In this issue...
Working to make South Pittsburgh a better place, every day
Declutter your house while helping out someone in need
On July 3 I was joined by a group of senior citizens and representatives from various District 4 community groups, including the South Pittsburgh Development Corporation, for a press conference about traffic violence and the need for safe streets. It was an unprecedented show of unity around one issue, bringing together young and old, bicyclist, driver, and pedestrian, and residents from all over District 4 to show that we have a common concern and a collective goal: we need to make our streets safe for everyone. To do this, we need to work toward a model of what’s called “complete streets,” which is made up of the “three E’s”: engineering, education, and enforcement.
Engineering means that we need to design our infrastructure in a better way for all of us--drivers, motorcyclists, bicyclists, transit riders, children, adults, senior citizens, people who get around with a wheelchair or a walker--everybody. In Miami, artists are being commissioned to design crazy, cool, colorful crosswalks that grab the attention of drivers. In Lincoln, Nebraska, separated bike lanes are being installed so that drivers and cyclists are no longer jockeying for control of one shared road. Other cities like Lafayette, California or Hoboken, New Jersey are providing information and signage toolkits to residents who want to take control of their blocks and post their own “SLOW” signs or other temporary devices. We can and should be doing this here in Pittsburgh.
To find a complete streets-influenced project In Pittsburgh, we don’t have to look farther than Brookline Boulevard. The long-awaited reconstruction will include bump-outs at street corners to improve visibility and allow folks to cross the street more easily, improved crosswalks, bicycle racks, benches, street lighting, and landscaping that actually can have a psychological effect on drivers, slowing down their speeds. A safe, attractive streetscape also also means an economically strong neighborhood--a place where people want to eat, play, and live, and where business want to set up shop.
When’s the last time you took a driver’s test? For many of us, it’s been years and years. In that time, some laws have changed or been added. For example, did you know that it is now state law that automobiles must keep a four-foot distance from bicycles on the road at all times? Education is the second component of a complete streets plan, encouraging people to be aware of their habits on the road and to be familiar with the laws--whether it’s blowing through stop signs, texting while driving, or disobeying speed limits. Our laws are only as good as the enforcement behind them. And though we’ll never be able to have a police officer on every corner, we can work to find ways to maximize our efforts, to have officers patrol key points at key times, to enforce the laws equally to drivers, bicyclists, and pedestrians, and to keep open the lines of communication.
We’re asking you to be a part of this solution. I’m excited to say that Economic Development South is forging ahead with a bike/pedestrian committee made up of volunteers who want to make our streets safer in South Pittsburgh. As fragile and precious as life is, making our streets safe is an utterly crucial task--as a representative from Bike Pittsburgh said, “It’s easier to fix a road than a life.” If you’re interested in joining the bike/ped committee, contact Stephanie Miller at 412.884.1400. As we push on, I look forward to working with you, with our neighborhoods, and with our next mayor to make sure our City streets are safe, thriving places.
When you drive down any of our main streets, it’s our historic, iconic buildings that stand out the most. Last month, I sponsored legislation with Council President Harris and Councilman Lavelle that would allow for the creation of “conservation districts” in the City. This would allow neighborhoods to protect buildings that are historically significant from unnecessary demolition (unless they pose an imminent public safety threat). We’re in the very beginning stages of looking at conservation overlay districts, but if you’re interested in the concept and how we could use it to protect and enrich our neighborhoods, check out this study here, and you can read the legislation itself here.
Historic structures tell our neighborhoods’ stories, reminding us where we came from and shaping our unique identities. The Wigman House, at the corner of Brownsville Road and The Boulevard, is a great example of this.
EDS has been doing some great work along the Brownsville Road corridor, and In mid-July, I joined them, along with City officials and our neighbors, for an open house session to discuss some recent studies and projects. Some of the biggest takeaways were: starting a conversation with the Carrick Shopping Center on how they can improve pedestrian access and parking lot design to make it easier for senior citizens, completing the architectural plans for the Dairy District, and public safety concerns around lighting on both sides of Brownsville Road.
McKinley Park can now lay claim to the first porous pavement installed in a Pittsburgh City park. This porous surface allows for water to seep into the ground, meaning less runoff and less flooding. And given the month of thunderstorms, heavy rainfall, and flooding, it was fitting that I took part in the opening of the new entryway at McKinley Park. Not only does this new redesigned entryway do its part to combat the major flooding issue for South Pittsburgh, but it looks amazing and restores a significant piece of the community jewel that the park is.
The grand entryway to McKinley Park was built during President Franklin Roosevelt’s Works Progress Administration era, and generations have been gathering there since: family picnics, prom pictures, and holidays have been celebrated there for years. For a time, McKinley Park fell into disrepair, but through partnerships with the Parks Conservancy, the City’s Public Works Department, State Representative Jake Wheatley, State Senator Wayne Fontana, and Beltzhoover neighborhood groups, we’ve brought it back. McKinley Park rivals any other City park in natural beauty, and piece by piece we’re restoring it to its former glory.
And just because I’m a history nerd--when my office and I were doing research on McKinley Park, we came across the fascinating story of the 18th Ward Club. Beltzhoover was home to the City’s longest-running black sandlot baseball team, playing thirty-three consecutive seasons. Read more about this in this Google Books snippet from Sandlot Seasons: Sport in Black Pittsburgh by Rob Ruck.
As mentioned in May's newsletter, Fairhaven Church is making its way to be official historic designation! A public hearing has been scheduled to take place here in Council Chambers on Tuesday, September 10 at 1:00 p.m. If you'd like more information, feel free to call my office at 412.255.2131. To register to speak at the public hearing, contact the Council Clerks' Office at 412.255.2138. Read Rich Cummings' fabulous history of the church at this link.
Though I grew up only a couple miles away from Charlie’s home in Mount Washington, I first met Dr. McCollester in Poznań, Poland in 2002, when I was visiting family and he was teaching at Adam Mickiewicz University. This speaks to the wide breadth of Charlie's life experience. Dr. Charles McCollester is Pittsburgh's true Renaissance Man and champion of all working people, and on July 2 I was thrilled to meet his family and honor his life's work in Council where we issued him a proclamation. Read all about it here!
National and local news stories remind us that physical violence is unfortunately a fact of life. But groups like the Black Women for Positive Change are speaking out about it. August 22 has been declared Black Women for Positive Change’s National Day of Non-Violence, and they plan a summit in Washington D.C. to bring together faith leaders, elected officials, and community leaders to discuss non-violence and social change--this year being the 50th anniversary of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s March on Washington. Read our proclamation here.
Bernadette Koval of the Pennsylvania Federation of Business and Professional Women reached out to me in advance of their 2013 convention, taking place on July 27. The BPW supports legislative reforms that work to advance issues of women’s equality, be it for equal opportunity in high school athletics, advocacy for women’s health issues, domestic violence activism and awareness, and pay equity. This year’s BPW convention is featuring Judy Bannon of Cribs for Kids, Regina Koetters of Marty’s Market, and more. Read the proclamation here.
“Most Livable City.” It’s a designation that we often hear about Pittsburgh. And when we talk about being, and maintaining, a most livable city, part of that is attracting young families to our City and region. This means considering out littlest Pittsburghers--especially when they need their diapers changed.
Moms, dads, grandparents, stepparents, and guardians of all kinds should have equal access to facilities, and baby changing tables in both men’s and women’s restrooms in all City-owned properties should be a basic, assured amenity. Senior centers, swimming pools and rec centers, and even the City-County building downtown are places where families with babies often go, and if there isn’t appropriate accommodation for changing a diaper, what else could a parent or guardian do? Though they’re somewhat common in women’s restrooms, very few men’s restrooms are equipped with them, making it logistically difficult for a father or any other male guardian to adequately care for his child.
Currently, baby changing tables aren’t required by state or federal law. The legislation that I’ve put forward for the City will require changing tables in both women’s and men’s restrooms in City buildings. It’s one small step, and hopefully one that will make our City a more welcoming place for families.
We did it! In last month's newsletter I told you about Pennsylvania Senate bill 975, which would have reintroduced payday lending with the possibility of APRs as high as 300% back into the commonwealth of Pennsylvania. Lobbying in favor of the bill was fierce, and its supporters in the Senate attempted several maneuvers to gather the necessary votes. But with your help, the bill didn't have enough support to become law. Word is that several Senators cited constituent response as one of the reasons they ultimately voted "no" on this bill. And so thanks to you who wrote letters, made phone calls, visited legislators, and traveled to Harrisburg. Because of you, predatory loans remain illegal in Pennsylvania.
The simple truth is that the more eyes there are on a street, the safer the neighborhood is. Blocks where neighbors know each other, sharing a friendly hello when we pass each other, are blocks that are safer from the potential of criminal activity.
Tuesday, August 6 is National Night Out Against Crime, a program that has been running since 1984 on the principle that a unified community can protect itself and continue to ensure that it's a nice, safe place to live. This year, the City of Pittsburgh can help you plan your own impromptu Night Out event. Register your group and get handy templates and suggestions.
We've received word of several of these events taking place across District 4--see below. Let my office know if your block is organizing its own, and we can help publicize it!
Reconstruction work in the Liberty Tunnels continues through the summer, and unfortunately that means more detours. This time, the southbound tunnel will be closed around the clock, 24 hours, for July 26 through August 12. The tube closes up at 10:00 p.m. on July 26 and will reopen at 6:00 a.m., ready for the morning rush hour, on August 12.
While this is happening, PennDOT has offered this detour route for people heading southbound:
Right onto PJ McArdle Roadway; straight onto Merrimac Street to Woodruff Street; left onto Route 51/19 and follow through to Route 19 (West Liberty).
And the northbound tunnel continues to be closed overnight from 10:00 p.m. to 6:00 a.m. The work is slated to end this fall--just a few more months!
It’s once again time for the Carrick-Overbrook Cornfest! Taking place from 12:00 noon to 6:00 p.m. on Saturday, August 17, come out to Phillips Park for a day of family activities, food, and local entertainment--including the Carrick High School Band, Bhutanese community dancers, the Shovin Irish dancers, The Seams, Cathasaigh, and bands from CAPA.
It's a common refrain: the nightlife scene on the South Side regularly draws Zone 3 police resources on Friday and Saturday nights away from much-needed patrols in our neighborhoods, diverting them instead to Carson Street.
City Council and the police have begun a new program designed to change the dynamics of Carson Street on the weekends. By adding on-foot patrols, with extra officers paid for by local businesses instead of the taxpayers, the police are in the midst of creating a cultural shift, redefining behavior on the streets of the Flats. The South Side Responsible Policing Program began in early July and the Zone 3 police are expecting the program to become even more efficient through August and September. And so over the next few months, the Hilltop and South Pittsburgh neighborhoods should see their police patrols more noticeably present on weekend evenings. This is just one piece in the larger Responsible Hospitality Plan that is beginning to reimagine the South Side and other neighborhoods with popular nightlife scenes.
Speak up! The future of Brookline is up to us. Visit OurBrookline.com to share your ideas, take the surveys, chat with your friends, and promote the neighborhood--all while earning some local business prizes!
And the next opportunity to take part in Brookline's identity visioning community workshops is on Thursday, July 25 at 7:00 p.m. at St. Mark's Evangelical Lutheran Church at 933 Brookline Boulevard. This is an opportunity to come out and help to generate ideas for the future identity and vision of Brookline Boulevard. The meetings focus on the commercial district but also touch on the identity of the neighborhood at large in order to promote business growth and community improvement. The next tentative date after that is September 12. Thanks to EvolveEA, SPDC, Design Center, and the City's URA and City Planning Department for making this possible. For more information, feel free to call my office at 412.255.2131 and we can put you in touch with the team leading these workshops.
Thanks to Community Leaders United for Beechview (CLUB), the Beechview Community Garden has been selected to receive a $1,000 Love Your Block Grant for the fall 2013 season from the City of Pittsburgh!
The funds will be used to plant the hillside between the fences with perennials and flower bushes. This work is scheduled to be done between August 31 and October 31. Interested in volunteering, or learning more about the Community Garden? Check out the Beechview Community Garden's Facebook page or call my office at 412.255.2131.
In addition to CLUB, thanks go out to Beechwood Elementary School and principal Sally Rifugiato.
Did you know--Saw Mill Run Boulevard is home to a new community garden? The Overbrook Community Council has worked with Women for a Healthy Environment, Columbia Gas, Stewart Avenue Lutheran Church, the Carrick Community Council, and my office to create Firehouse Farm, a community garden located next to the Accamando Center at 2506 Saw Mill Run Blvd. Initiated last year, it was first tilled and framed by high school students
But a garden is only as good as its gardeners. The Overbrook Community Council put out a call for volunteers to plant, weed, and tend the vegetables, and a group of District 4 residents rose to the challenge: our Bhutanese refugee neighbors showed up throughout the growing season. Here’s a photo of some of the gardeners with their first harvest this year--mustard greens!
Lebanese, Mexican, Egyptian... and now Ghanaian! Brookline has been gaining attention recently for its diverse culinary offerings. In addition to the neighborhood's classic local establishments, this newer multicultural flavor is boosting Brookline Boulevard's profile and cementing it as a destination to shop, eat, and socialize.
A July 11 story from the Post-Gazette profiled Sani Musah, a Ghana native who opened up Daree Salam African Market at 944 Brookline Boulevard this past February. Though west African cuisine may seem daunting to some, check out the article for a choice quote from Brookline community member and Daree Salam customer Keith Knecht.
And speaking of African cuisine, Brookline’s Egyptian restaurant Isis Cafe is hosting a special four-course, candlelight dinner on July 27 from 8:00 to 11:00 p.m. planned by the Hovel, an artist collective dedicated to encouraging creativity in the community, including acoustic music to serenade you while you dine. Tickets are $30 each. For more information, contact Isis Cafe at 412.207.2485.
The 32rd annual Brookline Breeze will soon be upon us. But this year, we'll have two opportunities to enjoy Brookline!
On Saturday August 10, take part in the 5K run and fitness walk, which meets at Brookline Memorial Rec Center at 1399 Oakridge Street. To register, and learn more (including some history about the races), visit this website. Proceeds benefit the Brookline Area Food Bank, Meals on Wheels, Brookline Area Recreation programs, and Brookline Regional Catholic School.
And on Saturday September 21 from 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m., Brookline Boulevard welcomes you to the Autumn Breeze Fest, featuring food, arts and crafts, special sales from many businesses, and more. This fall celebration is sponsored by the Brookline Chamber of Commerce. For more information, contact email@example.com.
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.
Summer often means vacation and a break from school, but some South Pittsburgh schools are still staying active! Here is a bit of news regarding summertime and the Pittsburgh City Schools in District 4:
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.
Beechview Area Concerned Citizens & Beechview Block Watch
Brookline Block Watch
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.
Zero Waste Pittsburgh has announced a one-day collection for special material that can be reused by local non-profit organizations like the Animal Rescue League, Pittsburgh Center for Creative Reuse, and more. The collection will take place at the Goodwill Workforce Development Center at 118 52nd Street in Lawrenceville on Saturday, August 3 from 9:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. See below for items that will be accepted:
If you have any questions about the event or acceptable donation items, call 412.488.7490 x236.
On two dates this summer, you can finally get rid of those aerosol cans, paint cans, printer cartridges, and TV and computer equipment!
On Saturday, July 27 from 9:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. in the Second Avenue Parking lot, you can drop off items like aerosol cans, automotive fluid, CFL bulbs, paint products, and more. The cost is $2 per gallon, cash only. Check out the flyer for more information.
And on Saturday, August 17 from 9:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. at 3001 Railroad Street, bring your old TVs, computers, stereos, printer cartridges, telephone, small appliances, and CFL bulbs to recycle for free. Batteries, fluorescent tubes, small freon-containing appliances, and paper shredding services are offered with some small fees. More information can be found on this flyer.
For more information, visit this page or call 412.488.7490 x243.
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.
The future of the American industry is diversified and sustainable. Green Mountain Energy has donated solar energy systems to almost 50 non-profits across the country, installed 550 kilowatts of solar power, and prevented more than 850,000 pounds of carbon dioxide entering the atmosphere since 2002. Now, they’re interested in finding a non-profit locally to donate solar power outfitting for 2014! To learn more, and to apply for the donation, visit this website.
Do you drive? Then you're qualified to help PennDOT with an online survey about several issues concerning driving--seatbelt use, cell phone use, impaired driving, and more. Click here to take the quick survey.
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.
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, 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 email@example.com or call my office at 412.255.2131.
Angels’ Place is a non-profit comprehensive family support agency serving single, low-income, full-time student parents and their children from birth until the age of 5. Located in Brookline at 600 Fordham Avenue, they’re a great service for our community, and I’ve been lucky enough to take a tour and meet the folks who serve South Pittsburgh.
Posted early this month, Angels’ Place is hiring a full-time teacher for the Brookline center. The ideal candidate would have a Bachelor’s degree in early childhood education or related field, plus experience working with at-risk families. Benefits package available; clearances required. To learn more about Angels’ Place and to download an application visit their website. To apply, send resume and cover letter to Beth at:
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 Identity Visioning meeting #2
Hard-to-recycle items collection
The Hovel and Isis Cafe’s candlelight dinner
Carrick’s Second Annual Communities Against Crime Block Party
Bike/Pedestrian Committee meeting
ReuseFest Materials Collection
Kirk Avenue Community Night Out
Carrick-Overbrook Block Watch meeting
Bon Air National Night Out
Beechview Night Out Against Crime
Woodbourne Avenue National Night Out
32nd Annual Brookline Breeze 5K
Mt. Washington Community Forum
Hard-to-recycle items collection
Carrick Tree Tending
Zone 3 Public Safety meeting
Brookline Autumn Breeze Fest
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.