Public Safety Announcement – from Zone 2

At January’s community meeting, several residents raised concerns about public safety incidents in the neighborhood. Commander Kudrav and Lieutenant Vinansky from Zone 2 attended the meeting and were able to address a number of issues.  We thank the Commander for following up with the statement below:

Dear Polish Hill Residents,
On Sunday, Dec. 3, 2016 around 5 p.m., Zone 2 officers responded to a
call on Harmar Street for a domestic disturbance incident.  The
responding officer’s preliminary investigation brought forth an
indication that the suspect may return to the location later in the
day.  The officers appropriately prepared to apprehend the suspect.
When more officers are available for a higher risk task, we take
advantage of the opportunity with the goal to ensure the stability and
safety of the community and officers. I offer the following
information as a reference to provide context to why so many officers
responded and the importance of officer safety practices in any law
enforcement profession:

The FBI reports 96 law enforcement officers died in the line of duty
in the United States in 2014. 51 of those officers were outright
killed by suspects the officers encountered just doing their everyday
job.

Now on the other hand, each officer is held to a high standard of
professionalism in all of their actions and performance. It is
important that I am informed of poor interactions our officers have
with any community members. As an organization, we are learning that our community members can be equally effected by the processes of law enforcement in their neighborhoods as the end results. I am looking into concerns that were shared with me in this regard. I will inform your group leaders of my findings as appropriate.

Additionally, I alerted all shift supervisors of the armed robbery
reported by a group member. Zone 2 shift supervisors will assign
targeted patrols to Polish Hill. This was a serious crime of violence
that was not fully communicated to Zone 2 for a timely response. For
this I apologize. I notified Zone 2 plainclothes detectives of the
reported armed robbery and one of our detectives is working the case.
He has tried several times to get in contact with the victim. The
detective has also responded to the location to gather more evidence.

Looking toward the future, I will inquire as to what instruction is
available for community groups to better understanding what happens
when someone calls 9-1-1. Also, I am inquiring about the possibility
of community personal safety training.

Anna Kudrav, Commander
Pittsburgh Bureau of Police
Zone 2 Station
2000 Centre Avenue
Pittsburgh, PA 15219
412-255-2827
anna.kudrav@pittsburghpa.gov
FBINA #255

The traffic calming committee needs you!

PHCA_HerronAvetraffic

Speeding and cut-through traffic affect all residents to some degree. Those of us who live on or near the busiest streets: Melwood and Herron avenues, Brereton or Paulowna street, are probably the most affected, with speeding cars and the sheer volume of rush hour traffic causing daily aggravation.

The PHCA traffic calming committee is looking for people who are interested in traffic, bike and pedestrian issues. Even if you don’t have time to attend every monthly meeting, the committee could use your help to find solutions to the most pressing traffic issues in our neighborhood. If you’d like to be involved, email kalie@phcapgh.org to find out more.

Damage caused by speeding on Herron Avenue

120914HerronS-curve_sign hit

Last night a car drove up on the hillside at the Herron Avenue S-curve, knocking over the neighborhood sign and flattening the bushes and plantings. This part of the curve is hit frequently; the stone wall was badly damaged by another vehicle this fall. This is also where pedestrians cross, so the frequency of accidents is of particular concern.

Incidents like this highlight the need for long-term solutions to the problem of speeding and cut-through traffic. The issue is complicated.  Roads are public thoroughfares and Polish Hill’s location means that it’s the only quick route between certain points, so vehicles are going to come through. City traffic engineers and Zone Traffic Division are looking at the problem and have advised us that the best way to address the issue is to make it difficult for drivers to speed. If it’s not as quick and easy to cut through Polish Hill, more drivers will stay on the main roads, and the vehicles that do come through will move more slowly.

We’re collecting feedback from residents in order to see what traffic calming measures they want, and where, with the Polish Hill Traffic Calming Survey. The majority of responses thus far support speed humps (not speed bumps, which are higher). The most-requested location is Melwood Avenue, followed by Herron Avenue and Paulowna Street, all streets that are particularly affected by cut-through rush hour traffic.

Another way to support traffic calming solutions is to file a 311 report. Let the City know the impact that speeding and cut-through traffic have on you, and what solutions you want to see.

 

Fill out the Polish Hill traffic calming survey!

slowdown

Some of the most difficult issues facing our neighborhood are related to traffic, particularly the number of vehicles that cut through Polish Hill and the speed at which many drivers move through our streets.  We’ve been working with Zone 2 traffic division, District 7 Council office, and the City of Pittsburgh to find ways to slow down and perhaps reduce the traffic that comes through our neighborhood.

To request traffic calming improvements such as crosswalks, signage or speed humps, we need to have data to make the case, including as much input as possible from residents.  To that end, we’ve created a traffic calming survey.  If this is an issue you care about, please take a few minutes to fill out the survey.

Fill out the survey online, or pick up a paper copy at the PHCA office.

And if you use the East Busway, you might want to check out this mindmixer document from GoBurgh.  You can add your own ideas to the document, which was created for residents to talk about what they like and don’t like about the bus way and the areas surrounding it.

Public meetings to help with search for a new police chief

city-of-pittsburgh-seal

Mayor Peduto and acting Public Safety Director Stephen A. Bucar have announced that the upcoming public phase of the city’s search for a new Pittsburgh Police chief will include six public meetings and a site for online remarks.  They’ll use that input to help write the standards profiling the best applicants for the position.

The first public meeting will be in Zone 2 and will take place on Thursday, June 26 at 6:00 p.m. at the Teamster’s Temple at 4701 Butler Street in Lawrenceville.

Throughout the summer, Public Safety Councils in all six of Pittsburgh’s policing zones will hold forums to provide residents with the opportunity to be involved in the process of selecting a chief.   During these community forums, residents in each zone will have the opportunity to share their ideas about how to improve policing in Pittsburgh, identify their priorities, and suggest the qualities they believe are essential in the new chief.

In conjunction with the meetings to gather feedback on this important decision, the city has set up a platform for citizens to register their opinions online. The formal launch this week of the city’s Mindmixer site is the latest digital component to the administration’s community engagement efforts.

Mindmixer is a site for encouraging and collecting community input on civic issues. Those interested in the search for a police chief may log on to http://pittsburghpa.mindmixer.com/ and answer three general questions:

– What priorities does your community need the new Chief of Police to address?

– What qualities and skills does your community need the new Chief of Police to have?

– What can you and others in your community do to help realize the vision of policing in partnership with the community?

Read the Post-Gazette article about the search for a new police chief.

 

 

 

Commander in Your Corner in Polish Hill

All residents are invited to meet Zone Two Commander Eric Holmes on Friday, August 23 from 10:00 a.m. to noon.  This is an opportunity for residents and stakeholders to walk their neighborhood with the commander and talk about safety and quality of life issues.

Representatives from the PHCA, the Mayor’s office, Public Works and Bureau of Building Inspection will be on hand.

Calling on the Polish Hill snow and ice clearing team!

It’s still snowing at the moment, and it’s very pretty, but we’re already thinking about what comes next:  clearing the snow and preventing ice from forming.  Our stair stewards have already begun their work.  For other neglected stretches of sidewalk or steps, we’re calling on any other residents who feel like helping out.  If you have a shovel, some energy, and maybe an extra bag of salt, your help is needed.  First, look around your street.  Are there sidewalks in front of empty buildings, or a bus stop?  Are there elderly or disabled residents who might not be able to clear their sidewalks?

If your street looks well-cleared, put that shovel over your shoulder and take a walk around the neighborhood.  It’s not just shoveling that’s needed.  The temperatures have been below freezing for so many days that already icy conditions become more dangerous for being hidden underneath a new layer of snow.

We’ve already heard from one resident on Phelan who reports a massive ice slick (water from underground streams flow over the street year-round) that is endangering pedestrians and cars alike.  There’s a salt box near the top of Phelan, left by the City to help residents battle the icing problems that have bedeviled this byway for decades.  As the icy patches are on a road, we’ve 311’d it, and the City salt trucks should show up.  But Phelan is a less-used side street, so help might not be for a little while.  If you live near Phelan, or just feel like helping out, let’s get some salt or other traction on the icy patches.

(A group of volunteers head out to shovel after the big snowstorm of February 2010.  PHCA photo)

Assisting Older Neighbors During Severe Weather

Allegheny County Emergency Services, Human Services and Health Department have put out some information about dealing with the extreme cold.  One item particularly seems relevant to Polish Hill —  the County encourages residents to look out for our elderly neighbors.

Assisting Older Neighbors During Severe Weather

The Department of Human Services (DHS) encourages all county residents to check on older neighbors to make sure they are safe during periods of severe weather. Here are some tips and guidelines:

·         Make sure seniors have a list of emergency telephone numbers that includes neighbors and family members who can help, if needed.

·         Check to see the furnace is working if the house feels cold. Become alert to dangerous methods of heating a room, such as open flames or ovens.

·         Ensure that walkways and steps leading to their homes are cleared and that there is food and water in the house.

·         Go back later or the next day, if at all possible, to make sure everything is still alright. Remove your coat and stay at least 15 minutes. This is a great chance to share a cup of coffee, verify the pipes are not frozen, and check on pets.

·         Be particularly mindful of older neighbors during a power outage. Lack of electrical power not only presents dangers associated with lack of heat, but also risks associated with non-functioning vital medical equipment, such as oxygen systems, emergency lighting, stair glides and medication timers. If you cannot contact someone you believe is in the house, contact your local police or emergency services.

When weather circumstances dictate, the DHS Area Agency on Aging and its contracted providers contact frail, isolated and high-risk consumers who are registered for care management. Care managers visit those at highest risk and ensure each home is well-heated and has enough food, water and medication to last for several days. Care managers also respond to emergency needs as they arise.

The Area Agency on Aging has already provided more than 2,400 “Snowy Weather Boxes” to at-risk older adults who are registered with the agency and often live alone. The boxes include toilet paper, non-skid slipper socks, hand sanitizer, flashlight and batteries, peanut butter, crackers, tuna, fruit, juice, bottled water, and other shelf-stable meals and drinks.

Information about programs and services for older adults is available by calling SeniorLine at 412-350-5460 (TDD/TTY 412-350-2727), sending an email to SeniorLine@alleghenycounty.us, or visiting the DHS Older Adults website at www.alleghenycounty.us/dhs/olderadults.aspx.

(Photo of Brereton Street buildings in winter by Mark Knobil)

Data from radar boxes and traffic calming recommendations presented at the January 8 community meeting, recommendations made

At the monthly community meeting on January 8, Officers Cain and LeVan of Zone 2 traffic division presented the data collected by radar boxes installed in and near Polish Hill at the request of the PHCA.   The radar boxes were installed in three locations for a period of about 2 weeks each to collect data on the amount of traffic and speeding.

The only radar box that was installed in Polish Hill was placed on Dobson Street, where it recorded 17,520 vehicles in a period of 13 days this fall.  14.4% of the vehicles went more than 31mph (6 mph over the limit).  2.1% went more than 10 miles over the posted limit.  Most of the traffic on Dobson passed through during the rush hours of 7-9 am and 5-6 pm.

The officers noted that  there were many more vehicles going from Brereton Street to Herron Avenue — 10,000.  In the other direction, from Herron Avenue to Brereton Street, there were 7500 cars.  They attributed the discrepancy to cut-through traffic during rush hours.  It should be noted that the 54D also travels on Dobson in just one direction, from Herron to Brereton, which also skews the numbers.

The officers stated that the amount of speeding was within reasonable parameters.  Residents might not agree; 14..4 % is more than 2,500 cars in under two weeks — on a narrow street with a lot of pedestrians, that’s a lot.

The officer’s recommendation was to focus on reducing the number of vehicles that that use Polish Hill as a cut-through during rush hours.  They felt that the best way to do this would be No Left Turn signs, to in effect only during rush hour, at Herron (going uphill) to Melwood; at Dobson to Herron, and at the top of Brereton at Herron.  The officers acknowledged that this would create chaos for a couple of weeks, but assured us that within a month things would settle down, as cut-through drivers realized that the Polish Hill shortcut was no longer viable, at which point we would see a reduction in traffic.

It was noted that drivers would just use Phelan or Paulowna instead, so it might be necessary to request No Left Turn signs at additional spots to ensure that the problem didn’t just shift to other streets.

It was also proposed that there be a no turn sign on Bigelow at Finland, where drivers were turning into  the neighborhood at high speeds.  Residents at the meeting supported this suggestion as well.

The next steps towards getting the signs would be to  discuss the question with the community, get support for our application, then do an engineering study.   One way that residents can show their support for traffic reduction and calming:  file a 311 report.  The City looks at 311 complaints and requests to see what residents want.  It’s easy to file a 311 — you can call, text, or write, or fill out this online form.

(Above:  during an evening rush hour in April 2011, the Herron Bridge was closed off due to a transformer explosion.  Within 15 minutes, all the through streets in Polish Hill were bumper-to-bumper.  While unusual, the incident clearly showed just many cars use the neighborhood as a cut-through to shorten their commute.  Photo by Patrick Singleton)

Volunteers help clear sidewalks and steps

Each time it snows, Polish Hill’s informal snow shoveling volunteers  swing into action, heading out with shovels (or in some cases, snow blowers) to help clear sidewalks and steps.  The past several days were no exception.  We’d like to thank all of the all those who spent time in the cold clearing snow and salting so that everyone can walk safely.

This is an example of proactive, individual volunteering — and being neighborly.  And it’s something anyone can do.  Just look around near your home, on your block or street.  There might be older or disabled residents who could use help clearing and salting their steps and sidewalks.  Sidewalks in front of vacant lots or empty buildings and bus stops are other places that could use clearing.  Some City steps that are not under the care of stair stewards could use clearing, or anywhere that sidewalks are so icy that the road is easier to walk on needs attention.

If you’re interested in volunteering in a more formal way, contact the PHCA and we can suggest some areas that might not have been cleared yet.  And if you still have energy and would like to get out further, read about ServePGH’s Snow Angels, a program where volunteers are put in contact with people across the city who have requested help.

And for property owners, a reminder:  under City code, you are legally obligated to keep the sidewalk in front of your property shoveled.

(Top:  Brian Seklecki, shoveling after a big snowfall in January, 2012.  Photo by Leslie Clague for the PHCA)