Saturday, February 25, 2006

Student crowds Downtown discussed

Student crowds Downtown discussed She said Pittsburgh's Downtown should still be perceived as 'one of the safest urban centers in the country,' and will be helped further in summer by the partnership's hiring of 'ambassadors' who will walk the streets and serve as extra eyes and ears for police.
I think it is sorta silly to hire ambassadors. We should hire crossing-guards.

I think it is sorta silly to put more and more kids onto PAT buses when we should have some service for school buses to and from neighborhoods to our high schools.

I think it is dangerous to close Schenley High School -- in Oakland. I don't like the idea of moving Schenley HS to the east end into Reisenstein Middle School's building. That would put Westinghouse, Peabody and Schenley all into an area that is too close to each other -- and -- someone else has said it would be "a hornets nest."

Building a guys only campus and a girls only campus is another trend that should be examined in Pittsburgh.

The other cheap and obvious solution, should violence become more and more of an issue for the high school kids is to go to a 'uniform' policy. The uniforms are not 'fool proof' of course, and there is some downside to that move, but, it can help and everything needs to be on the table.

Finally, the kids are not going downtown to play basketball or use recreational facilities. That's for sure as there are no decent facilities for them to gather in productive ways downtown.

Until recently, there used to be a swim pool at the Salvation Army -- closed. There used to be a swim pool at the YWCA -- closed. The gym spaces are for the more up-scale corporate clients in town.

What do we have for our kids to shoot at or to shoot for -- other than themselves? That is the nagging questions I want to ask and fix. I want to attack the problems from the other end of the spectrum, from a holistic approach. We need to challenge and coach our teens.

Seniors vote. Seniors have been not only at the top of the priority list -- but the only thing on the priority list. That mentality has lasted far too long.

We have a generation of kids having babies. We need to give new focus to parenting and support areas such as pre-schools and day cares and playgrounds where coaching occurs.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Student crowds Downtown discussed
City officials worry about several safety issues

By Gary Rotstein, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

Mayor Bob O'Connor is organizing a meeting of school, police and Downtown officials next week to discuss safety precautions that may be needed due to the large number of students who congregate each weekday in the business district.

The planned meeting follows an incident Wednesday afternoon in which one teenager shot another in a dispute, but it has to do with an ongoing situation noted by the mayor, by business owners and by others, said Mr. O'Connor's spokesman, Dick Skrinjar. Other than this week's shooting, officials said, students have not been involved in other recent violence Downtown.

The mayor "has concerns about the safety of having large numbers of schoolkids on the sidewalks, and overcrowding with the kids spilling into the streets," Mr. Skrinjar said. "Mixing pedestrians and automobiles isn't a good idea, and overcrowded sidewalks are causing some of the students to walk into the streets."

Representatives of Pittsburgh Public Schools, the Port Authority, city police and the Pittsburgh Downtown Partnership are among those expected to discuss the issue and possible ways of addressing it, Mr. Skrinjar said. The meeting date has not been set, as schedules were still being coordinated.

The school district provides about 4,500 Port Authority bus passes to high school students. A school transportation official said at least 2,100 use those passes Downtown, either to attend one of the three schools located there or to transfer between their own neighborhoods and their school destinations. Nothing prevents other students with or without passes from also coming Downtown once the school day ends.

Bob Grove, a Port Authority spokesman, said the biggest throng of students is typically at the intersection of Wood Street and Liberty Avenue, which is convenient to the schools, a busy bus stop and nearby fast-food eateries. For that reason, he said, the transit system's police officers are present at the location every afternoon. Wednesday's shooting was several blocks away, at Sixth Street and Penn Avenue.

"The issue's not new to us," Mr. Grove said. "The volume of kids Downtown today is not appreciably different than in recent years, maybe a little higher because enrollment at the three Downtown schools is a little higher."

About 1,100 public school students attend either the Pittsburgh High School for the Creative and Performing Arts, known as CAPA, or the City Charter High School or Northside Urban Pathways Charter School, which is also Downtown, despite its name.

Mary Ellen Solomon, a spokeswoman for the Pittsburgh Downtown Partnership, said discussions also took place last year with city and school officials about the number of students clustering in the Golden Triangle. They led to no actions, she said, perhaps because both the city and school administrations were undergoing change.

She said Pittsburgh's Downtown should still be perceived as "one of the safest urban centers in the country," and will be helped further in summer by the partnership's hiring of "ambassadors" who will walk the streets and serve as extra eyes and ears for police.

(Gary Rotstein can be reached at or 412-263-1255.)