Developer discusses ideas to enclose vacant property on Grandview Ave.
September 22, 2020
Prospective board member introductions and plans for the vacant property at the corner of Grandview Avenue and Sweetbriar Street were the topics of a short virtual community forum hosted by the Mount Washington Community Development Corporation (MWCDC) last week.
MWCDC Executive Director Gordon Davidson announced the agenda for the 33 residents dialed into the virtual Zoom meeting. The organization decided to combine board nominee presentations and community development plans into a single meeting due to this year’s inability to meet in-person.
“This year, because of Covid-19, we’ve been stressed in terms of being able to facilitate presentations to the community,” Mr. Davidson. “So, we piggybacked on to the community forum meeting.”
Of the four MWCDC board nominees running for seats in November, only two were able to attend the meeting.
Sheen Sehgla, who has lived on Mount Washington for more than 10 years, said she is running for a board position because she wants to see more community development and help make the organization the best it can be.
Anna Zaydenberg was the second speaker. Ms. Zaydenberg has been a Mount Washington a resident for more than 4 years and had dreamed of living in the community since moving to the United States in 1992. She is looking to join the board to help the community grow and keep people safe.
John Norbut and Ken Gianella are also running for MWCDC board seats. New board terms will begin in January 2021 and the election is expected to take place in November.
Following the short presentations, MWCDC development committee co-chair Tom Tighe introduced Jeremy Wassel from Ellicott Development Company. The company, which is based out of Buffalo, New York owns the large, mostly vacant lot that sits between Grandview Avenue, Sweetbriar Street, and Augusta Street.
According to Mr. Tighe, the lot is mostly empty except for a small house at 110 Sweetbriar Street that has been vacant for more than 25 years. He added the property has been an eyesore to the community for some time.
While Ellicott Development Company had originally intended on developing the lot, they are now attempting to sell the property.
Mr. Wassel presented plans to demolish the abandoned home and replace the fencing around the perimeter of the lot. The company is hoping to complete demolition before winter; however, if they’re unable to receive city approval in time, the project may be delayed until spring.
Mr. Wassel also presented three options for new fencing.
The first option is to place a mesh privacy banner along the existing fence. The banner would be maroon and would display the Ellicott Development Company logo.
The second option would be to place a new fence along Grandview Avenue, Sweetbriar Street, and Augusta Street; however, due to city code, the fence can not be more than four feet tall.
The third option would be to build a six-foot privacy fence setback about 15 feet from the perimeter of the property. However, because the lot drops below street level, the six-foot fence would end up being lower than the four-foot fence in certain areas of the property.
Mr. Wassel said either the privacy banner or the new four-foot fence would be his company’s preference, and neither option generated negative feedback from residents on the call. A resident did express safety concerns with the six-foot fence option.
Another resident asked Mr. Wassel if his company would include a community welcome message on the privacy mesh cover as part of the first option. Mr. Tighe agreed with the recommendation.
“I think a welcome to Duquesne Heights sign would look good over there,” Mr. Tighe said.
Mr. Wassel said he would be open to placing a community welcome sign on the part of the mesh privacy banner facing Sweetbriar Street, so long as the company’s logo was present on the Grandview Avenue and Augusta Street sides.
Residents who wish to receive invitations to upcoming virtual community forum meetings can email firstname.lastname@example.org