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South Side Slopes Residents Upset Over New Plans For Steps

PITTSBURGH (KDKA) – The public steps that line the hillsides are the identity of the South Side Slopes.

And while many are in need of repair, some South Side residents say the city is "out of step" with its reconstruction plans.

The project to redo the steps has been on the planning boards for about three years – and finally this week, the project got underway.

However, it was halted for a few hours Tuesday because not everyone is happy about the way the new steps will look.

"The people who live here, they really identify with these steps, and they're really a sense of pride for us," Brad Palmisiano with the South Side Slope Association Board said.

It's a sense of pride that may diminish somewhat with the city's plans to redo them.

"It's just going to be a large slope that follows the grade," Palmisiano said. "It's not going to be the infrastructure that you see now. It's not going to be steps – there's going to be some steps and then there's going to be a large, graded sidewalk, so it'll be very difficult to negotiate in the winter."

When the association got wind of these plans, they started making calls to the city.

"The neighborhood association started getting calls – I think on Monday morning -- and then they actually started tearing down the steps," Palmisiano said.

The director of public works halted the $177,000 project for a few hours to make sure community residents and leaders had been notified about the construction and changes.
Letters went out June 27.

Public Works Director Rob Kaczorowski said it would cost taxpayers more money to reconstruct each step, which is why sections will be just sidewalk.

"This is our sense of identity," Palmisiano said. "And so when we destroy these things like this, it's just sort of – the neighborhood loses what makes the South Side Slopes a cool neighborhood, which is our steps."

For now the project is full steam ahead.

However, Kaczorowski says if someone can come up with a plan that includes redoing all the steps and is cost effective – he's willing to listen.

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