Hilltop Summit brings neighborhoods together to share 2012 successes
Peter Kreuthmeier from the South Side Slopes Neighborhood Association talks about the latest projects of the association at the Hilltop Summit.
In a first, the Hilltop Alliance (HA) brought together representatives from member organizations for an evening of sharing, networking and even a little bragging.
The evening began with a performance of traditional dances by the Bhutanese Community Association of Pittsburgh Dance Group.
Hilltop Alliance Executive Director Pat Murphy started the presentations with an overview of the alliance and a briefing on the organization’s accomplishments in 2012.
Encompassing 12 Hilltop neighborhoods, the HA has representation from seven community groups and an at-large member. Its mission is to bring together, serve as a resource, and promote a common vision within the Hilltop neighborhoods.
Emphasizing multi-neighborhood engagement, the alliance is involved in partnering and collaborating on cross community programs and initiatives along with capacity building and technical assistance.
Involved in public safety initiatives, the HA has worked to organize and strengthen block groups; worked on “quality of life” issues; held skill building workshops and informational sessions; organized a National Night Out event; and, participated in the Zone 3 Public Safety Council and Pittsburgh Community Reinvestment Group’s Safe Neighborhoods Network.
This year, the alliance held the Youth Redefined Hilltop Youth L.E.A.D. Dialogue to Action with Pittsburgh High School Students; helped to establish the Hilltop Computer Center on Brownsville Road; published the Hilltop Human Services & Community Programs Directory; and, organized Fresh Fridays on the Hilltop to bring fresh produce to almost 500 families on the Hilltop this fall.
In the area of vacant property reuse and greening, the alliance helped to organize community clean-ups and facilitated the Green Toolbox Assessment and Plan to continue the greening process on the Hilltop.
The organization has also been working in “Keeping Homes on the Hilltop” by offering information and referral services. It has held homebuyer workshops and foreclosure prevention seminars. Along with partners in the community, the HA has offered energy efficiency and weatherization programs.
Recently, the alliance was awarded a $35,000 grant from the Design Center through the Neighborhood Renaissance Fund to start an in-depth housing study to understand preservation, stabilization and development initiatives in Allentown and Beltzhoover.
Member groups were then invited to make brief presentations on the work they have accomplished during 2012.
Presenting in alphabetical order, the first community group up was the Allentown CDC (ACDC).
Highlights from the ACDC presentation included: the completion of the latest phase of the Allentown Business District Safety Initiative. Seventeen area businesses participated in the initiative which added lighting and surveillance cameras to the corridor.
In addition, security fences and gates were upgraded and a new welcome mural was added at the corner of Beltzhoover and Warrington avenues. The community recently welcomed a Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh “Pop Up” library on Arlington Avenue.
The Beltzhoover Civic Association (BCA) emphasized community programs such as a youth Valentine’s Day dance and the upcoming Breakfast with Santa on December 8 at Warrington Recreation Center and the Beltzhoover Light Up Night also on Dec. 8 at Venson Park, corner of Gearing Avenue and Chalfont Street.
The BCA also hosts Feed the Community, a free monthly dinner at the Warrington Rec. Center. The monthly dinner was recently featured in the November 22 issue of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.
A community beautification project by the BCA for the design and implementation of Venson Park/Mini Park recently garnered a $15,000 grant from the Pittsburgh Neighborhood Renaissance Fund.
Among the things the Carrick Community Council (CCC) wanted to share with their neighbors was the group’s annual Carrick Goes Gardening event to showcase gardens throughout the neighborhood. In a related event, the CCC Beautification Committee organized a Garden Party to help fund community gardens and pay for flowers at L’Enfant and the Veterans Memorial.
The Carrick Block Watch organized Communities Against Crime, an anti-crime event held this summer in the 2600 block of Brownsville Road.
The CCC, through Economic Development South (EDS), Councilwoman Natalia Rudiak and Colteryahn Dairy, was awarded $50,000 from the Pittsburgh Neighborhood Renaissance Fund to study the 1900 block of Brownsville Road for a new “Dairy District.”
In addition to its Crusin’ on the Hilltop, Redd Up and Crank-It at the Clock, the Hilltop Economic Development Corporation (HEDC) has begun door-to-door canvassing and utilizing social media to attract more volunteers. In the works is a quarterly newsletter for the HEDC which will be mailed to interested residents and will be available digitally online.
Four Mount Oliver businesses have been selected for storefront renovations with funding assistance from Allegheny County and the HEDC plans to market the city’s Storefront Improvement Program to Knoxville businesses in the coming year.
The HEDC has also worked to apply and receive grants, facilitate fundraising and gain community support for Ormsby Park in Mount Oliver Borough.
Mount Oliver City/St. Clair Block Watch has had a busy year. The group recently completed a “Welcome to the Hilltop” signage and planting project at the corner of Wagner and Mountain Avenue.
Community members joined University of Pittsburgh students on Pitt Make a Difference Day to “Redd-Up” Wagner, Mountain and St. Joseph Street. Volunteers also painted the fence and baluster painting on Mountain Avenue.
Showing of its new logo, the Mount Washington Community Development Corporation (MWCDC) told their neighbors on the Hilltop about the four miles of trails that were built new or rehabilitated by the 15 full-time seasonal employees making up the Emerald Trail Crew.
Housing is also high on the organization’s priority list: it recently completed the rehabilitation of a market rate property on Eureka Street. In addition, ground breaking is scheduled for early 2013 on 67 market rate units in the Prospect School building, a $15 million investment.
The South Side Slopes Neighborhood Association is all about lighting projects. The SSSNA recently completed its third project involving lighting, a $250,000 project illuminating the 18th Street steps. The first two projects were the scrim on Brosville Street and the pylon at the corner of 18th and Josephine streets.
This year the Slopes association also held its annual StepTrek, a self-guided tour of the neighborhood highlighting the steps throughout the neighborhood.
The SSSNA is also involved in the rehabilitation of South Side Park along with a community garden at Bandi Shaum Park.
With the success of the first Hilltop Summit, the Hilltop Alliance plans to make it an annual event.