On Monday evening, August 3rd, well over 50 Bloomfield neighbors crowded into St. Maria Goretti church to find out how Little Italy Days organizers have responded to problems during last year’s event. Changes from 2014 event logistics were clarified during what was a heated meeting at times between supporters and critics of the event.
Issues raised included street cleaning and garbage removal after the event, public drunkenness, parking, and traffic and access issues due to closures on Liberty Avenue.
In response to the traffic problems of last year, event organizer Sal Richetti of Sal Richetti Events outlined a change of road closures this year. Liberty Avenue will be closed from Taylor Street to Millvale Avenue, with the posted detour directing outbound drivers and cyclists to take a left onto Taylor and a right onto Friendship Avenue. He also confirmed that the Bloomfield Bridge will be open in both directions throughout Little Italy Days.
Parking concerns have been addressed by the organizers with the securing of UPMC’s Luna Parking Garage on Saturday and Sunday, August 22 and 23, with a shuttle service to and from Millvale Street. This is in addition to free parking available in West Penn Hospital’s surface parking lot at 5050 Liberty Avenue (only Saturday after 3pm and Sunday) and paid parking available in the Shur Save parking lot and the West Penn Hopital parking garages. Mr. Richetti added that Allegheny Health Network’s Aspen Street parking lot and both City lots on Taylor and Cedarville Streets will be free on Saturday, August 22.
Mr. Richetti was asked about a plan for cleaning up the neighborhood after the event, and he agreed that, as in years past, he will have the event area and immediately surrounding blocks picked up. Responding to questions of public drunkenness, he stated that Little Italy days is a family-friendly event and that there has not been an issue in the past. He added that off-duty police and security will be on site at all times to ensure public safety.
Additional concerns raised by neighbors in attendance included the number and layout of vendors, and the event feeling out of scale with the neighborhood. Business sales concerns of Liberty Avenue’s small businesses were raised, and when asked if a market study measuring the event’s impact had happened, Mr. Richetti answered affirmatively, but gave no further details. In follow up questions, he clarified that a formal market study had not taken place, but that an informal survey of businesses indicated a large increase in business over Little Italy Days weekend.
Sal Richetti is owner of Sal Richetti Events and Big Day Entertainment, both based in the Strip District. He holds the trademark to Little Italy Days, the 4-day Italian heritage festival taking place August 20-23. A schedule of performances and events, information about vending, and parking and detour information are available at www.LittleItalyDays.com.
If you weren’t able to attend the meeting, you can submit questions directly to Mr. Richetti via email or phone at 412.377.2923.