-August meeting on July 27.