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Streetscape project receives a boost

Thursday, January 17, 2008
By Carole Gilbert Brown
Pittsburgh Post Gazette

U.S. Rep. Tim Murphy, R-Upper St. Clair, is not giving up on his intent to revitalize sections of Carnegie, Heidelberg and Scott.

Though his bill to supply more than $2 million in federal transportation funds for a tri-community streetscape improvement project twice passed the House of Representatives but remains stalled in the Senate, Mr. Murphy earlier this month added two new sources of potential help and inspiration into the mix.

At a meeting in Carnegie attended by representatives from all three municipalities, Mr. Murphy brought along Arthur Ziegler Jr., president of the nonprofit Pittsburgh History and Landmarks Foundation and Dr. Howard B. Slaughter Jr., chief executive officer of Landmarks Community Capital Corp. of Pittsburgh, an arm of PHLF that provides funding for housing and economic development in Western Pennsylvania.

“The remarkable things about these towns is how they’ve come back after the [2004] flood,” Mr. Murphy said.

Dr. Slaughter was impressed by something else.

“I think it’s great that all of you have come together because many communities don’t do that,” he said, proceeding then to ask the representatives what their primary goals are.

Carnegie Council member Dorothy Kelly replied “business development.” Her colleague, Bob Kollar, expanded that theme, noting that the three communities are “perfectly located” between the airport and Downtown, with interstates on both sides and even a public busway.

“To me, it’s the central area of Western Pennsylvania. It should be booming,” he said.

Heidelberg Mayor Ken LaSota would like to see the areas become more “walkable,” which he believes would improve residents’ quality of life.

He pointed out that Heidelberg’s section of Route 50 once was a main street, but now it’s a four-lane highway similar to Carnegie’s Mansfield Boulevard/West Main Street.

Leigh White, executive director of the Carnegie Community Development Corp., said business development isn’t the only issue; work force development is critical, too.

Dr. Slaughter and Mr. Ziegler encouraged the local officials to look at the bigger picture and figure out what assets they want to showcase and build on. For example, a boat launch that spotlights Chartiers Creek could be built in Carnegie.

“We have resources all over that can help, but first we have to figure out the game plan,” Mr. Ziegler said.

Mayor LaSota suggested that streetscape improvements can be contagious, “If this goes, I have visions of it going all down Route 50 to South Fayette and Bridgeville,” he said.

The proposed $2 million streetscape program that is awaiting funding would affect Route 50 in Heidelberg from Third to First streets and Carothers Avenue in Glendale section of Scott, which extends to Third and West Main streets in Carnegie. The beautification project would include in part new lighting, benches, planters and trash receptacles.

Mr. Murphy extolled the architectural and historical heritage of the three towns.

“This isn’t a diamond-in-the-rough. It’s a diamond that’s just waiting for someone to polish it up,” he said.

Carole Gilbert Brown is a freelance writer.
First published on January 17, 2008 at 6:28 am

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