Happy June/July! There’s been a lot of change since my last newsletter. We’ve said goodbye to my policy analyst Alex Pazuchanics, who has taken a position in State Representative Erin Molchany’s office--you can find him at their district office at 900 Brookline Boulevard. Adam Shuck has been named Communications Manager, and I’ve brought on Daniel Barrett as Community Relations Manager--read a little about Dan on our District 4 Council website. Ashleigh Deemer continues to serve as my Chief of Staff.
In this issue...
Working to make South Pittsburgh a better place, every day
Seniors aged 60+ can receive free home safety resources
Elder-ado has been an important institution in South Pittsburgh for years, providing care and services for senior citizens and our communities. And for nineteen years, Steve Hutter has been at the steering wheel, serving as executive director since 1994. In late May, Councilman Kraus and I issued a proclamation for Steve, whose oversight of the Knoxville, McKinley Park, and Carrick senior centers has earned our deep respect and admiration. May 23, 2013 was declared Stephen L. Hutter Day in the City of Pittsburgh. Read the proclamation here. Also, read a short profile of Steve in the Tribune-Review here. I was honored to receive Elder-ado’s 11th Annual Distinguished Service Award on May 23 while we celebrated Steve’s years of service--and I look forward to continuing to work with Elder-ado to provide for South Pittsburgh’s senior citizens.
After Beechview’s core business district was left in distress when a bankrupt developer fled the country, revitalizing Broadway and Beechview Avenues seemed like an uphill battle. In the past several years, though, we’ve seen a steady glimmer of hope. The IGA, BREW coffee shop, Tienda La Jimenez, Casa Rasta--and more--are cementing Beechview as a unique food destination. On Saturday, June 22, Beechview hosted its second annual Taste of Beechview food festival, attracting restaurants, farmers, and food vendors from all over. Crucial to this food festival has been Crested Duck Charcuterie, an artisan meat market at 1603 Broadway Avenue. On Monday, June 17, I welcomed Kevin Costa to Council to receive a proclamation honoring Crested Duck for their efforts in championing Beechview through this food festival. Read the proclamation here.
And congratulations are in order for Sherry Miller Brown, a Carrick resident and director of McCarl Center for Nontraditional Student Success at the University of Pittsburgh’s College of General Studies. She was recently honored for her commitment to Pitt by the chancellor, citing her “respect to the amount of time, degree of enthusiasm, magnitude of involvement, and depth of personal connection” to the Pitt community. She was awarded a 2013 Chancellor’s Award for Staff for Excellence in Service to the University. Congratulations!
In early June, I was invited to the White House to speak with over 100 national representatives about how to improve our judicial system. Aside from catching court shows on television, the federal court system is something we rarely think about in our daily lives--but did you know that more than 10% of our lower federal courts, where cases on everything from drug trafficking to real estate fraud are decided, have no judges to preside over them? Our federal courts have long provided a level playing field in which regular Americans can stand up for their rights and be considered equal to powerful interests. But increasingly, Americans are finding it harder to take their cases to court and have their voices heard.
Federal judges have reported having to handle twice as many criminal cases as they did two years ago, which means that civil cases suffer, since criminal cases trump civil ones. This affects our daily lives, delaying hearings on cases like consumer protection and labor law. Cases like this disaster with a slum landlord in our district illustrate why federal courts matter in our neighborhoods. I am pleased that after the visit with our Pennsylvania delegation, Senator Casey and Senator Toomey worked with their respective parties to get the Senate to vote on three state nominees that had been stalled for as long as five years. There are still 8 vacancies left in Pennsylvania and we will keep pushing--because as anyone involved in our judicial system knows, justice delayed is justice denied.
Do you think the streets in your neighborhood are in the worst shape they’ve been in a long time? Well, you’re probably right.
The condition of our streets is a perennial problem, and we are constantly handling calls, emails, and site visits every day that have to do with road conditions. It seems that particularly terrible stretches of road may not get the repaving they need for a very long time. Unfortunately, every year, the City’s paving program has to deal with rising costs and a growing pool of need--and every year, it gets bigger and bigger.
Pittsburgh has a lot of asphalt roads. Hundreds and hundreds of miles. Stretched end-to-end, they would reach from the Point all the way to Minneapolis! Because of weather and climate, weight and pressure, and various chemical exposures (like gasoline, oil, and salt), asphalt deterioration begins almost as soon as it’s freshly laid down. An asphalt road is expected to last for a decade in Pittsburgh. Doing the math, that means we should pave about 86 miles of road every year so that no street is left unmaintained for more than ten years.
But since at least 2004, the City hasn’t been able to keep up with that measure, paving much fewer than 86 miles every year. Last year the City took out a bond for $80 million for the first time in over a decade, and one stated purpose for the money is necessary infrastructure projects, including resurfacing. For 2012 and 2013, approximately $10 million has been spent on paving, and last year we were able to pave a record 61 miles--which is still short of the necessary amount of 86 miles to keep our streets up to date.
Add to this the fact that for every year that we pave fewer than 86 miles, we add streets to our paving deficit, meaning we start the next year already behind. For every street that enters its tenth year (meaning it’s time to repave), there’s a street entering its eleventh, twelfth, thirteenth...
An audit by the Controller’s office in 2009 found that a mile of paving costs approximately $315,000 (to read this audit, and see our infographic about this information, check out this page on my website). As revenue from the federal government, local non-profits, and City property taxes has remained steady or declined--not to mention the rising costs of crude oil globally--paving is becoming a more expensive proposition every year. And unforeseen problems like landslides, erosion, and structural issues can compound the cost of a simple paving job.
The total cost to repave all of the roads that are over a decade old would be approximately $103 million, roughly ten times the amount that we can afford to budget this year. The cost to repave all the roads would actually be nearly double our total capital budget this year (which would mean no pools, parks, senior centers, fire trucks, ballfield lights, or dozens of other programs for the next two years).
Given all of these realities, we continue to listen to your suggestions, drive through the district to investigate, and submit our recommendations for street resurfacing to the Department of Public Works, which is tasked with making the final decision based on their own system. We do everything we can on our end to advocate for residents, including monitoring 311 requests, going out and taking pictures, submitting your letters and petitions, and working with you all to make your voices are heard in the process.
Please continue to call my office, 311, or both to report potholes and other infrastructure issues that Public Works should look into.
In-house paving is continuing around the City, Though we don’t yet have a timeline from the Department of Public Works as far as work on our streets in District 4, we were given a list of streets that are slated to be repaved this season. The condition of our streets is a perennial problem, and so my office put together this graphic explanation of the City’s paving program.
After being given the list of our streets that will be paved, my office also put together this map showing the streets chosen this year--please note that this is a living document, and may be changed to reflect updates we receive from DPW.
As many Beechview folks know, the Urban Redevelopment Authority has owned four key buildings in the Broadway Avenue business district for some time. At a recent community meeting, the URA reported that they have worked to find qualified investors to renovate the buildings and attract businesses, but so far, they haven't found a match. Now, the URA is looking to renovate some of the buildings themselves--something they call "speculative renovation." The URA would contract with an architect and construction firms to get the work done, and get businesses in the storefront sooner.
But that isn't as easy as it sounds. The URA had prepared to do an in-house renovation of 1601 Broadway Avenue (which many of you know as the building with the turret, across Hampshire from Brew), but the estimates have come back several hundred thousand dollars higher than budgeted. With diminishing state and federal funding, cobbling together the necessary dollars to renovate these buildings has been a challenge. With every year that goes by, the buildings continue to deteriorate while construction costs rise.
Now, the URA is turning their attention to 1600 Broadway, which has more space, and more potential for attracting tenants when the renovation is complete. The key to getting started is additional state funds, which have been requested by the URA through the state Department of Community and Economic Development (DCED) and their Keystone Communities Grant. The URA requested $500,000 through this program in March, and they are awaiting a response.
If you would like to communicate your support for this grant to DCED, you can do so by writing a letter to:
Commonwealth Keystone Building
Or you can send a message to them through their website.
We'll keep you posted about the status of the grant and these renovations.
The Pittsburgh Partnership for Neighborhood Development (PPND) has put together a Catalytic Projects Grant Program to support creative, innovative, collaborative projects that improve Pittsburgh’s neighborhoods. Grant awards will range from $25,000 to $75,000 and are intended for projects and programs that support neighborhoods that deal with any of the following issues:
Of particular interest to PPND, according to their overview of the grant program, are early stage ideas that, if funded, could serve as catalysts for their neighborhoods. Read more about the 2013 Catalytic Projects Program at PPND's website.
If you and your community group are interested in finding out more about the grant program, be sure to attend a workshop on Wednesday, June 26 from 10:00 a.m. to noon or 5:00 p.m. to 6:00 p.m. at the Bruno Building at 945 Liberty Avenue. Please RSVP to one of the sessions to firstname.lastname@example.org. If you’re unable to make one of these workshops, get in touch with PPND to coordinate another time to meet.
On Wednesday, July 31, grant proposals are to be received by 5:00 p.m. by email to email@example.com or postal mail to:
Pittsburgh Partnership for Neighborhood Development
Putting a once-thriving neighborhood back on track requires a lot of help from everyone--from elected officials to business owners to community volunteers to development corporations to our working families, friends, and neighbors. In early June, I was happy to learn that Economic Development South, a community development corporation working on revitalizing the Brownsville Road corridor, was selected to be part of a pilot program called the Strengthening Communities Partnership.
Along with several community organizations in southwestern Pennsylvania, EDS applied and was accepted to take part in this program which will provide a modest seed grant and technical assistance from the Allegheny Conference. EDS has been a great partner for District 4, and we look forward to continuing to work together to improve our neighborhoods--along with you! Read more at this link.
Taking effect on June 16, a number of bus routes have seen some changes--mostly minor. Many lines have had slight time adjustments, and some have had some other, larger changes. All information can be found on the Port Authority website.
These lines have had slight trip time adjustments:
51 Carrick. Trip times will be adjusted for all days. On weekdays, frequency will be decreased to every 10 minutes from 6:20 a.m. to 7:30 a.m. and from 2:50 p.m. to 3:50 p.m. The weekday inbound trips that arrive Downtown at 7:40 a.m., 8:10 a.m., and 8:40 a.m. will be extended to begin at Lebanon Road past Noble Drive instead of at Brentwood Loop. Additionally, the weekday outbound trip departing Downtown at 2:10 p.m. will be extended to end at Century Square and the weekday inbound trip arriving Downtown at 4:30 p.m. will begin at Century Square instead of at Lebanon Road past Noble Drive.
The 30-day window for Mr. Smithbower to appeal to open a new strip club at the site of the former Butta Bing Club on Route 51 in Overbrook has closed as of June 14. He has not filed an appeal as of Friday, June 21, and a Commonwealth Court order denying his prior appeal is final. My staff and I will continue to relay any information we learn about this saga. Once again, this is an example of a neighborhood organizing together to achieve a common goal.
There are currently openings for volunteer positions serving on a task force with the intent to integrate people with disabilities into community activities and the employment of their choosing. The task force will also advise the Mayor and County Executive on state and federal issues that deal with the dignity of our neighbors, friends, and family members who live with disabilities.
Members of this task force are expected to be city residents, attend ten Monday afternoon meetings a year, usually between 1:00 and 3:00 p.m. at 200 Ross Street, and the positions are appointed a four-year term. If you’re interested in learning more, visit this page or call 412.255.2102. If you’re interested in taking part, email your resume and a letter of intent to firstname.lastname@example.org. The deadline to apply is noon on August 31, 2013.
Farmers Markets are here again! Below are several markets in and around District 4. For a complete resource of Citiparks markets, click here. For an interactive map of markets both in the City and in the surrounding suburbs, click here. And for other markets in Dormont, Whitehall, Carnegie, and other surrounding suburbs, check here.
Ready for the summer? My office has dropped off Citiparks summer guides around the district, including at the IGA in Beechview, Tienda la Jimenez in Beechview, and the Shop ‘n Save on Brownsville Road. But it’s also all online--check out all the upcoming activities (including the art cart, outdoor movie screenings, and various community festivals) in this PDF.
August 6 is National Night Out, where we create an atmosphere of hope, excitement, positivity, and unity. Kids, business owners, teens, seniors, and all residents come together to showcase our communities’ vibrancy and mutual respect. Our South Pittsburgh communities will be participating, as well many, many others all over the nation.
At 7:00 p.m. on Tuesday, August 6, join your neighbors in Beechview at a gathering at the parking lot at Broadway Avenue and Beechview Avenue. Call my office at 412.255.2131 for more details.
Carrick and Overbrook have had a fantastic recent history of block watch power--when neighbors, business owners, and safety officials band together, our communities grow stronger. And on Tuesday July 30, we can celebrate our block watch successes and meet new neighbors at the second annual Carrick Communities Against Crime night, taking place along Brownsville Road from Churchview Avenue to Owendale Avenue.
Everyone is invited, including businesses, food vendors, or artists who would like to set up a table to promote themselves. If you’re interested in being involved as a vendor, please contact the Carrick/Overbrook Block Watch at email@example.com or call 412.884.1900.
Local block watches and neighborhood groups are organizing street-specific events--call my office at 412.255.2131 to see if we can put you in touch with someone in your area.
On two dates this summer, you can finally get rid of those aerosol cans, paint cans, printer cartridges, and TV and computer equipment!
If you are concerned about crime in your neighborhood, we encourage you to attend your neighborhood block watch meeting. There, you can learn how to organize your closest neighbors and meet people who may have dealt with similar issues elsewhere in the community. This is a chance to meet local officers, officials, and your own neighbors, and to speak up about problems you see and experience every day.
The Pittsburgh Community Safety website is another fantastic resource for keeping tabs on your community. Sign up to receive public safety alerts in your police zone, and check out the virtual blotter. Need help? Check out the user guide.
Did you know that our houses can potentially be dangerous places, especially for the youngest and the oldest members of our population? A program for County residents aged 60 or older can help recognize and fix some common potential problems. A project of Family Services of Western Pennsylvania’s Interfaith Volunteer Caregiver program, trained volunteers will inspect your house room by room for fire and fall hazards, making recommendations as they go. They will help distribute safety supplies (like nightlights, bathmats, and flashlights), install smoke alarms, and help residents outfit their homes with grab bars or handrails--and it’s all free of charge. If you’re interested, please call the Interfaith Volunteer Caregivers program at 412.345.7420 to request this home safety check, which lasts about an hour.
The Interfaith Volunteer Caregivers program, a part of Family Services of Western Pennsylvania, is advertising lots of free, volunteer services to our area’s aging population. Anyone in the County aged 60+ qualifies for free help from IVC, regardless of income. Services they provide include:
To learn more and to get assistance for yourself or a family member, neighbor, or friend, call IVC at 412.345.7420. And also call that number if you’re considering volunteering with this program to help others.
Is your refrigerator running? How many people does it take to screw in a light bulb? But seriously, for those County residents who meet certain income guidelines, you can take part in a refrigerator replacement program and a light bulb replacement program, thanks to a grant from the state’s Community and Economic Development Department.
For refrigerators: you must own the refrigerator and it must be at least ten years old--and in working condition. You must have an active account with Duquesne Light at the address where the delivery and pick-up will occur. The refrigerator must be cleaned and emptied, and you must provide access to the removal and replacement of the refrigerator.
For light bulbs: you are able to receive 13W or 18W compact fluorescent light bulbs (a 60 watt or 75 watt equivalent). These bulbs last about ten times longer than incandescent bulbs and provide up to 70% in energy savings.
To find out if you qualify for these programs, and to enroll in them, contact Donald McEachern at 412.904.4711.
Are you a veteran, or do you know a veteran? TechShop has partnered with the VA to offer a free one year membership and $350 worth of TechShop classes for free! Apply here.
What is TechShop? New to Bakery Square, TechShop is a space where members can get access to tools and equipment that may be out of reach for a home workshop. So things like milling machines, lathes, laser cutters, welding and woodworking equipment, sewing machines, a 3-D printer, and even an indoor automotive work bay--after a safety and basic use test, and with the purchase of a membership, these tools and equipment are available for you to use. Read this page for more information.
The Carrick Tree Tenders have put some spring dates on the calendar and invite you to come out and join them for some pruning and sprucing. Jake, a representative from Tree Pittsburgh, will be assisting with Carrick’s trees this year as well. The next dates on the Tree Tenders’ schedule are:
Saturday, July 13, 10:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m.
Saturday, August 17, 10:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m.
If you are interested in attending, and for information on where to meet up on any of the future scheduled dates, please contact Joe Krynock at firstname.lastname@example.org or call my office at 412.255.2131.
The City of Pittsburgh invites all individuals seeking employment to apply online using their website at www.pghjobs.net. Click on the Online Employment Center button to view current job openings and register in the online employment system. If you don’t have access to a computer with Internet capabilities, visit the City’s Online Employment Center at 414 Grant Street, City-County Building, Fourth Floor, or call for Employment Application information at 412.255.2710.
Our Meals on Wheels programs are in need of volunteer drivers, visitors and kitchen help Monday through Friday. Volunteering requires a one and a half hour commitment for drivers and visitors and a three hour commitment for kitchen helpers once a week or as needed.
Hilltop/Mt. Washington/Bon Air/Carrick/Overbrook/Brentwood: Call the kitchen at 412.881.0990 between 8:00 a.m. and noon or stop by the kitchen at Trinity Evangelical Lutheran Church (601 Brownsville Rd.) from 8:30 a.m. to noon.
Beechview/Brookline/Carnegie: Call 412.307.1640 or the kitchen at 412.279.5670. The kitchen is located at St. John’s Lutheran Church at 601 Washington Ave, Carnegie, PA 15106.
Brookline Day at Kennywood
Improving our neighborhoods and keeping them great is a process that requires involvement from people like you. Be active, and join us at any of the following events or meetings. We can't do it without you! If you have questions about any of these events, feel free to give our office a call at 412.255.2131.
Monday, June 24, 2013