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City to consider new site for off-leash dog park in Mount Washington

Written by Diana Nelson Jones on .

 

olympiadogpark

An acre of Olympia Park along Virginia Avenue and Hallock Street will not continue to be Mount Washington‘‍s off-leash dog park once a new site can be developed, possibly behind the park, near trails of Emerald View Park.

Mayor Bill Peduto’‍s office issued a notice that a compromise site will be worked out, with no specific details as yet.

The dog park was established two years ago with advocacy from about a dozen dog owners. It quickly had opposition from nearby neighbors who said they were not consulted.

Nearby resident Robert Ariass, who has lived on Hallock for 13 years, said his beef is not that there is an off-leash exercise area but that the site is too near to homes and that those residents could have been contacted.

“We never had a chance to talk about this,” he said. “Now the city wants to take away what should not have been established in the first place.”

Most off-leash dog parks are either in remote areas, such as the South Side‘‍s, Lawrenceville’‍s and in Riverview Park. An off-leash area that is not fenced in Allegheny Commons Park on the North Side is not remote but there no residents within 50 yards of it.

Mr. Ariass said barking in the evening prevents him from having a peaceful summer evening meal on his back porch.

But dog-park denizens say the site is perfect, with a slope that drains so that there is no mud, and that commotion is not as common as detractors say it is.

“People had been using this area before” a fence was installed, said Emily Matthews, a regular visitor with her dog, Thurston, a lab-pit mix.

If the park is moved to the wooded area where trails are, she said, dogs will be exposed to broken glass and ticks. “The trail area may not be accessible to older people, too,” she said.

“Everybody who uses it loves this dog park,” said Matthew Sill, Thurston's other half. “But the mayor is a cool guy, so he‘‍ll probably come up with something good.”

“I moved to Mount Washington to be near a park,” said Brandon Allen, who was in the park today with Emily and Matthew, their Thurston and his German shepherd Kila. “If they move it a couple hundred yards away, I understand. But there’‍s more noise from the baseball field than from these dogs.”

The mayor‘‍s office noted that its goal is “to provide an off-leash area... that is set far enough away from residential properties to limit impacts on neighbors.”

Public Works will be studying possible sites, during which time the city will honor the current dog park’‍s confines.

Photo of Emily Matthews, left, Brandon Allen, center, and Matthew Sill, with dogs Thurston, left and Kila.

 

 

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Your chance to comment on $4.7 billion in transportation spending

Written by Jon Schmitz on .

If you have an interest in how $4.7 billion in public money will be spent for transportation improvements in the region over the next four years, here’s your chance to comment.

The Southwestern Pennsylvania Commission will hold a public meeting on the draft 2015-18 Transportation Improvement Program at 6 p.m. Monday at its conference center, fourth floor of Two Chatham Center, 112 Washington Place in Downtown Pittsburgh. Comments can also be mailed to the commission at SPC Comments, Two Chatham Center, Suite 500, 112 Washington Place, Pittsburgh 15219 or emailed to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. but must be in by 4 p.m. July 18.

Here’s our June 23 story about the plan, which increases spending by 52 percent thanks to the state’s new transportation funding law.

Here’s the plan itself. The meaty stuff is in Appendixes 6, 7 and 8.

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Bicycle enthusiasts rarely like hearing from motorists about their alleged sins -- disobedience of traffic laws, riding on sidewalks, slowing traffic -- but they’ve got to be chewing their spokes over this column in The Washington Post, in which the writer says some drivers might think the $500 fine for hitting a bicyclist is worth it. Read it here.

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In case you missed it, here’s the report by the PG’s Robert Zullo on Mayor Bill Peduto’s announcement of the first three protected bike-only lanes in Pittsburgh, coming to you by Labor Day.

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menatworkA reminder that there will be no full closure of the outbound Squirrel Hill Tunnel this week. PennDOT has postponed it indefinitely. Overnight lane closures continue, and the outbound tunnel has had backups on Saturdays, when the contractor on the rehab project is allowed to keep a lane shut until 10 a.m.

If you’re jonesing for a traffic jam, you might try Route 60 in Robinson, where paving will cause alternating one-way traffic from Old Steubenville Pike to Hightower Boulevard from 10 p.m. Friday to 1 p.m. Saturday and 8 p.m. Saturday to 1 p.m. Sunday.

Another reminder: the outbound Liberty Tunnel will be closed around the clock from 8 p.m. Friday through 6 a.m. July 28 as painting of the tunnel walls continues. The outbound tunnel will close at 8 p.m. today and Thursday and reopen by 6 a.m. the following morning.

Lane closures will occur on the Parkway East in Downtown Pittsburgh on Saturday and Sunday during inspection of the Smithfield Street Bridge. An inbound lane will close from 6 a.m. to noon Saturday; an outbound lane will close during the same hours on Sunday.

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Positively 6th Sreet

Written by Diana Nelson Jones on .

streetcelebration 

The Pittsburgh Downtown Partnership is doing a nervy thing on Sunday the 20th -- prohibiting motorized vehicles on 6th Street and Market Street from the Clemente Bridge to Market Square. Granted, it‘‍s only from 8 a.m. to noon. It would be nervier to do it all day or on a Saturday. That would be beyond nervy, but very cool.

The “Open Streets Pittsburgh” event,-- part of an 8-day “Celebrate Downtown” orchestration -- is co-sponsored by the PDP, Bike Pittsburgh and the Pittsburgh Cultural Trust. The no-cars space has been programmed with climbing walls, yoga demonstrations, dancing and all those fun things people do in ads on TV. (quick tangent: What is it with climbing walls? Why not a kids’‍ chamber orchestra?) 

This effort is a window for people to see the possibility of a moment in time without cars, a change of scene to create a “place” in the middle of a street. Maybe the everyday, workaday person might expand his idea of what a street is or could be.

Urban designers and planners are emphasizing the importance of creating a strong sense of place on our streets. This in part is an effort to bring balance to the use of streets, to assert the right of walkers, bikers and people climbing walls to be as dominant as drivers of cars.

Closing streets to let people not using fossil fuels seize the day is a little trickle of a trend that’‍s actually international in scope. Bogota, Colombia has experimented with the concept as have New York, San Francisco and several cities in Europe. It‘‍s usually on a Sunday, on a stretch less traveled so as not to foment much driver ire.

It‘‍s one part rebellion and one part possibility, another little nudge, of which the green movement only seems capable. Big nudges and knock downs are the specialty of those who have too much to lose if we seriously start rejecting fossil fuels.

So, a little nudge to all to start realizing that the streets do not belong to drivers of cars, even though public policy for decades has pretty much dictated that they do. Everyone who pays taxes, whether he drives or not, has bought into our streets and roads. The fact that they have been designed for the convenience of motorized vehicles for decades doesn't mean they have to stay that way. They can be redesigned for the convenience of everyone else and the inconvenience of cars. As we all know, inconvenience changes people's habits real fast.

For a full line-up of Celebrate Downtown, visit here

 

 

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Pittsburgh police investigate attempted robbery in West End

Written by Liz Navratil on .

I'm back! Apologies for the absence. It's been a whirlwind few weeks. During that time, a few of us traveled to San Francisco for an Investigative Reporters & Editors conference. (We were finalists for one of their awards this year.)

To ease everyone back into the blog, here's a tidbit in Pittsburgh crime news today that did not make it to the main site.

Officers from Pittsburgh's Zone 6 station on the West End said today that they are investigating an attempted robbery outside an ATM machine in the 800 block of Brookline Boulevard about 6 a.m. Monday. Police said the suspect pulled out a knife, demanded money and then backed away after the victim, a 42-year-old woman, yelled at him. Anyone with information is asked to call Zone 6 detectives at 412-937-3051. More details can be found here.

 

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Bring on the goats!

Written by Diana Nelson Jones on .

 

goats

A herd of goats came to the city today to munch on nuisance vegetation on a steep slope in Polish Hill. The practice known as “eco grazing” is starting to catch on in the eastern states, where invasive species are taking over most of Pittsburgh‘‍s hillsides.

Tree Pittsburgh contracted with Erik Schwalm, a goat owner in Saxonburg, to begin an 18-month eradication and reclamation process. The guy in the photo above is Brian Knox, who came in from Maryland as a consultant and goat tender. He operates Eco-Goats, a business in Maryland that got a jump on what was no competition six years ago. 

He still has little competition with about six other grazing businesses scattered among several states. There is so much unwanted vegetation in concentration that several goat grazing businesses could operate in western Pennsylvania without stepping on each other’‍s hooves.

Sorry.

From the information I have, there is nothing not to like about using goats to keep control of overgrowth. They have to eat anyway and they love almost everything we don‘‍t: poison ivy, thorny stuff, vines, knotweed. They do the job without chemicals and they aerate and fertilize the soil as they move over it without displacing it.

In addition, a farmer gets some extra money for taking a grazing gig and the public, especially the urban public who rarely get to see farm animals, gets to see how cute, goofy and fun goats are. The charm factor is not to be scoffed at.goat1

The city was completely amenable to the grazing event and workshop at West Penn Park today and contributed fencing and manpower to prepare for it, Danielle Crumrine, executive director of Tree Pittsburgh, told Walkabout.

But to ensure this isn’‍t a one-time thing, we would all benefit if the city would establish a friendly process for people to put their goats to work on solving a big nuisance in the city, whether in a park, a public right of way or a neighborhood.

Look for story in today‘‍s Pittsburgh Press and tomorrow’‍s Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, with photos by Darrell Sapp and a video by Nate Guidry on this web site.

 

 

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