Monday, January 31, 2011

North Siders on West Park

Dozens of North Siders went to City Council chambers on Monday morning for a hearing on uses for West Park.

West Park is commonly referred to as the communal front yard for the North Side residents who live around it. But 29 disgruntled residents recently signed a petition asking for a hearing before City Council because they were unhappy with the events held in the park during the summer months. They said are too large for the park, event-goers make too much noise, their dogs can’t access the dog park, the trees are potentially harmed, litter is left behind and street parking is scarce. Carol Malakoff said the events impact her life.

"There is no parking in front of my building, my house," she said.

Those that signed the petition were all white.

"The people who have signed this petition will tell you its about dogs, trash and noise. I disagree. It is about race and it is about control," said Jennifer Russell, a supporter of the The Unity Gathering, the largest event held in the park.

The largest event held in the park is The Unity Gathering organized by the Pittsburgh Old Timers, a mostly African-American group. Intended to unite families from the North Side to combat neighborhood violence, it draws a few thousand people from all over the country.

Allen Turner runs the Old Timers and said this was a sad day for him because all he wanted was peace and love.

Council Members told the North Siders they would continue working with them to come up with a solution that works for everyone and reminded them that when you live in an urban area, certain things just come with the territory.

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