The Bulletin: Community Development in Garfield


Community Development Updates by Rick Swartz, BGC

 

Council to consider bill allowing “granny flats”

City Council will take up legislation this month to allow a second dwelling unit to be added to single-family homes in a large portion of Garfield. Homeowners and homebuilders will have a two-year trial period to see if it is feasible to convert a basement, garage or third-floor attic into a second apartment, or tuck a “granny flat” into a newly-built house, as ways to make owning a home more affordable. The homeowner would need to remain the primary occupant of the house for as long as the unit is rented. The area of Garfield under consideration extends from Allegheny Cemetery on the west to N. Aiken Ave. on the east. Penn Ave. would not be included in the district. A public hearing on the bill is scheduled for July 25, at 2 p.m., in City Council chambers.


Modular home approved for lot in 400 block of N. Graham

The Garfield neighborhood could see the construction of its first modular home this summer on a lot at the corner of N. Graham and Hillcrest Sts. Module, Inc. received approval from the city zoning board in May to erect the house, which will be built in sections in a factory and shipped to the site. A homebuyer for the unit has already been identified. Brian Gaudio, a principal in the firm known as Module, has said he would like to build additional, for-sale homes in other parts of the neighborhood.


Open Hand Ministries ramps up activity in Garfield

Open Hand Ministries, currently renovating a single-family home at 208 N. Fairmount for a working-class homebuyer, appears poised to take on renovations projects at several other locations in Garfield. Pairing up with East Liberty Development, Inc. (ELDI), Open Hand has its sights set on re-doing houses at 4752 Kincaid St., 310 N. Fairmount St., 5521 Broad St., and 233 N. Aiken Ave. ELDI has managed to receive a commitment award of federal tax credits that will reduce Open Hand’s construction costs by as much as 20%, which will help keep their homes affordable to families earning under $40,000 per year.


Possible help from City Council for Fort Pitt School and Field

Councilman Rev. Ricky Burgess told two representatives from Garfield community groups last month that he will try to get the city to commit as much as $50,000 to seed efforts to plan for the future of Ft. Pitt School and an adjoining ballfield. The school has sat empty since 2011. A letter sent in March to school Superintendent Anthony Hamlet by Brothers and Sisters Emerging, Valley View Presbyterian Church, and the Bloomfield-Garfield Corporation requested collaboration from the school district in creating a facility that could be used by both the district and the community. The letter has gone unanswered. Brothers and Sisters, which organizes the Garfield Gators football program every fall, is concerned about the deteriorated condition of the field’s grass surface, and would like to see artificial turf installed in its place.


City says “no” to paying for remediation of Broad St. hillside

Mayor Bill Peduto’s chief of staff, Dan Gilman, told the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette in June that a landslide which occurred in February behind a group of homes in the 5400 block of Broad St. was not triggered by what many residents feel was a poorly-executed house demolition the city oversaw last July. Four homeowners saw their houses condemned initially by the city after a portion of the hillside fell away from their homes. The occupants of two of those homes were able to return to them about a month later, but the other two owners have been forced to accept housing elsewhere. The point of origin for the landslide appears to have been the lot where the demolition work was done. The question remains as to who will take responsibility for reconstruction of retaining walls at both the top and the bottom of the hillside. The retaining wall that ran along the top of the hillside was knocked down by the demolition contractor the city hired last year to raze a house and rear garage that had been condemned at 5472 Broad St.


Garfield Land Trust moving forward with incorporation

After almost two years of planning and engagement of neighborhood residents, the Board of the Garfield Land Trust is readying articles of incorporation for filing this summer with the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. The land trust’s mission will be to find ways to create an inventory of housing in Garfield that is permanently affordable for lower-income individuals and families. A business plan is also being prepared that will have a variety of strategies the trust’s Board can use to achieve this goal. In a somewhat related move, City Council has approved Mayor Peduto’s nominees to the first advisory board for the Housing Opportunity Fund. The fund will have a stream of up to $10 million annually in city tax dollars that groups such as the Land Trust will be able to use to achieve their mission.

The Girl Scouts Western Pennsylvania and Goodwill Team Up for the “Give A Little Love” Holiday Clothing Drive & Community Service Project December 1 – December 31, 2015

Beginning on Dec. 1, two well-known and well-respected nonprofit organizations, the Girls Scouts Western Pennsylvania and Goodwill of Southwestern Pennsylvania, are teaming up this year for the holidays. Together, they will conduct the “Give A Little Love” Holiday Clothing Drive and Community Service Project during the month of December. Girl Scouts will be collecting gently used items for donation to Goodwill for the winter months when donations are needed most. Items donated will be sold in Goodwill stores to support the agency’s mission to provide job training and education to help people with barriers to gain employment.

“We are so very pleased to work with the Girl Scouts on this donation drive project,” said Danielle Hardy, Community Donations Specialist at Goodwill SWPA. “They have been a wonderful partner of Goodwill for decades because of their commitment to the community.  Their support this year is greatly needed.”

During the “Give A Little Love” Holiday Clothing Drive and Community Service Project, Girl Scouts will distribute donation bags to family, friends and other partners throughout the community. Later, they will collect the donation bags and deliver them to their local Goodwill store and donation center by December 31st. Goodwill SWPA and the Girls Scouts Western Pennsylvania are calling on the public to support the project by cleaning out their closets to help to Girl Scouts fill the donation bags.

Participating Girl Scouts will have the opportunity to earn a patch provided by Goodwill recognizing their fulfillment of community service. Additionally, the top three Girl Scouts who collect the most donations will win a paid trip to camp; courtesy of Goodwill SWPA.

“Thanks to local organizations like Goodwill of Southwestern Pennsylvania, Girl Scouts have opportunities to keep their promise to help others and make the world a better place,” said Patricia A. Burkart, CEO of Girl Scouts Western Pennsylvania.  “Even our youngest Girl Scouts in kindergarten can participate in this project, putting them on a path of service and engagement that will last their entire lives.”

For more information on the Give A Little Love Holiday Clothing Drive and Community Service Project, or to receive general information about how to partner with Goodwill on a community donation drive, visit www.goodwillswpa.org/host-donation-drive or contact Danielle Hardy at 412-632-1875 or danielle.hardy@goodwillswpa.org.

The Penn Avenue Reconstruction Project Phase II Community Scoping Meeting

Community Meeting2PhII - NUMBER TWO-sm

Join us for
The Penn Avenue Reconstruction Project Phase II Community Scoping Meeting
Thursday, October 8th!

The Bloomfield-Garfield Corporation invites you and your neighbors to discuss the scope of Phase II of the Penn Avenue Reconstruction Project (Evaline to Graham Sts.) with the Department of Public Works.

Head over to the BGC Activity Center (113 N. Pacific Ave.) this Thursday at 6 p.m. to take part in the discussion.

To learn more or RSVP, contact Deputy Director of the Bloomfield-Garfield Corporation, Aggie Brose, at 412-441-6950 (ext. 15) or Aggie@Bloomfield-Garfield.org.

Penn Avenue Reconstruction Project Phase II Community Meeting

Tonight, at 6pm, the BGC hosts a community meeting for local residents to voice their opinions about the Penn Avenue reconstruction project and learn more about its second phase of planning. The meeting, which is open to the public at the BGC Activities Center (113 N. Pacific Ave.), will give neighbors and business owners a chance to speak with city officials and construction experts.  This dialogue is crucial to ongoing planning efforts for Phase II, so everyone is encouraged to input their suggestions at tonight’s meeting.

Penn Avenue Community Meeting Photo

Arsenal 360 Night

Get ready for a special family fun night at Arsenal Elementary and Arsenal Middle School on Wednesday, May 6th at 5:30 PM. In partnership with A+ Schools and the Pittsburgh Public Schools, the PEP Rally Program will be  jointly hosting Arsenal 360 Night, a special evening designed to celebrate diversity and showcase the many stories and cultures of Arsenal families. This event has been made possible through the Sprout Fund’s Global Switchboard Community of Practice grant.  Everyone is encouraged to extend this invitation to other families and anyone else who might be interested in this multicultural event. Below are some flyers printed in English, Spanish, Chinese, French, and Arabic!

 

Arsenal360Night_English

Arsenal360Night_Spanish

Arsenal360Night_Chinese

Arsenal360Night_French

Arsenal360Night_Arabic

Garfield Night Market!

Are you partial to moonlit walks in the springtime? Do you enjoy browsing outdoor markets? Well, you’re in luck because the Garfield Night Market is here to satisfy your good-weather whimsy with some homemade foods and crafts tonight (5/1) on N. Pacific Ave. As part of the monthly Unblurred gallery crawl, the Garfield Night Market functions as a small-business incubator in a community-oriented environment; neighbors become vendors for the night by offering specialty goods to gallery crawlers in the pursuit of craftiness. To learn more about this ‘First Fridays’ event, visit garfieldnightmarket.org  or follow the market on Facebook.

Garfield Night Market

Thanks for Walking with Us!

Thanks for helping us demonstrate our community’s grocery needs yesterday! Such neighborhood support is essential to furthering our conversation about the future of 5200 Penn Avenue. We must continue joining forces to maintain this momentum, and effect real change, for a grocery store in Garfield.

If we don’t stay committed to the possibility of a Penn Avenue grocery store, then ALDI might just sell the building to the highest bidder (read: commercial developers with no stake in our community). Nobody wants another auto-parts chain popping up within a local ‘food desert,’ so please help us turn the oasis of a grocery store into a reality for Penn Avenue!IMG_20150318_180336911

 

Aldi, “Won’t you be our neighbor?”

 

Aldi is deciding whether or not to open a new grocery store at the former Bottom Dollar location (5200 Penn Avenue). We are organizing a show of support for this initiative, a demonstration of Garfield’s neighborhood buying power. Come join us this Wednesday (3/18) at 6pm.

Neighbors will congregate at the former Bottom Dollar location and proceed, en masse, walking down to the Aldi on Baum Blvd. Together, we can show Aldi just what kind of loyal customers they are missing out on if they refuse to build a store at 5200 Penn Ave. We are planning for a leisurely walk, but will also be offering transportation services as needed.

The more neighbors who walk together next week (to keep a grocery store in the community), the less distance we’ll have to walk in the future (to meet our grocery needs). Please help our neighborhood ‘turn out the tote’ bags on Wednesday. Let’s get to walking! #Walk2Aldi

For more event information, and to sign up, call 412-206-9849

ALDI flyer