City of Pittsburgh Council District 4
District 4 Newsletter | September 2013
Coal mines, construction updates... and zombies

In this issue...

DISTRICT 4 NEWS

Working to make South Pittsburgh a better place, every day
Underneath our feet: protect yourself from mine subsidence in South Pittsburgh
Help shape Brookline's identity
Good news you don't hear on the news
Brookline is breezy
Brookline is busy
South Pittsburgh construction updates
Two of Beechview's finest recognized for their dedication
Beechview's library branch slated for building enhancements
An opportunity to advocate for area residents living with disabilities
A note from the Pittsburgh Public Schools
Block Watches work!

HELP, WORK, DONATE, VOLUNTEER

Seniors aged 60+ can receive free home safety resources
More assistance for seniors aged 60+
Carrick Tree Tenders welcome you to come out and play in the dirt!
Employment opportunities with the City of Pittsburgh
Meals on Wheels needs drivers and kitchen help

EVENTS


DISTRICT 4 NEWS

Working to make South Pittsburgh a better place, every day

  • At the end of July I had a chance to take part in this year's Young Elected Officials National Convening in Washington D.C. as Pennsylvania's newly named state director. The Young Elected Officials organization is a way for young electeds to meet each other, share ideas and policies, and collaborate on improving the districts we represent through economic development, tax reform, and more. With sessions titled "Ensuring a Sustainable Future," "Building a Healthy and Inclusive Society," "Defending Workers and Families," and "Expanding Democracy," it was a galvanizing conference that educated and inspired us to keep working to make our respective districts better places and to stand up for American values like fairness, education, and our shrinking middle class.
  • In last month's newsletter I talked about my baby changing table legislation. I'm thrilled by the response that's come with it--mothers, fathers, grandparents, and more have let me know that a baby changing table is a small but important amenity for their families. In early August, Council unanimously passed the legislation, and two days later, the Mayor officially signed it. I look forward to working with the City to roll out the facilities in the coming months and years.
  • State Rep. Erin Molchany and I visited the Beechview Manor senior center to talk about the work we've been doing and to hear from the residents. Thanks for having us!
  • My chief of staff Ashleigh and I had a fantastic time visiting all the Community Night Out events--from Beechview to Brookline to Carrick to Bon Air. We met business owners, educators, police officers and fire fighters, and everyone in between, all of them out with their neighbors to celebrate their community. Thank you to all of you who organize and attend block watches, host block parties, adopt a street to pick up litter, and serve your communities in myriad ways. You are the eyes on the street and you're doing important work in keeping our neighborhoods safe and stable.
  • Communications manager Adam Shuck attended Economic Development South's bike/pedestrian committee meeting in early August. Covering much of South Pittsburgh (both City and suburb), the committee is working to develop priorities and strategies for improving infrastructure for walkers, cyclists, and drivers. Call my office at 412.255.2131 if you're interested in getting involved, and stay tuned for more information about the committee's work.
  • Adam has also been working on small changes to our Council office website--check out our newest addition, District 4 in the News. Now you have another page to send to family and friends when you need to brag about South Pittsburgh!
  • Community relations manager Dan Barrett attended a meeting at the Mount Washington CDC with Councilmembers Kraus and Smith and the Zone 3 police to discuss City parks and dangerous or illegal activities that are happening in them. Hunting (whether with firearms or bows and arrows) and dirt bike riding in City parks are both against code, and it'll take City officials, the police, the state game commission, Public Works, and more to work together to address these issues. Please keep reporting violations that you see--call 911 or my office at 412.255.2131.
  • Two fantastic neighborhood events took place this August--the Brookline Breeze 5K and the Carrick-Overbrook Cornfest. Thanks to everyone who volunteered their time and energies. They were a blast!
  • We've welcomed a new City Planner, Joshua Lippert, who has been assigned to the South and West regions of the City. In District 4, that means Joshua will be Neighborhood Planner for Beechview, Brookline, Carrick, and Overbrook. Ashley Holloway will remain Neighborhood Planner for Bon Air. Josh brings a landscape architecture background to the job and is a native of South Pittsburgh. We look forward to working with him going forward!
  • And all the rest: a meeting with State Representative Dan Miller to discuss collaborating on South Pittsburgh initiatives... a meeting at Jewish Family & Children Services to discuss the challenges facing the immigrant and refugee community and how we can collaborate... Carrick High's ninth annual alumni luncheon (read more below in the newsletter)... an open house to learn about the work EDS is doing on the Brownsville Road corridor... our regular block watch and community organization meetings all across D4... and more!

Underneath our feet: protect yourself from mine subsidence in South Pittsburgh

Coal and coal mining are a large part of Pittsburgh's history, propelling our region to the forefront of industry for generations. First cropping up in the 1700s, coal mines were constructed all over South Pittsburgh in particular. In fact, what we know today as Mount Washington used to be called Coal Hill. By the beginning of the 19th century, coal became Pittsburgh's primary fuel source. And because of the way that coal was traditionally extracted, in which long tunnels and tracks were dug deep into the ground, many of our neighborhoods, and towns all across the region, now sit atop former mines.

In July, a 91 year old coal mine on Frederick Street in Mount Oliver collapsed after heavy rains, and over a dozen families suddenly found that their homes' foundations had moved beneath their feet, causing their houses to sink into the ground and crack. Utility companies stopped providing services like gas and electricity. At least five families were evacuated, and some have said that due to the severity of the damage done to their houses, they're deciding whether or not to even return home.

The Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection stepped in at that point, and they've contracted a company called Coastal Drilling East to fill the mine cavity with a mixture of sand and concrete--and this will take eight weeks and cost more than $1.3 million. So who pays for this? As Mount Oliver borough engineer Ruthanne Omer said to the Post-Gazette, "The companies who built the mines are long gone. Although the state will stabilize the ground, without mine subsidence insurance, the money to fix this is coming out of our residents' pockets."

You may be asking yourself, am I at risk for a potential mine subsidence? To answer that question, check out this map that the DEP put together that shows where undermining occurred in District 4.

As you can see, essentially all of District 4 was undermined, and so there will always be a potential risk for subsidence.

It's important for South Pittsburgh homeowners to consider acquiring mine subsidence insurance. For more information, log onto the state's DEP mine subsidence website. You can also speak to a DEP expert to find out about your potential risk and available insurance coverage--call 1.800.922.1678, Monday to Friday from 8:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. To speak with my office about these issues, or any others, call 412.255.2131 or send us a message through my website.

Help shape Brookline's identity

Speak up! The future of Brookline is up to us. Visit OurBrookline 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 workshops is on September 12 at 7:00 p.m. at St. Mark's Evangelical Lutheran Church at 933 Brookline Boulevard. Come out and help generate ideas for the future identity and vision of Brookline Boulevard. The meetings focus on the commercial distrrict but also touch on the identity of the neighborhood at large in order to promote business growth and community improvement.

Thanks to EvolveEA, SPDC, Design Center, the URA, and the 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.

Good news you don't hear on the news

Did you know that in Pennsylvania, in the year 2013, someone can be denied a mortgage, refused a hotel room, or fired from their job just because of who they are or whom they love? Pennsylvania is the only state in the northeast where a person's sexual orientation, gender identity, or gender expression can be used against them in a discriminatory manner without basic protections we as Americans have come to expect.  Councilman Kraus and I sponsored a pair of Wills of Council that put Pittsburgh City Council on the record as supporting equal treatment and equal rights for all people--no matter their sexual orientation or gender identity and expression.

In August I had a chance to attend a celebration for the Carrick High Alumni Association, which has been bringing together alumni and celebrating their achievements for 20 years. City Council issued a proclamation for Paul "Bucky" Harrison, who has devoted his time over the last couple decades to the Alumni Association, and August 11 was declared Paul "Bucky" Harrison Day in the City. Read the proclamation here. In addition, we celebrated the ninth annual class of distinguished alumni and teachers from Carrick High--learn more about these alumni (and former band director James Kraus)  in our proclamation here.

Brookline is breezy

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. Most of the construction work on the Boulevard will have been completed, so come out to visit our business district! This fall celebration is sponsored by the Brookline Chamber of Commerce, and if you're interested in participating as a vendor, contact Cannon Coffee or A-Boss Optician, or contact blvdbreezefest@hotmail.com.

Brookline is busy

Just like "Follow Fridays" on Twitter let users put forward recommendations for their followers, SPDC's Facebook page will be spotlighting a Brookline business or organization every Friday. Follow SPDC on Facebook to learn more about Brookline's history, residents, and businesses--and maybe scoop up a coupon or two in the process!

And if you don't already receive The Brookline, a monthly publication with an impressive array of news, event listings, and other happenings around Brookline, you're missing out! Join the Brookline Google group to sign up by email, or email Pam to request a subscription for delivery every month. Clint Burton's BrooklineConnection website has a fantastic archive of back issues. Dig in!

South Pittsburgh construction updates

There's a lot going on in District 4 in terms of development and construction, and they're all at various stages of completion:

  • The old Overbrook School is a beautiful, historic building, and Valcott Industries and the NRP Group are waiting to hear back on an application for federal tax credit assistance to redevelop the site as residences for senior citizens, with a comprehensive living campus. The concept, which includes on-site care and therapy services, allows for residents to live independently as long as they care to and, if needed, transition to assisted living without having to leave their homes, friends, and a familiar environment. We may be able to report further developments later into the fall as Valcott and NRP hear back about their funding. And--get this--did you know that a zombie movie was filmed in the school this past July? Local residents served as extras for a movie called The Other Side. Luckily, the building has since been cleared of any zombie presence and is safe for redevelopment. 
  • And the site of the former Giant Eagle on Brownsville Road by Stewart Avenue is still in the process of being turned into the Hillcrest Senior Residences. Community Builders, the organization leading the development, is still in the funding process, working with the state to close some gaps. This fall, they will be presenting their plans to the zoning board to get approval from the City. If all proceeds according to plan, construction should kick off in October of 2014, with a scheduled completion of late summer/early fall 2015. It's still a bit too early for interested residents to apply, but we'll keep you updated with the Community Builders' schedule.
  • There's a lot of activity happening at the Route 51/Route 88 intersection, as you may have noticed. Lane closures and restrictions are in place at the moment, and all of that work you're seeing is largely utility relocation. Penn American Water and Columbia Gas specifically have been working to relocate their utility lines, and they're getting close to completion. But the contractor JB Fay has also started work on the construction of the jug handle bridge, which is located behind the Rite Aid. In the next few weeks, you'll be noticing demolition of some existing structures in that area, which will make way for the construction of the new road lanes. If you have any questions about the construction, access or detours, or really anything regarding the 51/88 project, ACTA (the Airport Cooridor Transportation Association) has set up an information hotline for you. Simply call 412.533.4606 during business hours, and their crew will find answers for you. You should also feel free to contact my office at any time by calling 412.255.2131.
  • The Brookline Boulevard project is on schedule! Contractors are hoping to have the landscaping done sometime this fall; in the meantime, please don't let your dogs leave waste in the empty spaces--or anywhere, really. Hang in there, we're almost at the finish line, and please do continue to support our local businesses. Feel free to call us and we can put you in touch with the contractor should you have specific questions.
  • The war memorial at the corner of Parkfield Street and Spokane Avenue in Carrick (in between the Phillips Park Rec Center and Carrick High) is under some construction right now--specifically, the sidewalk and curb around the memorial are being repaired, thanks to the City's Public Works department.
  • Construction on Brookline Memorial Park's dek hockey rink started about two weeks ago. Using funds donated by the Penguins Foundation and labor from the City's DPW department, the state-of-the-art dek hockey rink project should be completed by the end of September--just in time for fall hockey season!

Two of Beechview's finest recognized for their dedication

Congratulations to Beechview residents Sue Pfeuffer and Phyllis Didiano, who were recently named recipients of the 2013 Jefferson Award for their dedication and service to their neighborhood! The Jefferson Award, known as the "Nobel Prize for volunteerism," was started in 1972 and named after Thomas Jefferson. Learn more about the award here

Sue and Phyllis are board members of the Friends of the Beechview Library and members of the Community Leaders United of Beechview (CLUB). For the past 20 years, they've lived on the same street in Beechview, and both have put countless hours in working to make Beechview better--from the weekly flea market, various community fundraisers, and community initiatives like the Beechview Area Concerned Citizens and the Night Out Against Crime. Check out this piece that the Post-Gazette posted about Sue and Phyllis to learn more. Congratulations! 

Beechview's library branch slated for building enhancements

As I mentioned briefly in last month's newsletter, the Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh's Beechview branch is on deck for building improvements. Planning for these enhancements will begin this fall, with the renovations scheduled to be completed by the end of 2014. Stay tuned for announcements for community meetings so you can learn more about the process and share your input.

An opportunity to advocate for area residents living with disabilities

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 richard.meritzer@pittsburghpa.gov. The deadline to apply is noon on August 31, 2013.

A note from the Pittsburgh Public Schools

Pittsburgh Public Schools open on August 26, and there are lots of new faces around South Pittsburgh. This month's dispatch:

  • South Brook Middle is welcoming Jennifer McNamara as principal. Jennifer is a Pittsburgh Public Schools graduate. She has spent years working in schools on the North Side. At her side at South Brook Middle, please welcome assistant principal Ashley Porter, who is coming to Pittsburgh from Moon Area High School. Former princpal Gina Reichert has taken a position at Pittsburgh Gifted Center.
  • Pittsburgh Brookline PreK-8 is welcoming Alfonzo DeIuliis as their new principal and Matthew May as assistant principal, who left South Brook Middle. Both leaders are looking forward to meeting the community at their kick-off on August 27 from 5:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m.
  • South Hills Middle is welcoming Jacqueline Y. Hale as their new principal and Anthony Varlotta as assistant principal. Both are bringing a wealth of experience, and they'll be meeting the community at their kick-off on August 28 from 5:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m.
  • West Liberty Elementary is welcoming their new principal Deone Arrington who, along with her PTO president Jodie Andrews, is eager to institute new, exciting things for the school's 12th anniversary.
  • At Concord Elementary, Principal Jessica Colbert is proud of their collaboration with the Greater Pittsburgh Literacy Council. The school will host adult literacy classes two nights a week starting this fall. How about that--learning isn't just for the young!
  • Carmalt Academy of Science and Technology just finished a week of Kindergarten camp to help kids transition into the school experience. Principal Dr. Sandra Och is looking forward to meeting her 600 parents at their annual Ice Cream Social on August 29 from 5:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m.  

What are your thoughts about Pittsburgh Public Schools? PPS wants to know! Superintendent Linda Lane has asked me to share with you this online forum to exchange ideas about how to ensure that all students develop the skills--both academic and non-academic--they need to succeed. Whether you're an educator, a parent, or an interested community member, take part in the conversation here.

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.

Beechview Area Concerned Citizens & Beechview Block Watch
Thursday, September 5, 7:00 p.m. & 8:00 p.m. at Beechview United Presbyterian Church (1621 Broadway Ave)

Carrick-Overbrook Block Watch
Monday, September 9, 7:00 p.m. at Zion Christian Church (2019 Brownsville Rd)

Brookline Block Watch
Tuesday, September 10, 7:00 p.m. at Judge Jim Motznik's Office (736 Brookline Blvd)

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.


HELP, WORK, DONATE, VOLUNTEER

Seniors aged 60+ can receive free home safety resources

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.

More assistance for seniors aged 60+

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:

  • Friendly visits or phone calls, to prevent loneliness
  • Grocery shopping
  • Escorts and transportation to medical appointments or worship services
  • Assistance managing correspondence and paying bills
  • Home safety assessments (see above!)
  • Snow removal

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.

Carrick Tree Tenders welcome you to come out and play in the dirt!

Jake from Tree Pittsburgh and the Carrick Tree Tenders invite you to Tree Care Day on Brownsville Road, where they will be sprucing up (no pun intended) the new trees along the corridor. This will take place on Saturday August 24, 2013 from 10:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m. Meet at the corner of Brownsville Road and Churchview Avenue--and come prepared to play in the dirt and have fun! Tree Pittsburgh will provide tools, gloves, and any other necessary materials. All you'd need to bring is yourself, some friends, and clothes that you don't mind getting dirty in.

If you're interested in attending, and for any questions about tree tending, please contact Joe Krynock at grizzly_joe@verizon.net, Jake Milofsky at jake@treepittsburgh.org or 412.362.6360, or call my office at 412.255.2131.

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.

Meals on Wheels needs drivers and kitchen help

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.


EVENTS

Carrick Tree Care Day
Saturday, August 24, 10:00 am. to 12:00 p.m. at Brownsville Rd and Churchview Ave

Beechview Merchants Association Meeting
Wednesday, August 28, 7:00 p.m. at the BMA office (1553 Broadway Ave)

Labor Day Parade
Monday, September 2, 10:00 a.m. to 12:30 p.m., from Consol Energy Center to USW Building

Rosh Hashanah
Wednesday, September 4 through Friday, September 6

Beechview Area Concerned Citizens & Beechview Block Watch
Thursday, September 5, 7:00 p.m. & 8:00 p.m. at Beechview United Presbyterian Church (1621 Broadway Ave)

Brookline Chamber of Commerce meeting
Monday, September 9, 5:45 p.m. at CLP Brookline (708 Brookline Blvd)

Carrick-Overbrook Block Watch meeting
Monday, September 9, 7:00 p.m. at Concord Elementary (2350 Brownsville Rd)

City Council Public Hearing concerning Fairhaven Methodist Church's historic designation
Tuesday, September 10, 1:00 p.m. at Council Chambers (414 Grant Street)

Brookline Block Watch meeting
Tuesday, September 10, 7:00 p.m. at Judge Jim Motznik's office (736 Brookline Blvd)

Beechview Senior Center Picnic
Wednesday, September 11, 10:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. at Banksville Park on Crane Ave

Carrick Community Council Public Meeting
Wednesday, September 11, 7:00 p.m. at Concord Elementary (2350 Brownsville Rd)

Brookline Identity Visioning meeting #3
Thursday, September 12, 7:00 p.m. at St. Mark's Evangelical Lutheran Church (933 Brookline Blvd)

Yom Kippur
Friday, September 13 through Saturday, September 14

First Annual Kennywood Latino Day
Saturday, September 14, 10:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. at Kennywood

South Pittsburgh Development Corporation (SPDC) monthly meeting
Monday, September 16, 7:00 p.m. at Brookline Presbyterian Church (1036 Brookline Blvd)

Zone 3 Public Safety meeting
Wednesday, September 18, 6:00 p.m. at Zone 3 Police Station (830 E. Warrington Ave)

2014 Capital Budget Hearing - Beechview
Wednesday, September 18, 6:30 p.m. at the Beechview Senior Center (1555 Broadway Ave)

Mt. Washington Community Forum
Thursday, September 19, 7:00 p.m. at the Mt. Washington Senior Center (122 Virginia Ave)

Brookline Autumn Breeze Fest
Saturday, September 21, 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. along Brookline Blvd

Overbrook Community Council meeting
Tuesday, September 24, 7:00 p.m. at the Accamando Center (2410 Saw Mill Run Blvd)

Economic Development South (EDS) Bike/Pedestrian Committee meeting
Thursday, September 26, 7:00 p.m. at EDS offices (4127 Brownsville Rd, Brentwood 15227)

Brookline Area Community Council meeting
Monday, September 30, 7:00 p.m. at St. Mark's Evangelical Lutheran Church (933 Brookline Blvd)


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:
Friday, August 23, 2013
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