MAY 19th Community Meeting #3
Updated: Jun 9, 2022
ALLEGHENY DWELLINGS CHOICE NEIGHBORHOOD
COMMUNITY MEETING #3
DRAFT REVIEW & SUMMARY
Thursday, May 19, 2022, 4-7 PM at Allegheny Dwellings
Housing Station Summary
MIXED USE - People like the idea of a community space, youth / after‐school spaces, fitness, computer access, community rooms as part of new housing development.
PORCHES & BALCONIES - There is common interest in having porches / balconies where possible.
HOUSING STYLES - No real consensus on preferred architectural style, colors, elements – some interest in modern styles but wanting “warm” colors. Everyone loves Sandstone Quarry.
PARKING - Residents are concerned about parking, and how much parking will be provided and needed. Buffering and setbacks for parking seemed to be a popular idea.
BELLEAU DRIVE - Concerns around the configuration of Belleau Drive safety and congestion.
LANARK STREET - Further studies to be done at this location to address conerns related to water, ice,views and parking. Further consideration of less density, preferably single family townhomes over stacked with consideration to views and surrounding homes. Note: the ROW behind the site is still usable for access from the North – from Rising Main – but drops off sharply south. The berm arcing up from the north corner of the site is at least a full story if not more above than the existing parking lot behind. Site survey is needed for further development
MOBILITY - Many have expressed difficulty with the existing steps, and moving up and down the hills.
HOUSING MIX - Residents prefer single‐family townhomes to stacked. Note: The needed unit mix will require some stacked townhomes.
Neighborhood Station Summary
What neighborhood improvements are most important to you?
The priorities of Allegheny Dwellings residents and broader neighborhood residents were slightly different.
OPEN SPACES - Common interest especially in family/youth‐oriented spaces. Comfortable gathering places/seating areas next to play spaces for kids – residents like the diversity of amenities shown and not one or the other.
MOBILITY & SAFETY - Allegheny Dwellings residents expressed they need connections to not feel isolated, and a better and safer access to transportation. Having new bus shelters along the routes that they use most and safe crossings, lighting, and traffic calming measures, along with a more direct connection to these seem to be important (“safe crossings”, “safety”, “access to transportation”). This was tied for them with a better maintenance of stairs and streets, which prompted long‐term residents and some ambassadors to think about the time where Allegheny Dwellings was open for neighbors to connect up and down the hill and how that felt like one community where they knew each other and had a good relationship (“reconnecting to other communities”, “making the community as one, bring them together”).
PORT AUTHORITY There was a consensus among residents that the bus stops are poorly maintained and are highly used. A small group expressed interest in the idea of e‐bikes to help get up the hills when necessary and thought it could be a good idea to help residents with the last mile from the bus stops/transportation hubs when needed.
GREENWAYS Neighborhood residents liked the idea of a connected greenway network that will take them to other parks/green spaces so they can walk, bike, or take their children to the park through other than the current sloped streets. They made a point that this greenway will have to feel safe and that if it happens it has to be maintained so it does not end up as an illegal dumping area.
OPEN SPACES In general, there were/are doubts about the potential of “clean to green” programs for vacant lots and when explained, residents had positive feedback about bringing back to life some of the abandoned/ vacant lots in the areas near their homes, always thinking about the conversion of those to spaces their children could use.
GATHERING PLACES Residents expressed an emphasis on gathering places for their children to be outside and be safe and suggested places like a YMCA ("Homewood?") that other HACP developments have, a community center, or a children’s club so they can come together, know each other, and support each other.
What kind of activities would you like to see in the neighborhood greenways and open spaces? What kind of support is needed for successful greenways?
After seeing that we can revive the greenways and connect the neighborhood through them, residents (AD and neighborhood) were really interested in seeing activities for children in those areas and stated that it had potential to be a place where children and families come together, or where they can simply go to exercise instead of going to other parts of PGH to go outside in nature.
Trails and mile markers and activities related to sports and healthy living were the ones residents talked most about. They would like to see dedicated spaces for children where they can learn about nature (such a pond with fish and signage or panels explaining the fauna at the greenways), or more flexible spaces where they can have pop up yoga classes, stress relieving activities, exercise equipment. Some residents mentioned why not to make it a unique greenway destination adding a few mountain bike trails, riding, or a climbing wall since the slope is already there.
Existing greenway, they made a point of feeling unsafe because of poor lighting conditions, poor maintenance of the trails and stairs that connect up and down, and poor maintenance in general. They were positive that this can be solved and they can be very popular neighborhood destinations they would use and where they would do activities with their children.
Which bus routes would you like to see improved with transit stops upgrades? Which routes need to be studied to include longer hours of service?
There was a big consensus among Allegheny Dwellings residents that bus routes are okay if you want to get downtown, but not to get around the Northside. They expressed their frustration, in some cases, of wanting to go to Propel School area to access some of the businesses over there or when Propel School was helping with access to fresh food and having to take a bus downtown to transfer and come up north. The most repeated comment was to study an express route that would take you through the Northside to be able to get to key amenities in the neighborhood.
Bus shelters were very popular for inclement weather conditions, but residents also said that they need easier, safer access to them, and specially pointed out lighting after dark hours. Also, there was a consensus that even if the Route 11 (Fineview) is the easiest to access, the frequency of buses and its reliability is very low. They thought it would be nice to have sidewalks and shortened ways through Allegheny Dwellings to access bus stops so it is easier to come back home with a load of groceries or with kids from school.
Most of the neighborhood residents use their car as the main transportation, but the residents living just east of Allegheny Dwellings (Meadville/Catoma residents) agree that the stops that are near their house are highly used by residents and that the bus frequency is not enough for the quantity of people frequenting transit. They sympathized with residents and would like to see shelters so they can be protected from different climate conditions and think that one bus line might not be enough for the residents in that area since it is more accessible for them than the Federal bus stops.
Most residents added that traffic calming measures in big connectors (Federal, Perrysville) will go a long way in terms of safety since they feel like highways instead of streets, in addition to adding sidewalks or widening them to make it a walkable place.
People Station Summary
In the case of childcare, no one discussed a lack of slots or availability, instead they discussed the difficulty in accessing the childcare either because of (1) transportation barriers or (2) hours of availability or (3) both. My impression wasn’t that residents felt that “there are more than enough spots available”, but that the issues of slots is perhaps further downstream or less immediate than the other issues that were raised – if you can’t get there, or they aren’t open, the number of available slots doesn’t really matter.
Many residents discussed the transportation barriers that exists as their primary concern – though many also pointed out they didn’t have young kids, specifically many were grandparents, and were conveying their impressions based on conversations with their own children who were young parents or others in the Dwellings. This may have biased the answers a bit, because transportation became a major theme woven through every section to a greater degree than perhaps expected. It seems that folks who didn’t have personal childcare, health, or employment concerns were mentioning the transportation barriers that would exist *if* they did have those concerns.
The other major theme, both in votes and conversation, was the need to improve hours, which echoes what we’ve heard from other residents in “People” conversations previously.
EARLY CHILDHOOD EDUCATION
In the Early Child Education section, we see similar sentiments come through, as residents voted heavily for “parent / child programs” and “connect with early learning programs” as their priorities. As in many other sections, residents expressed verbally their interest for on‐site or geographically nearby childcare programs with educational themes and many focused their commentary on programs that have previously existed at Allegheny Dwellings, but are no longer offered. Headstart came up multiple times from residents, and then program references to Beverly Jewel Wall Lovelace Out of School Time Program “BJWL” (after‐school and summer programs) were mentioned as a previous successful program offered at the Dwellings – with residents expressing their frustration that it had been taken away.
OUT OF SCHOOL PROGRAMS
The Out of School Programs feedback was quite similar, just focused on an older age group. Residents expressed programs that used to exist – a cooking program, a rec center facility, boxing program, etc. – and many kids verbalized the leagues they like to be able to join at the Dwellings or nearby, with some even giving me specific sports program to write‐down. Parents said that they’d like to see these ideas combined with homework help and/or career skill building, and non‐Dwellings residents suggested the same – though I did get their impression that feedback was sometimes coming from a more judgmental or conservative place, i.e. “why don’t they at least offer financial literacy classes or something”. All together, it was very clear that kids, parents, and other Dwellings and non‐Dwellings residents alike were interested in much more programming that combined fun activities like sports or hobbies with more academic or life skill‐oriented programing to keep kids engaged while advancing academics and career goals. The specific questions of “why don’t they do X thing here anymore?” were also repeated regularly, some of which may have been nostalgia from long‐term residents, but it also conveyed a clear feeling that services and programs for residents have been quite obviously reduced over time.
Barriers to Employment
The Barriers to Employment section again focused quite heavily on transportation issues, with a number of residents suggesting the need for free bus passes. That said, others did say that the bus routes were easy to access and not a huge problem. Taken together, this highlights for me that “transportation issues” for some be a bit more complex than just the distance or proximity to bus routes. It should be stated that voting and comments were spread fairly evenly over every category in terms of employment. What came through the loudest was the need for a real, viable paths towards sustainable wage employment: education programs that lead to well‐paying jobs, apprentice or training programs that include decent wages from the start, and shorter‐term financial support to bring these opportunities within reach for job seekers. Whether residents focused on training, education, or short‐term financial supports seemed somehow less important to many than the paths themselves being realistic and clearly defined.
In the Health section, residents tended to have fewer questions and verbalize concerns less often. That said, mental health and the importance of supports/providers for mental health and trauma related issues did come up a number of times. Not surprisingly, the other significant issue was navigating the complexity of healthcare system – not knowing where to go for certain issues in general was the main theme.
TELL US WHAT YOU THINK:
Childcare: What would make childcare more accessible for you?
1. Improve hours, evenings, weekends (14 votes)
A. Evening hours so I can go to class
B. More hours to give parents time to make it happen
2. Help with transportation (22 votes)
Bus / shuttle
1. Increase the # of spots (0 votes)
a. Make it closer
b. Bring back summer camp
Early Childhood Education: How can we help children be ready for Kindergarten?
1. Provide parent / child programs (10 votes)
a. BJWL – Bring back homework
b. Connect with early learning programs (10 votes)
a. Increase options for small group learning (8 votes)
b. Provide books to families (5 votes)
c. Offer facilitated playgroups (5 votes)
Out of School Programs: What do you feel is most important for out of school programs?
Youth trade / training (16 votes)
Summer camp (3)
Homework then cooking program (1)
After school tutoring & small group workshops (17 votes)
Basketball program (1)
Football program (4)
5. Youth life‐skills workshops / partnerships (13)
Bigger YMCA (1)
Mindfulness & Wellness (12)
a. Financial literacy (2)
b. Community Center Seniors
c. Re‐Open the Rec Center
How can we reduce systematic barriers to employment?
Funding for caregivers while waiting to qualify for an ELRC (15 votes)
Connection w/transportation (13) + Free bus passes (2)
Connection with training programs (14)
Connection with Education programs (12)
What would improve your overall health?
Health insurance (3) - Health Bus (testing, resources, condoms, etc.) (1)
Health Bus (testing, resources, condoms, etc.) (1)
Knowing where to find providers (14)
Transportation to appointments (6)
Help scheduling appointments (1)
Culturally competent healthcare (3) + “Make all appointments”
Community health & wellness programs (9) - “Take medication on time”
Mental health programs (16)