City of Pittsburgh Council District 4
District 4 Newsletter | February 2013
Happy Presidents' Day!
 
In This Issue...
 
District 4 News
Working to make South Pittsburgh a better place, every day
Good news you don't hear on the news
URA application for 1601 and 1602 Broadway Avenue
A call to the state for better transportation funding
Pennsylvania House Democratic Policy Committee meeting on transportation funding
Need help preparing your taxes this year?
Brookline Boulevard Improvement Project
Brookline Adopt-A-Block
Taste of Brookline tickets on sale
Live, shop, or work along Brownsville Road? Share your opinion!
iCanConnect offers free distance communication equipment for eligible deaf-blind individuals 
Veterans: do you need exterior house repair or maintenance help?
Carrick Athletic Association registration for baseball and softball
Does your community group need speakers?
Computer classes at Carrick High School
Heating assistance for low-income homes
Block watches work!
Feedback needed for Online MOVEPGH Project Prioritization Map
 
 
Help, Work, Donate, Volunteer
South Hills Middle School looking for volunteers
Snow Angel Volunteers Needed
Citizens Against Litter coordinating “Spring Redd Up” clean-up event
Want to organize a spring redd-up in your neighborhood?
Citiparks recruiting lifeguards for summer 2013
Citiparks BIG League Sports will need seasonal employees
Employment opportunities with the City of Pittsburgh
Western Pennsylvania Humane Society seeks donations
St. John Vianney Food Bank needs donations
Meals on Wheels needs drivers and kitchen help
Lend a hand to the library--become a friend of the Beechview library
 
 
Events
 
 
 
 
District 4 News
 
Working to make South Pittsburgh a better place, every day
Mental health affects all of us--one in four people experience a mental or neurological disorder at some point in their lives, and that has an impact not just on them, but also on their family, friends, and neighborhoods. On February 5, Councilwoman Kail-Smith and I convened a hearing to learn more about mental health services and issues in our City. It was a very interesting session, and we engaged with attendees from many organizations and authorities who work with the mentally ill and are interested in making their services more well known. To watch this post-agenda hearing, click here. If you or anyone you know is interested in learning more about mental health services, or if you are worried about yourself or your family members or neighbors, contact the National Alliance on Mental Illness (or NAMI) helpline at 412.366.3788. Another resource is the Western Psych Crisis Center, whose phone number is 1.888.796.8226.
Many of our senior neighbors and family members choose to downsize when they find they can no longer keep up with the maintenance of a large home. But instead of leaving the neighborhood, they have a strong desire to stay in the community in which they've lived for years. So I took a tour of the Overbrook School building with the Route 51 Corridor Committee, which includes folks from Penn-DOT, Port Authority, developers, and local community groups, to get a sense of a proposed redevelopment that imagines a senior living high-rise that would include over 70 assisted living apartments in addition to a proposed four-story 50-unit senior apartment building. What would be created is basically a senior living campus including, among other things, a cafeteria, a beauty salon, common spaces, and a parking lot. A new footbridge would connect to a transit stop to allow senior quick access to travel to shopping, downtown, or sports games on the North Shore. We're working with NRP Group, one of the nation's largest builders of affordable housing, along with Economic Development South. This development team has applied for tax credits from the state, and in April we'll find out about that application. I've been supportive of this project--all told, it would bring $25 million of investment to the area and create over 120 jobs right in our backyard--a win-win for the community at large! Not only would it be a fantastic development for Route 51; it would also serve as a catalyst for further redevelopment and growth.
Checking in on the great work that Economic Development South has been doing in Carrick and Overbrook, I met with Greg Jones and Steph Miller from Economic Development South to discuss a number of different projects, including the Route 51/88 Transit Oriented Development project, the Dairy District around Colteryahn Dairy, Brownsville Road business district development (including facade grant programming for eligible businesses and general building renovations for the 2600 block of Brownsville Road), Saw Mill Run clean-up projects, and general branding strategies for our communities.
I love hanging out with our senior neighbors--and this month I've been spending time visiting with residents of our senior centers across the district. Some issues that they have been raising to me are their concern with Governor Corbett's privatization of our state lottery and the continued erosion of our transit system. For example, when I visited a senior center in Mount Washington, I was told that half as many people come to their events because bus lines have been cut. Seniors in Brookline are concerned with the lack of Red Bus or other transit options for them to go to doctor's appointments, grocery stores, etc. But one piece of information my staff and I learned from a Brookline Area Concerned Citizens meeting is that there's an awesome program called Open Your Heart to a Senior that pairs seniors who need a ride and volunteers who can give that to them. Check out their website to learn more.
I attended a meeting with local elected representatives of the Carnegie Library Board of Trustees, Councilman Bruce Kraus, and State Senator Jay Costa to discuss finding an adequate location for a potential new $4-7 million Carrick-Knoxville Library branch. This building would have quite a large footprint, including its parking, and current vacant parcels along Brownsville Road aren't necessarily large enough to encompass this. We are trying to be creative in looking for a solution.
With my mind of bringing economic development to District 4, my chief of staff Ashleigh Deemer and I attended the SMC Business Councils' legislative reception this month. We met with various manufacturers and other elected officials to discuss concerns that small businesses in our district have--and also how to draw more to District 4.
Members of my staff met with GTECH Strategies to discuss exploring possibilities of green infrastructure in South Pittsburgh and met with the Assistant D.A. to talk about nuisance properties in Carrick.
And all the rest... A pancake breakfast for Eagle Scout Joe Rogers at the Church of the Resurrection in Brookline... A meeting with State Representative Erin Molchany and State Senator Wayne Fontana to discuss working together on South Pittsburgh projects... A ride-along through Carrick, Overbrook, Bon Air, and Brookline with our Division 4 Public Works supervisor during one of our recent snowstorms (note--be nice to our snow plow workers! And a reminder that when you're shoveling your sidewalk, don't dump the snow in the street!)... A meeting with a couple of developers interested in projects in South Pittsburgh... A meeting with Carey Harris from A+ Schools to discuss the state of education in District 4... A series of local community meetings.
Good news you don't hear on the news
This month I welcomed the Pittsburgh Poetry Collective's newest group, Young Steel, into Council to lead us in the pledge of allegiance and then receive a proclamation for their work. Young Steel is a program for poets between the ages of 13 and 19 that started in January 2012 and competes every last Saturday of the month at Cannon Coffee on Brookline Boulevard. They compete in poetry slams, which is an event where poets perform their work, and then the audience members judge them, giving them a numerical score based on the content of their poems and their performances. Three members of Young Steel read their poems to us in Council Chambers--it was a real treat! 
 
Also, have you heard the news about Casa Rasta? This Caribbean-Mexican restaurant formerly at 2102 Broadway Avenue in Beechview has recently moved into a larger space, just a couple doors down at 2056 Broadway Avenue. They're expanding their menu and growing into a bigger space, and the word is that they're going to be opening a vegetarian/vegan restaurant in their old space--keep an eye out!
 
And Isis Cafe at 815 Brookline Boulevard is turning heads (see here and here) for their authentic, tasty Egyptian cuisine. Alex from my staff went recently and recommends their baba ghanouj!
 
URA application for 1601 and 1602 Broadway Avenue
The folks at the URA have high hopes for an application they've submitted to the state's Department of Community & Economic Development for additional funding for completing the projects at 1601 and 1602 Broadway Avenue in Beechview. Stay tuned!
 
A call to the state for better transportation funding
We in South Pittsburgh have come to rely on good access to public transportation. We depend on our buses and trains to get us to and from school, work, doctor's appointments, the grocery store--you name it. So on January 22, I joined with labor unions, environmentalists, community groups, and others to present what's called a "will of council." This is a document that puts forward a statement made by the City Council and, though it doesn't have the ability to legislate or change policy on its own, it sends a message that it is something we would like to fight for. The will of council that I wrote, and which passed Council on January 22, calls on the state legislature and the governor to support a robust transportation agenda. Far too often, our transportation funding is threatened with drastic cuts, and always at the eleventh hour, some form of rescue comes in and we are saved temporarily. But what we truly need is a permanent, dedicated plan to maintain and expand public transportation. You can read the document that we presented at this link. To get active with Pittsburghers for Public Transit, a grassroots organization that is putting pressure on the state level, check out their website.
 
Pennsylvania House Democratic Policy Committee meeting on transportation funding
District 22 State Representative Erin C. Molchany will be hosting a meeting of the Pennsylvania House Democratic Policy Committee on the vital issue of transportation funding. The hearing is scheduled for 1:00 p.m., Wednesday, February 20th, 2013, at the Sheraton Station Square Hotel. This hearing is intended to be an opportunity for Democratic House members from across the Commonwealth to gain perspective on the need for a comprehensive state-wide funding solution that includes maintenance of our roads and bridges and reliable support for mass transit systems. While the time available for in-person testimony is limited, individuals are encouraged to attend the hearing and to submit written testimony on behalf of their organization. Please RSVP and submit written testimony by Friday, February 15 to repmolchany@pahouse.net. Should you have any questions, please contact Lou Takacs at (412) 343-2094 or loutakacs@pahouse.net.
 
Need help preparing your taxes this year?
Federal, state, and local income taxes are due on April 17 this year, and if you qualify for a refund, the sooner you get your tax documents in the mail, the sooner you could receive it! For those who may not be able to do their taxes on their own, the City of Pittsburgh and local partners are providing a free resource to help with tax preparation.
 
It’s called Volunteer Income Tax Assistance, or VITA, an IRS program offered to the elderly, disabled individuals, or low and moderate income households (those earning less than $49,000 a year) to offer free tax preparation services for federal and state taxes, as well as rent and property rebates. VITA services will be offered downtown on the second floor of the City County Building between the hours of 8:00 AM and 3:00 PM, Monday through Friday beginning on February 4th. VITA will only help prepare one tax return per person, and when you come in for help you must bring a social security card for every person listed on the tax return. Walk-ins are welcome for this service. For more information on this program, call my office at (412) 255-2131.
 
You can also make arrangements for free tax preparation through the United Way’s Money In Your Pocket Coalition. If you are an individual who makes up to $20,000, or a household that makes up to $40,000, you can make an appointment for free assistance with your tax preparation. Last year, the United Way and its partner organizations, including Just Harvest, YMCA, Allegheny County, and others, helped to prepare more than 6,000 tax returns, delivering $10.6 million in tax refunds to Allegheny County residents. To make an appointment at one of their locations, or to learn more, call (412) 255-1155 or 2-1-1. There are locations downtown and across the city, including the Federal Building, Downtown YMCA, or the Carnegie Library in Squirrel Hill.
 
There is a lot of additional information about tax assistance at the Carnegie Library website: http://www.carnegielibrary.org/research/business/taxes.html.  As always, please don’t hesitate to contact my office about this or any other issue at (412) 255-2131.
 
Brookline Boulevard Improvement Project
We're inching closer to a fresh, new Brookline Boulevard! Reconstruction is due to start in early spring 2013, and access to businesses will remain open throughout the project. Though we'll be in the midst of lots of construction for a little while, it'll all be worth it in the end. Check out the progress of the reconstruction at their website. And don't forget to continue to shop local--our businesses will need your help during this time more than ever!
 
Brookline Adopt-A-Block
Concerned with garbage and the overall aesthetic condition of your block? Why not adopt it? To add your name to the map of adopted blocks, contact Pamela Grabowski at mnp.grabowski@verizon.net, call her at 412-343-2859, or write to The Brookline, P.O. Box 96136, Pittsburgh, PA 15226.
 
Taste of Brookline tickets on sale
Springtime is almost here... and with it, the 2013 Taste of Brookline! Just like last year, the folks at Taste of Brookline, and all the participating businesses, will bring you local food, drink, music, and camaraderie. This year it will take place on April 28th between 2-5pm at the Church of the Resurrection gymnasium, 1100 Creedmoor Ave. Follow their updates on Facebook as the planning continues. Tickets are $30 and are available online at their website and at the following locations:
 
A-Boss Optical
938 Brookline Boulevard
Pittsburgh, PA 15226
(412) 561-0811
 
Cannon Coffee
802 Brookline Boulevard
Pittsburgh, PA 15226
(412) 563-0202
 
Kribel's Bakery
546 Brookline Boulevard
Pittsburgh, PA 15226
(412) 531-1942
 
Live, shop, or work along Brownsville Road? Share your opinion!
One concern that my office is focused on is public safety along the Brownsville Road corridor. To that end, we are working with the Carrick-Overbook Block Watch and the Community Technical Assistance Center (CTAC) to conduct a public safety assessment of Brownsville Road. CTAC wants feedback from you about what the biggest public safety concerns on Brownsville are.  The information you provide will help us target investments in lighting, cameras, and streetscape improvements to make the corridor more inviting to businesses and residents. Complete the survey at this link.
 
iCanConnect offers free distance communication equipment for eligible deaf-blind individuals 
The iCanConnect Program offers free distance communication equipment for people who are both deaf and blind and meet the income eligibility criteria. Visit http://www.icanconnect.org/ or call 1.800.825.4595 to learn more about the program.
 
Veterans: do you need exterior house repair or maintenance help?
Habitat for Humanity of Greater Pittsburgh is seeking veterans and their families who could benefit from outdoor maintenance and exterior home repairs. If you need back yard debris removal, tree and bush trimming, yard landscaping, gutter and roof cleaning, lawn mowing, or paint touch ups and you own your home, have homeowner’s insurance, fit Habitat for Humanity’s income guideline, and are able to make a small monthly payment, which may be subsidized, you may apply! Contact Jeremy Martin at jmartin@pittsburghhabitat.org or at 412.351.0512 ext. 11 to get more information about Habitat for Humanity’s Veteran Housing Initiative, where they’re serving those who’ve served our country.
 
Carrick Athletic Association registration for baseball and softball
The 2013 baseball and softball season is coming up soon--registration for boys and girls ages 4-19 is at the Phillips Park Rec Center in Carrick on these dates:
 
Saturday, February 23rd from 10 a.m. - 2 p.m.
Saturday, March 9th from 10 a.m. - 2 p.m.
Saturday, March 23rd from 10 a.m. - 2 p.m.
 
Does your community group need speakers?
If your community organization is interested in hosting a Citizen Police Review Board meeting or would like a speaker from the CPRB to hold a presentation, contact Ms. Carolyn Gaskin at 412.765.8023. The CPRB is an independent review board created by voter referendum that investigates citizen complaints about improper police conduct. The CPRB is made up of seven unpaid members who are appointed by City Council and the Mayor.
 
City of Pittsburgh Department of Animal Control has graciously offered their staff as a resource for community organizations in our area who would like to learn more about the Animal Control program. To invite a staffer to speak at your meeting, contact Supervisor Gerald Akrie at 412.255.2036.
 
Computer classes at Carrick High School
Looking for something to do on Saturday afternoons? Need help with anything computer related? Call and reserve your spot! 412-885-7700.
 
Heating assistance for low-income homes
Do you or someone in your neighborhood need help with your heating bills this winter? The Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) helps low-income families pay their heating bills. It offers assistance in the form of a cash grant sent directly to the utility company. Here’s their brochure for more information. You can apply online here, or contact the LIHEAP hotline at 1.866.857.7095 (or 1.800.451.5886).
 
Block watches work!
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.
 
Carrick-Overbrook Block Watch
Monday, March 4, 2012, 7:00 p.m. at Concord Elementary (2350 Brownsville Rd)
 
Beechview Area Concerned Citizens & Beechview Block Watch
Thursday, March 7, 7:00 p.m. & 8:00 p.m. at Beechview United Presbyterian Church (1621 Broadway Ave)
 
Brookline Block Watch
Tuesday, March 12, 7:00 p.m. at Judge Jim Motznik's Office (736 Brookline Blvd)
(monthly on the second Tuesday)
 
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 (pdf) here.
 
Feedback needed for Online MOVEPGH Project Prioritization Map
The complete MOVEPGH project list for the City of Pittsburgh is now available online. MOVEPGH has gathered all proposed transportation projects for the city of Pittsburgh into a single map. These projects have been scored and ranked based on transportation modeling software that's been geared to Pittsburgh's unique needs by the MOVEPGH consultant team. MOVEPGH now needs help from residents to tell them what they got right and what they got wrong. Please visit the MOVEPGH website to locate projects, see how they ranked, and most importantly, to provide your input!
 
 
 Help, Work, Donate, Volunteer
 
 
South Hills Middle School looking for volunteers
South Hills Middle School is interested in having community members come to the school, located at 595 Crane Avenue, to assist with hall monitoring, cafeteria duty, students in the classroom, and clerical duties on a volunteer basis. Those interested in volunteering for work directly with children will have to acquire clearances, which will be paid for through the PTO. For more information, contact Carol Senft at csenft1@pghboe.net.
 
Snow Angel Volunteers Needed
The Snow Angel program is off to a good start for 2013. So far, 55 volunteers have been 
matched with 99 requests. There are currently 240 unmatched service requests throughout Pittsburgh. If you would like to become a Snow Angel, or you think you’ll need help with snow removal this winter, call the 311 response line or visit their website.
 
Citizens Against Litter coordinating “Spring Redd Up” clean-up event
It’s almost spring cleaning season! The Pittsburgh-based organization Citizens Against Litter will he holding a Spring Redd Up clean-up event on Saturday April 20, 2013. Citizens Against Litter hopes to recruit 15,000 volunteers to clean up trash throughout 200 neighborhoods for this event. Communities/groups and individuals interested in participating as volunteers are asked to contact Citizens Against Litter who will put them in touch with neighborhood Clean Pittsburgh Stewards. Contact boris.weinstein@verizon.net or call 412-688-9120.
 
Want to organize a spring redd-up in your neighborhood?
As part of the Great American Clean-Up, Allegheny CleanWays will provide you the resources you need to throw a spring clean-up in your neighborhood! Materials include gloves, bags, and safety materials. Allegheny CleanWays will also hold workshops on how to organize a spring clean-up. For a schedule of workshops, and to register, go to their website or call Allegheny CleanWays at 412.381.1301. For more information about the Great PA Clean-Up, go to www.greatpacleanup.org.
 
Citiparks recruiting lifeguards for summer 2013
The Citiparks Aquatics Division is looking for lifeguards for this year’s summer season. If you know someone who is certified, or interested in obtaining certification, to work for Citiparks, contact the Aquatics Division Office at 412.323.7928.
 
Citiparks BIG League Sports will need seasonal employees
The summer baseball/softball season will soon be upon us, and Citiparks is looking for seasonal employees for May-August! Applicants must live in the City, have a driver’s license, be available on weekends and evenings (30-40 hours a week), and receive their child abuse and criminal clearances. The positions are for monitors, whose tasks will be to keep score, interpret the rules as situations arise, do daily field preparations, and some light office work. If interested, call the BIG League office at 412.488.8585 or send your resume to michelle.aul@pittsburghpa.gov.
 
Employment opportunities with the City of Pittsburgh
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.
 
Western Pennsylvania Humane Society seeks donations
A resident of South Pittsburgh who works at the Western Pennsylvania Humane Society on the North Side is requesting any dog food (canned and dry) that can be donated--they are in dire need. Please consider dropping off these donations at 1101 Western Avenue to help keep their dogs alive and healthy until they can find a forever home.
 
St. John Vianney Food Bank needs donations
If you’re interested in helping out the St. John Vianney food bank, or are interested in making donations or volunteering, please contact the St. John Vianney Ladies of Charity at ladiesofcharity@sjvpgh.org or 412.381.8300. St. John Vianney Parish Center is located at 823 Climax Street.
 
Meals on Wheels needs drivers and kitchen help
The Carrick, Beechview, Hilltop/Mt. Washington, and Arlington 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.
 
Carrick: For an application, call the kitchen at 412.881.0990 between 8:00 a.m. and Noon or stop by the kitchen at Concord Presbyterian Church (1907 Brownsville Rd.) from 8:30 a.m. to Noon.
 
Beechview: The Beechview Meals on Wheels kitchen is at St. Pamphilus Church (1000 Tropical Ave., 15216). To get involved, call 412.343.5455.
 
Hilltop/Mt. Washington: Including Allentown and Beltzhoover, the Hilltop/Mt. Washington Meals on Wheels kitchen is located at 631 E. Warrington Ave. Please call 412.481.1434.
 
Arlington: Serving the communities of Arlington, Mt. Oliver, Bon Air, and the Southside Slopes. Located at the Henry Kaufman Center at 2201 Salisbury Street. Please call 412.381.7727.
 
Lend a hand to the library--become a friend of the Beechview library
Now it’s your turn to shine: Consider becoming a member of the Friends of the Beechview Library, a community organization focused on supporting the efforts of the Beechview Library. In the past, they’ve organized flower and book sales, held an antique appraisal fair, and threw raffles, all dedicated to funding library programming for children and teens. To learn more about becoming a member, call 412.563.2900.
 
 
Events
 
South Pittsburgh Development Corporation (SPDC) Meeting
Monday, February 18, 7:00 p.m. at the Brookline United Presbyterian Church (1036 Brookline Blvd)
 
Zone 3 Police Public Safety Meeting
Wednesday, February 20, 6:00 p.m. at the Zone 3 Police Station (830 E. Warrington Ave)
 
Mount Washington CDC Community Forum
Thursday, February 21, 7:00 p.m. at Mt. Washington Senior Center (122 Virginia Ave)
 
Brookline Area Community Council
Monday, February 25, 7:00 p.m. at St. Mark’s Evangelical Lutheran Church (933 Brookline Blvd)
 
Overbrook Community Council Meeting
Tuesday, February 22, 7:00 p.m. at the Overbrook Firehouse/Accamando Center (Rt. 51 across from Maytide)
 
Beechview Merchants Association Meeting
Wednesday, February 27, 7:00 p.m. at the Beechview Merchants Association Office (1553 Broadway Ave)
 
Carrick-Overbrook Block Watch
Monday, March 4, 2012, 7:00 p.m. at Concord Elementary (2350 Brownsville Rd)
 
Beechview Area Concerned Citizens & Beechview Block Watch
Thursday, March 7, 7:00 p.m. & 8:00 p.m. at Beechview United Presbyterian Church (1621 Broadway Ave)
 
Brookline Chamber of Commerce Meeting
Monday, March 11, 5:45 p.m. at CLP Brookline (708 Brookline Boulevard)
 
Brookline Block Watch
Tuesday, March 12, 7:00 p.m. at Judge Jim Motznik's Office (736 Brookline Blvd)
 
Carrick Community Council Quarterly Public Meeting
Wednesday, March 13, 7:00 p.m. at Concord Elementary (2350 Brownsville Rd)
 
South Pittsburgh Development Corporation (SPDC) Meeting
Monday, March 18, 7:00 p.m. at the Brookline United Presbyterian Church (1036 Brookline Blvd)
 
Zone 3 Police Public Safety Meeting
Wednesday, March 20, 6:00 p.m. at Zone 3 Police Station (830 E. Warrington Ave)
 
 
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.
Published:
Monday, February 18, 2013
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