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Outpatient center recruiting staff Reporter to expand services Beltzhoover Inside This Week’s South • Pittsburgh
A Candidates’ Forum, Meet, Greet and Eat will take place in Upper McKinley Park, 900 Delmont Ave., on Saturday, Oct. 30.
UPMC responds to concerns from South Siders
By Margaret L. Smykla Contributing Writer See Page 2 The Oct. 12 meeting of the South Side South Side Planning Forum Grounded Strategies featured UPMC updates in is seeking ambassadors the area from its vice presfrom South Side Flats and ident of operations, Julie Slopes for the 21st Street Hecker. sewershed of the PWSA She began with an overStormwater Master Plan. view of the parking lots See Page 4 and trees. She said trees were pruned in lots used by Allentown Governor Tom Wolf UPMC. Mike Clark, of the South and the Pennsylvania Housing Finance Agen- Side Community Council c y b o a r d a n n o u n c e d (SSCC), said trees have been three City of Pittsburgh trimmed, and he is hoping affordable housing devel- for more trees, especially opments will be receiving at the Sarah St. lot. He said tax credits this year, in- beautification is needed at cluding one development the edges. He also said the Roeschin Allentown. @ sopghreporter.com Taylor building has only one tree on Jane at Mary streets. Duquesne He called for planting street Heights trees. Mayor William Peduto Ms. Hecker said she would has introduced legislation talk to the grounds crew. to City Council to lease the A resident said the corformer Steamfitters Local ner of Mary and 20th streets Union 449 at 1517 Wood- has a great-looking planter, ruff Street. making for a marked @ sopghreporter.com improvement at the site. As to the walk-in clinic, Pittsburgh Ms. Hecker said the major City of Pittsburgh trickor-treating hours will be issue is that a primary physiSunday, Oct. 31 from 5-7 cian is on extended medical leave. Once staffing returns, p.m. an urgent care and primary @ sopghreporter.com care office is a possibility. There are x-ray services Classified Ads.............. Page 2 at the clinic on certain days Zoning Board................ Online only as the patient volume is Or check them out at: not there, she said. Currently, the sports complex has xwww.sopghreporter.com 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. Continued on Page 3
The City of Pittsburgh is renovating the former Zone 3 police station on Mary Street to be used by police at times when they are typically dispatched to South Side in high volume. Construction has begun and the substation is expected to open in 2022. For more information, turn to Page 3.
Mt. Oliver officials look into possible sidewalk grant program for residents By Tom Smith South Pittsburgh Reporter Editor
A decision on a request from a Mt. Oliver property owner to remove a broken sidewalk and replace it with grass was postponed while the Borough Council explores options. The existing sidewalk on Sherman Street is not ADA compliant at two-feet wide and would have to be replaced with one wide enough to accommodate a wheelchair. There is also a utility pole in the middle of the narrow sidewalk. At the September Borough Council meeting, the owner requested permission to remove the exiting sidewalk and replace it with grass. A decision was expected in October. Solicitor Emily Mueller said according to the ordinance, the property owner cannot remove a sidewalk and replace it with grass.
NOVEMBER 6 T H & 7 T H CrashtheCarnegies.org
The sidewalk would have to be repaired or replaced at the owner’s cost. Concerning the width of the sidewalk, Councilman Aaron Graham said the other side of the street from the property has the same issue with a narrow sidewalk, as do many in the borough. He
was concerned it could be an exorbitant cost to owners to replace those sidewalks in the borough. He asked if it would be worth exploring a “matching funds” program where the borough could pay up to half of the cost of a new Continued on Page 2
South Side Slopes Neighborhood Association By Margaret L. Smykla Contributing Writer The second to the last 2021 general meeting of the South Side Slopes Neighborhood Association (SSSNA) on Oct. 12 featured updates on Development Activities Meetings (DAM), slumlords, and the homeless. President Blake McLaren began the meeting detailing the ways to contact the organization: http://www. southsideslopes.org; info@ southsideslopes.org; or 412-
376-7373. In his DAM report, Mr. McLaren said a DAM was held on Sept. 23 to review the proposed construction addition and conversion to multi-unit residential at 32 and 44 Pius St at the St. Michael’s School building. A variance is sought as use as a multi-unit residential in the Hillside District is not permitted. The project will go before the Zoning Board of Adjustment (ZBA) on Nov. 4. Mr. McLaren will submit comContinued on Page 1
Slopes updated on development, construction and safety projects
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Mt. Oliver considering sidewalk grant program for property owners Continued from Page 1 sidewalk or help in some other way. “This could be a good way to clean up some of the problem spots we have in the borough,” Mr. Graham said. Borough Manager Rick said some nearby municipalities offer similar programs and he would check with them to learn how their programs operate. He added it could be beneficial to study where pedestrian linkages should be, such as connecting streets like Ormsby and Hays, while on others like Koehlar or Moye it may make sense to not require sidewalks. If changes are proposed, the borough
ordinances would have to be updated. Ms. Muller said in another borough, neighbors banded together and were able to get a cheaper price per sidewalk by having multiple sidewalks replaced at the same time. Mr. Hopkinson said other municipalities, when doing a street program, notified residents of the upcoming road work and then they could contact the contractor doing the work to replace the sidewalk at a less expensive price while the street work was being done. The residential work could possibly be aided with a matching grant program.
Ms. Mueller said if the council wanted to explore some kind of funding option for residents, they could suspend or postpone a decision on the Sherman Street sidewalk while more information is gathered. “Whatever it is, you have to make it uniformly to everyone,” she said. The council decided to delay a decision on the Sherman Avenue property while more information is gathered. Under new business, Councilman Paul Doyle expressed concerns about the length of time dumpsters are left in the borough. Other council members mirrored
those concerns about the dumpsters, if permits are being issued and if the dumpsters are damaging borough streets or sidewalks. Mr. Hopkinson said if the dumpster is placed in the street, Public Works checks on the permit. If the dumpster is placed on private property, the code enforcement officer checks on it. Permits are issued for 14 days and may receive multiple 10-day extensions. In the Fire Department report, Chief Ron Lowrey said the fire company responded to 35 calls for service: 21 EMS calls and 14 fire calls. He also said the department received a Federal
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grant for $149,000 for new Self Contained Breathing Apparatus (SCBA) equipment. They plan to purchase 22 new SCBAs and new facepieces for every firefighter. It’s a matching grant so the department needs to match 5 percent, bring the total purchase price to $156,000. The new equipment has been ordered, but is delayed until after the first of the year due to COVID.
Mr. Lowrey asked if it would be possible to start a Capital Fund to accumulate unused funding from the borough’s annual budget. The accumulated funds over several years could be used as a down payment on major purchases or for the fire company’s portion of matching grants. Mr. Hopkinson said it would be possible to set up an escrow account to be used for their purposes.
A Candidates’ Forum, Meet, Greet and Eat will take place in Upper McKinley Park, 900 Delmont Ave., on Saturday, Oct. 30. A free picnic style lunch will be served during the Meet and Greet from 10:30 a.m. to noon with the Candidates’ Forum from noon to 1 p.m. Mayoral candidates Ed Gainey and Tony Moreno will speak. As well as, judicial candidates: Wrenna Watson, The Honorable El-
liot Howsie, Sabrina Korbel, The Honorable Tom Caulfield, Jessel Costa, The Honorable Bruce Beemer and Nicola Henry-Taylor. The forum is hosted by: Beltzhoover Consensus Group, Urbankind, Knoxville Community Council and the Beltzhoover InterAgency Network. There will also be UPMC giveaways, WRCE100 and DJ Rick the Ruler. Those attending are asked to bring their own lawn chair.
Candidates forum Saturday is in Upper McKinley Park
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TUESDAY, OCT. 26, 2021
THE SOUTH PITTSBURGH REPORTER
South Side Clean Team picked up 11,000 pounds of trash in September Continued from Page 1 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 datadriven, 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 “subculture” on the area streets that so many bottles of alcohol are being collected.
City to reopen old Zone 3 as police substation, construction should be complete to open in ‘22 The city has started construction and will be opening a Zone 3 Police substation in the former South Side police station on South 18th Street. Instead of having to respond and commute between the South Side nighttime entertainment district and the main Zone 3 office in Allentown, police staff will be able to operate out of the Zone 3 substation during times like weekends when they are typically dispatched to South Side in high volume. Located off of East Carson Street, officers will be able to use the space for breaks, to do paperwork and respond more efficiently to calls for service in the area. “The opening of this substation is exciting as our neighbors and businesses in
the South Side have called for increased patrols to protect the safety of our community of residents and visitors,” said City Councilman Bruce Kraus. “Models like this help officers to be able to walk the beat and become familiar with the community, which builds trust.” “The addition of a Pittsburgh Police facility in the South Side flats will provide a more accessible point of contact for residents, businesses, and visitors to the area,” said Pubic Safety Director Wendell Hissrich. “A police substation will afford officers a safe and quiet space to conduct interviews, complete necessary paperwork and take reports. It will also provide a respite for officers working long hours in the busy South Side
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corridor.” The City of Pittsburgh introduced the substation model in order to provide additional support in areas that host large-scale events or entertainment districts that require additional patrols during certain times and neighborhoods that have called for community-based policing. Pittsburgh Police currently operate substations in Downtown and Northview Heights, both of which have been successful in expanding the bureau’s community-based policing strategy. Construction has begun to renovate the building and is funded through the American Rescue Plan to promote community safety. The South Side substation is expected to open in 2022 and the city plans to open another substation next year in Homewood. The bureau hopes to open substations in each of the six police zones.
Trunk or Treat in Arlington
The Arlington Civic Council’s Trunk or Treat will take place on Halloween afternoon, October 31 from noon to 3 p.m. The sweet event will take place at New Academy Charter School, 2500 Jonquil Way, Pittsburgh, PA 15210. Parents wanting to bring their children to “trick or treat,” pass out candy or do both, should call Annie Parish at 412-445-6825. Last day to register for the Trunk or Treat is Friday, Oct. 29.
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 twoand-a-half workers with benefits. He said he and Ms. Harnden are talking about increasing the 2.5 workers to 3 workers. The third fulltime 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 gaspowered 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 18 th 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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Slopes updated on development, construction and safety projects Continued from Page 1 ments to the ZBA on the project. For details, visit: https:// bit.ly/3b2ThQZ A DAM provides an opportunity for citizens, property owners, business owners, and stakeholders to learn about the proposals affecting them and to resolve concerns at an early stage of the application process. The next DAM will be held via Zoom on Oct. 27 at 6:30 p.m. on a new, threestory, 2400-square-foot dwelling on St. Patrick St. A variance is sought as it exceeds 50 percent threshold in the Hillside District. The hope is to put the property up for sale. He also reported the new Zone 3 Commander, John Fisher, delivers crime updates on the fourth Thursdays at 6 p.m. in the Zone
3 Public Safety Council monthly meetings on Zoom. Email Liz Style at firstname.lastname@example.org for more information concerning the Safety Council. Next, city Councilman Bruce Kraus, in his updates, said the PennDOT East Carson St. safety improvement project will be completed in about nine months. The project will extend from the Smithfield St. Bridge to 33rd St. Upgrades include: milling and resurfacing; signage and signal updates; sidewalk improvements; ADA ramp and guiderail installations; high visibility crosswalks; and more. He also reported the 18 th St. signals upgrade project for pedestrian safety should begin in early-to-mid Spring 2022. The intersections will be
redesigned at Sarah St., Jane St., Mary St., Josephine St., Mission St., Arlington Ave., and Amanda St. The traffic signal upgrades include: gloss black signal poles; audible countdown pedestrian signals; and more. Mr. Kraus also reported it is capital budget time, and for the SSSNA to let him know what they would like included. He also said with a new administration coming in, changes are on-going in the executive branch as some department heads have already left for other jobs. To a question about Pius St. traffic calming, he said he thinks speed bumps on Pius St. would be a good thing. A resident commented while the speed limit on Pius St. is 25 mph, some motorists seem to travel up to 50 mph.
“It would be a tremendous benefit,” he said about speed bumps. The resident said ticketing speeders would also help. Mr. Kraus said he would talk to the commander about the matter. To a complaint about Airbnb, Mr. Kraus said to send him the addresses and he will assist. One strategy is for him to contact the owners of the property about being a good neighbor. Airbnb is an online company which provides a platform for members to rent out their properties or rooms to guests. To a complaint about rental slumlords, Mr. Kraus said the problem is very frustrating. He said he has worked toward a license rental registry, and taken it through court numerous times. It calls for inspections and
more of the properties. However, the Realtors Association fights them, he said. They contend that a $12 fee to finance inspections and more is too high. Judge James nixed it. Mr. Kraus said the pushback is the organization does not want inspections in houses, and it has the political clout to resist. Mr. Kraus said a rental registry without a fee is an option, and he will ask the new administration to pursue it. Citations are a first step “in a very arduous process,” he said of holding landlords accountable for their properties. A problem is that the citations are dismissed regularly by the courts. Barbara Rudiak, of the South Side Community Council (SSCC), said its South Watch works on trash violations. When trash violations are observed, South Watch volunteers place an orange placard on the front door detailing the violation. If not corrected, the property owner is contacted to correct the problem. If the property owner does not take action, South Watch contacts Environmental Services. The violation may then go directly to the courtroom of Judge Gene Ricciardi, who takes these violations seriously, Ms. Rudiak said. Mr. McLaren said Judge Ricciardi should be invited to the next SSSNA board meeting to discuss all of this. Ms. Rudiak said she has found the majority of property owners to be responsive. Regarding absentee landlords, an attendee said if the city has to step in and clean up then it becomes a “billable” offense attached to a lien. Mr. Kraus said the city would clean up if it is a very bad, public health issue.
A Pius St. resident reported that people living under the railroad tracks have connected lighting from the bridge. Mr. Kraus said Laura Drogowski, of the new Office of Community Health and Safety, is becoming a presence in such encampments. Two residents commented some homeless people on the Slopes are stealing and breaking into properties, and taking over abandoned houses. The one resident said he called 911 the previous day about someone who threw a brick through an abandoned house. Mr. Kraus suggested having Ms. Drogowski speak at the next SSSNA meeting. Also, maybe someone from the Bureau of Building Inspection (BBI), Mr. McLaren said. In committee reports, Goatfest was held on Sept. 18 at the Arlington ball field. The purpose of the goats was to eat invasive species and vines. In the StepTrek report, Mr. McLaren said that more than 380 tickets were sold for the 21st Annual StepTrek on Oct. 2. There was over $13,500 in sponsorships. Revenue totaled $22,000 for a net income of $10,697. The annual non-competitive, self-guided walking tour of the Slopes is the organization’s biggest fundraiser. In the beautification report, clean-ups are held the last Wednesdays of each month. The next clean-up will be at 6 p.m. on Oct. 27. The meeting concluded with Mr. McLaren stating the SSSNA is looking for new board members for 2022. Contact him at 412721-1745 if interested. The next general meeting is the holiday party on Dec. 14.
Grounded Strategies is seeking ambassadors from South Side Flats and Slopes for the 21st Street sewershed of the PWSA Stormwater Master Plan. Ambassadors will learn about the new PSWA Stormwater Master Plan and how the elements of the stormwater fee, consent decrees and other PWSA projects will have a role in the community; Share local knowledge with Grounded and project partners; Conduct outreach to neighbors through various mechanisms such as social
media, tabling at events and attending community meetings; and, assist with field data collection to collect input from neighbors. Ambassadors will earn $150 a month for 10 hours of work per month. The project runs from November 2021 to July 2022. Interested candidates must apply by October 27 by contacting Becca Simon at: email@example.com or 503-360-6597 or https:// www.groundedpgh.org/ projects/pwsa-ambassador/
Neighborhood ambassadors needed for stormwater plan