South Pittsburgh Reporter - Serving South Pittsburgh Since 1939

By Tom Smith
South Pittsburgh Reporter Editor 

An old idea, Haberman Corridor has a plan for the future

 


Improvements to the Haberman Corridor in Beltzhoover and connecting it to Upper McKinley Park are not new ideas, but have been discussed in the neighborhood dating back years, explained Jamil Bey, facilitator of a public meeting held in Upper McKinley Park to explain the new plan.

In 2007, the Beltzhoover Neighborhood Council worked with Penn State to think about improvements to the neighborhood.

Growing up in Beltzhoover, Mr. Bey reminisced, “The whole park was our park, it was connected. We used this park, kids were in this park ‘til all hours of the night. It was a place, it was an important part of our community and it’s not doing that anymore. It’s not connected, we don’t feel that it’s connected, because there’s not as much to do in the park.”

Over the course of four previous community meetings including a “walkshop” along the Haberman Corridor, the plan has evolved taking into consideration how Beltzhoover residents walk the neighborhood. He noted people often walk along the bus route instead of up Haberman because of the steeper grade.

Carl Bergamini, senior associate with Pfaffmann + Associates landscape architects for the project, said during the process they looked at how the landscape architecture, storm water and urban design come together to connect the neighborhoods.

“The most important aspect of this plan is you, the community, you the neighborhoods,” Mr. Bergamini said.

For the study, the Haberman Corridor was considered the area from McKinley Park extending over to the former Beltzhoover School. The corridor would then extend down, linking to the South Hills Junction and Warrington Recreation Center.

He said at some points it was a “paper street” that didn’t show up on any maps and at other places it was more of a trail. It also presented an opportunity to connect McKinley Park, through the Haberman Corridor, to the Emerald View Park in Mt. Washington and Allentown.

Mr. Bergamini explained they looked at the corridor not as one big project, but as a series of little project that could be chipped away at until finally completed. The trail was divided into three segments: from the Warrington Avenue gateway at South Hills Junction to the school area; around the school; and, from the school to the park. In addition, the “bus route” was pegged as another area of interest.

Issues surrounding the Warrington Avenue gateway to corridor included: The Port Authority maintenance area with the green fence; overgrown lots; sidewalks and steps in disrepair; and, the streetscape along Warrington in need of work.

Mr. Bergamini suggested making this area a “safe haven” for pedestrians by repairing sidewalks and steps and greening the Port Authority fence by adding a screen or mesh and allowing vines to grow into it. Adding storm water or “pocket parks” to capture rain water going up Haberman toward the school would also help by adding greenspaces.

He also proposed improving the lighting and walkways going down into the junction to increase access for the neighborhood.

Asked about what is currently happening with the green fence at the Port Authority maintenance yard, Mr. Bey explained the authority is looking to replace the current fence with a chain-link fence against area residents’ wishes. The neighbors would prefer a line of trees to block some of the noise, dust and industrial view of the site.

He added the authority will be required to have a hearing before the City of Pittsburgh Zoning Board to install the chain-link fence and residents are prepared to testify against the proposal.

Mr. Bergamini said adding trees and some “bump outs” could narrow the road in the area and help to calm or slow the traffic.

The area around the former Beltzhoover School, for the purpose of the study, is being called The School House Trail. He noted after about Loyal Way, Haberman stops being a street for vehicular traffic and becomes “somewhat of a wilderness” and is pedestrian only path at that point.

Mr. Bey added after the school closed the amount of foot traffic on the path declined to almost nothing.

“If you had a nice trail there, it would activate that space. We could then say, “What do you want in that school?”

Mr. Bergamini continued that the greening of part of the alley, kind of like it is now, would allow pedestrian and vehicle access while using brick paving to permit water to be absorbed. Adding greenery on the edges makes it more of a walking and biking path and less a street for cars, but that they would also be permitted.

The McKinley Branch, a sort of spur off of the park, could be used to get area residents better get into the park. It could be recreated as another “green alley” with rain or community gardens, permeable brick paving and greenery along the edges.

The study also identifies a new entrance from the McKinley Branch to make it easier for residents to come into the park.

The Beltzhoover Loop would basically follow the bus routes and could benefit from sidewalk repairs and street trees.

Although not part of the study, Mr. Bergamini said the neighborhood could also benefit from infill housing as a way to stimulate growth in the neighborhood and get eyes on the street.

 

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