Last week’s Pittsburgh news, today #5: fishing for nurdles

For people who might not read the news every day, but would still like to know what’s going on.

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Doug Mastriano gets that bread. NY Mag reports on Martin’s, the popular potato roll purveyors, who are bankrolling the Republican state senator’s gubernatorial campaign. The financial support is rooted in their shared conservative Christian beliefs, and is prompting some to call for a boycott of the rolls, in use by Shake Shack and others.

Vice President Kamala Harris came to Pittsburgh. Harris was in town Friday to promote investments in American infrastructure, especially around lead pipe removal, $15 billion for which is included in the Biden Administration’s proposed infrastructure bill. Lead is a neurotoxin that causes developmental delay in children. Homes with lead service lines in Pittsburgh were exposed to elevated lead levels during parts of 2015 and 2016 when a for-profit corporation provided interim executive management of the Pittsburgh Water and Sewer Authority.

Bakery Square seems poised to expand. Mark Belko reports that Walnut Capital has held “preliminary discussions about a zoning change that would extend the Bakery Square footprint in East Liberty into the Village of Eastside shopping center and an adjacent lot that once housed Club OneFitness.” The Shadyside developers purchased the shopping center for $23.6 million in 2020, and the adjacent lot the same year for nearly $10 million. 

First Lady Gisele Fetterman leads a rally against Pittsburgh’s immigration court closure. Formerly located in the South Side, the court’s closure means that those from Western PA and West Virginia will have to travel to Philadelphia for court appearances, inflicting additional financial burdens and time away from work on those with already limited financial resources. Fetterman herself is from Brazil and has spoken extensively about her experience living in the United States as an undocumented immigrant.

Lawsuits could derail Pittsburgh’s new affordable housing efforts. Kate Giammarise provides an update on the court challenges that may torpedo the City of Pittsburgh’s affordable housing ordinances. The law, “which requires larger housing developments in Polish Hill and Bloomfield to reserve 10% of units for people with low or modest incomes,” was challenged in federal court by Builders Association of Metropolitan Pittsburgh, who allege the law unduly shifts the burden to real estate developers and constitutes an improper taking of private property without just compensation.

Three Rivers Waterkeeper fishes for nurdles. In advance of the Beaver County Shell plastic plant’s opening sometime later this year, WESA reports on a Lawrenceville organization monitoring the Ohio River for small plastic pellets called nurdles, which will be produced at the 386 acre petrochemical facility. The surveys are intended to create a baseline for the number of nurdles in the water already.

A new overlook is coming to Fineview. The steep-sloped, 2.2 acre Fountain Street Overlook opens this Tuesday, June 21.

The Fern Hollow Bridge needed repairs “for decades.” Sean D. Hammill continues to dig into the Fern Hollow Bridge collapse. The latest report declares that repairs were urged “year after year,” as early as 1997, when federal inspectors informed local officials that “uncoated weathering steel” needed to be painted, or would be at risk of “structural failure.”

“Pittsburgh’s largest mural” is coming to the Hill District. The MLK Mural Project is working to create three murals on the site of the new Salem’s grocery store. Phase one begins July 17.