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May 28, 2015

CRC plans Hill District tour

The University Senate community relations committee is developing plans to tour the Hill District on its next community visit. Each year the committee devotes one meeting to visit a nearby neighborhood. Recent field trips have taken CRC members to Uptown, Larimer and Hazelwood.

CRC co-chair Tracy Soska said CRC’s June 15 meeting will focus on the visit and on determining the committee’s direction for the coming year.


CRC’s May 19 meeting was focused on updates from University and community partners.

PittServes update

Misti McKeehen, director of the Office of PittServes, reported:

• The office, through its sustainability program, will host a farmers’ market noon-3 p.m. May 28 outside the William Pitt Union.

• Students in need are continuing to visit the Pitt Pantry food pantry at Bellefield Presbyterian Church, McKeehen said. The pantry relies on donations and is not a member of the Greater Pittsburgh Community Food Bank. The pantry’s regular summer hours are 3-6 p.m. Wednesday and 9 a.m.-noon Friday. Details are available at

• PittServes is establishing a partnership with the School of Information Sciences (SIS) to pair students for semester-long volunteer opportunities with community agencies who need information technology work. The project aims to enable students to use service to build their careers. McKeehen said the partnership with SIS is intended to develop a platform that can be expanded to other schools.

University community relations report

John Wilds, assistant vice chancellor for community relations, reported that PittStart orientation sessions have begun. Six sessions will be held between May and August.

Social responsibility, volunteerism, civic engagement and safety on campus are among the topics discussed with incoming students and their parents, Wilds said.

Kannu Sahni, director of community relations, added that over-occupancy in rental units off-campus, disruptive off-campus behavior and the University’s expectations for conforming to the student code of conduct also are discussed.

“This is an early way of setting an expectation,” Sahni said.


Sahni reported that the University police department delivered 3,000 pounds of food to the Oakland Food Pantry as part of the Pitt Partnership for Food drive.

Community partners updates

Wanda Wilson of the Oakland Planning and Development Corp. reported:

• Be a Good Neighbor campaign materials are being prepared for August distribution.

Mavis Rainey of Oakland Transportation Management Association reported:

• The May 15 Bike to Work Day attracted 220 visitors to Schenley Plaza. Eighty cyclists received free bike inspections and registration.

• Conversations are continuing regarding installation of Bike Share stations in Oakland and on the city’s proposed bike share street network plan, which encompasses issues such as which roadways cyclists will use, connections among stations and parking impacts.

Oakland community meetings on the proposal will be held at 8 a.m. and 5:30 p.m. June 1 in William Pitt Union ballroom.

• Planning is underway for the second annual Oakland Forever community event, set for Sept. 17-19. Temporary demonstration installations for pedestrian-friendly activities will include outdoor dining, art installations, fashion trucks and food trucks on Forbes Avenue. The plan aims to tie into Pittsburgh “Envision Downtown” complete streets multimodal initiatives.

• Pedestrians and cyclists traveling between Oakland and the South Side via the Birmingham Bridge are being urged to observe the “Sidewalk closed” signs in the construction zone. Some individuals are going around construction fencing and entering the active construction site, Rainey said.

“That’s problematic for construction workers and for the pedestrians and cyclists who are really putting themselves at risk.”

A video showing where to cross is being produced.

Phase 1 of the bridge project will end in November. Work will restart in spring, with detours changing to the opposite direction.


Georgia Petropoulos of the Oakland Business Improvement District (OBID) urged those who use the Fifth and Forbes avenue corridors in Oakland to review plans for bus rapid transit (BRT) and provide comments via The deadline for submitting comments to city transportation planners is June 4.

The BRT plans will produce big changes in Oakland “not only in your car and your bus, but in traffic and for cyclists as well as pedestrians,” she said.

OBID has arranged for Patrick Roberts, Pittsburgh’s principal transportation planner, to present proposed alternatives for the Fifth and Forbes corridors at 3 p.m. June 3 at the Oakland Career Center. Details are posted at

In addition, she reported:

• Oakland Restaurant Week is set for June 22-27 with restaurant owners offering $6 lunch specials.

• OBID is working with Kannu Sahni to develop a local discount program designed for Pitt faculty and staff.

Oakland Task Force report

Paul Supowitz, vice chancellor for Community and Governmental Relations, reported that numerous development projects are being discussed by the Oakland Task Force. Among them:

• The 389-apartment Skyvue mixed-use development under construction on Forbes Avenue on the site of the former Allegheny County Health Department.

• A proposed student housing property at 3407 Forbes Ave.  A Georgia-based company, Student Advantage, is pursuing city approvals to build with plans to commence leasing in fall 2017.

• A planned STEM building for Central Catholic High School.

• Hotels proposed to be constructed above the Pittsburgh Athletic Association parking lot and near the Skyvue development.

• A pedestrian bridge at the School for the Blind.

—Kimberly K. Barlow