Looking back: The origins of the SSSNA

Submitted by Beverly Bagosi Boggio, founding board member 1998-2008, past president and past StepTrek chair

bev bagosi boggio

On Memorial Day weekend 1998, there was a fire in a home on Holt Street that destroyed three homes in the time that it took the Fire Department to arrive and stage their equipment. Due to the unique topography of the South Side Slopes, narrow hilly streets and tight corners, the fire won. Because of this, a group of active Slopes neighbors were galvanized. Throughout the summer, several meetings were held and by October 1998 a Board of Directors was chosen and the South Side Slopes Association was born. The initial slogan was “SOS/Save Our Slopes”. Thanks to the partnership with the Pittsburgh Bureau of Fire, the Firefighter’s Union and several Fire engine manufacturers, within a year, the City had the plans to order 4 smaller pumper trucks with a tighter turning radius and narrow wheel span to safely travel all of the hilly City neighborhoods, not just the Slopes. This was ambitious and the Board was focused. Keep in mind that the internet of 1998 was not what it is today. We got our first “AOL” email address in 2002, followed by our first website, later that year.

In those early days, the SSSNA Board was tenacious and committed – a spirit that carries on in today’s Board. The projects were large and the budget was shoestring. Each month, the Board members addressing and mailing the newsletter would bring stamps, as there was no funding. The first grant was $250 from the City and we felt like millionaires. In the beginning, we partnered with the former South Side Local Development Company/SSLDC under their 501(c)3 nonprofit umbrella. That is how we were able to obtain grants to improve the Slopes. We were also able to survey housing stock and catalog our steps and their condition. We received 501(c)3 designation in 2005. We continued our partnership until the SSLDC completed their mission in 2012. We received an Elm Street designation for five years to feather into the Main Street designation that SSLDC had from the State. (Learn about Elm Street and Main Street designations here: https://padowntown.org/programs/elm-street-program)

SSSNA also became a member organization of the South Side Planning Forum. We gave input for the South Side Works development and participated in the new land use designations of MAP Pittsburgh. We attended City zoning hearings and invited developers with plans to build/restore in the Slopes, to share their plans and get our input from the community at our meetings. We began long‐standing relationships with City, County and State agencies and officials, as well as the Pittsburgh police. Many of the City partnerships and projects involved public safety. In 2002, we worked to get two pedestrian footbridges over the railroad tracks at 10th and 15th Streets replaced with Core ten steel, adding safety lighting three years later. We also had safety lighting installed under the railroad underpasses on 18th, 21st, 22nd, 23rd, 24th, 26th and 27th Streets.

Another big focus was, and still is, beautification. We began gateway garden developmental by partnering with the Western Pennsylvania Conservancy (WPC). We built gardens along Josephine Street at Greeley and Barry Streets in 2000. More gardens followed along 18th Street, then Brosville and continue to be created throughout the Slopes. There were thousands of cleanups over the years that continue today. Thousands of discarded tires have been removed, as well as tons of trash and recyclables.

What was our most successful, hair‐brained idea? StepTrek. While other neighborhoods had home tours, we knew that the Slopes was unique and should be showcased differently. Author Bob Regan and photographer Tim Fabian were collaborating on a book (The Steps of Pittsburgh: Portrait of a City)  about the public stairways throughout the City – which would create some buzz about the steps. Slopes residents Ed Jacob and Mike Milberger brought an idea to the board that the City steps should be celebrated. The fledgling board decided to give it a try, and StepTrek was a go. In 2000, we held the first StepTrek. Hundreds of people paid money to walk miles of steps – for a good cause. We got the City to repair steps and clean up the routes each year prior to the event. We changed the routes every year to keep up maintenance on all of our stairways. Now in its 18th year, StepTrek has enabled thousands of people to experience the amazing views that we get to see every day.

It has been an amazing journey. It is hard to imagine 20 years ago how much would be accomplished. The loss of homes to the fire in 1998 was terrible, but from that tragedy came a community focused on safety, advocacy and continuous improvement. Since 1998, the SSSNA board has had dozens of amazing neighbors who have served and added to the energy and progress of this community. Thank you to all who served, partnered, volunteered, cleaned, photographed, documented, shared, trekked and donated. The success of SSSNA and the neighborhood is because of you! Cheers to the next 20 years!

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2018 Slopes Summer Picnic

2016-07

Join your neighbors for an evening of fun! This year we are celebrating our 20th year as a neighborhood association, so we will have special food, entertainment, and free volunteer t-shirts.

When: Tuesday, July 10, 2018 @ 6:30 p.m.
Where: Bandi Schaum Community Garden (across from Mission St Pumping Station)
Who: All Friends and Neighbors of the South Side Slopes
Why: Because your neighbors are great!

You’re welcome to bring a covered dish, snacks, drinks, or dessert. Ribs, burgers and hot dogs (and veggie burgers) will be provided.

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May General Meeting

Join us Tuesday, May 8 at 7pm at the Henry Kaufmann House (2201 Salisbury St, Pittsburgh PA  15210).

Agenda:
E Carson Street Development – the city will be giving more details on the upcoming construction on E Carson Street and the rest of the South Side

South Side Park – Update on the results of the Master Plan and next steps

All South Side Slopes residents are invited to attend. Join us to meet new people or reconnect with long-time neighbors, learn what’s happening and what is planned for the community, and share your ideas, concerns and love for the Slopes.

In order to be a voting member of the South Side Slopes Neighborhood Association, you must attend at least 2 meetings and/or events per year.

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Save the Dates 2018

Here are the (actual) dates for the 2018 South Side Slopes Neighborhood Association General Meetings and Parties!

  • Tuesday, January 9 at 7 p.m. – General Meeting at Henry Kaufmann House*
  • Tuesday, March 13 at 7 p.m. – General Meeting at Henry Kaufmann House* CANCELLED (Please stop by the South Side Park Master Plan Meeting on March 15 between 5 and 8 p.m. at Arlington Rec Center at 2201 Salisbury St, 15210)
  • Tuesday, May 8 at 7 p.m. – General Meeting at Henry Kaufmann House*
  • Tuesday, July 10 at 7 p.m. – Summer Picnic at Bandi Schaum Community Garden
  • Saturday October 6 at 11 a.m.- StepTrek
  • Tuesday, October 9 at 7 p.m. – General Meeting at Henry Kaufmann House*
  • Tuesday, December 11 at 7 p.m. – Holiday Party (Location TBD)

* Henry Kaufmann House is located at 2201 Salisbury St, Pittsburgh PA  15210

All South Side Slopes residents are invited to attend. Join us to meet new people or reconnect with long-time neighbors, learn what’s happening and what is planned for the community, and share your ideas, concerns and love for the Slopes.

In order to be a voting member of the South Side Slopes Neighborhood Association, you must attend at least 2 meetings and/or events per year.

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January General Meeting

In addition to general updates, the January meeting will feature an interactive activity and discussion about South Side Park’s Master Plan. Please come and be part of this exciting process!

All South Side Slopes residents are invited to attend. Join us to meet new people or reconnect with long-time neighbors, learn what’s happening and what is planned for the community, and share your ideas, concerns and love for the Slopes.

In order to be a voting member of the South Side Slopes Neighborhood Association, you must attend at least 2 meetings and/or events per year.

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2017 Holiday Party

Join the South Side Slopes Neighborhood Association for our annual holiday party on Tuesday December 12. This year, we will be celebrating at UUBU 6 at 178 Pius Street. Food will be provided, and there will be a cash bar.

Have extra this holiday season? The Association will be collecting toys for Brashear’s annual toy drive. Bring a new unwrapped gift or toy for children up to age 12 to the party – or you can drop them off at: The Brashear Center, 2005 Sarah St.

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2017 Dirty Dozen Viewing

Join the South Side Slopes Neighborhood Association and Cobden Street Block Watch to cheer on the Dirty Dozen riders bicycling up Eleanor Street on Saturday November 25. We will be cheering at 2410 Cobden Street from 2:00PM to 4:00PM with hot coffee and hot cocoa. Bring a mug!

If you’re not familiar the Dirty Dozen is a bicycle race up Pittsburgh’s 13 toughest hills. Welsh Way is hill #11, and Eleanor Street is hill #12. This year is the 35th annual event. More details here: http://www.dannychew.com/ddinfo.html

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2017 Board Elections

Jamie Balser & Elizabeth Heidenreich

Jamie Balser & Elizabeth Heidenreich

Welcome to Jamie Balser to the Board of the South Side Slopes Neighborhood Association. Jamie has been a vocal and active participant in the Friends of South Side Park and many many volunteer days for South Side Park and other Slopes events.

Dawn Lorincy, Denise Filip, Dawn Lorincy, Brian Oswald, and Cara Jette were re-elected for additional 2-year terms as well.

Thank you to Elizabeth Heidenreich for her year of service on the Board!

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Slopes Elections & General Meeting

StepTrek wrap-up and the Board Elections for the South Side Slopes Neighborhood Association will be at the next general meeting.

The meeting will be on Tuesday October 10 at 7pm at the Henry Kaufmann Neighborhood House, 2201 Salisbury St, Pittsburgh, PA 15210

Voting Members of SSSNA are eligible to vote at the October Meeting. Voting Members must be eighteen years old or older and have attended at least two General Meetings this past year. (See By Laws, Article IV, Section 1.)

The Slopes Association will have open positions for new Board of Directors members in the coming election. Board members are seeking to “pass the torch” on to new residents of the Slopes who are engaged in their neighborhood and who will help their community to stay clean, green safe and neighborly.

Interested in joining the Board? Please contact SSSNA Board President Kristin Raup at kristin.raup@southsideslopes.org.

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Small Business Resource Fair

Interested in starting or growing a small business? Stop by the South Side Market House on Wednesday September 6 from 4:30pm to 7pm!

small business resource fair flyer

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