Preserving and Improving the Quality of Life in the 14th Ward, Pittsburgh, PA.
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History and Involvement of the Squirrel Hill Urban Coalition: 1972 – Present History

Introduction
The Squirrel Hill Urban Coalition (SHUC) is a non-profit corporation founded in 1972. It’s mission, as set forth in the By-Laws is “… to improve the 14th Ward of the City of Pittsburgh through educational and cooperative endeavors of individuals and groups from the area seeking to enhance the physical and social attributes of the community.” Key milestones in the history of SHUC cover a range of issues, including but not limited to, Education, Public Safety, Business District Improvements, Land Use, Parks and Recreation, and Long Range Planning. A timeline of some of these milestones is set forth below.

1972 -1979

  • Organized and implemented cooperative efforts between the City and the Forbes Avenue businesses between Murray and Shady to replace the water and sewer infrastructure, repave Forbes, and widen and repave the sidewalks.

1980 -1989

  • Opposed the construction of a ten story high rise on Northumberland Street across from the Schenley Park Golf Course, which led to the present townhouse development.
  • Organized the opposition to the City's plan to lease the Schenley Golf Course to a nine-hole commercial venture that proposed fencing, a lighted driving range, and liquor license. This opposition effort ultimately facilitated the restoration and the management of the Golf Course to Carnegie Mellon University (CMU).
  • Developed a Cooperation Agreement between SHUC and CMU for an aesthetic and neighborhood friendly parking garage at Forbes and Beeler Avenues, as well as provided for community review and input into other building projects on its campus.
  • Acquired the Wightman Elementary School for use as a Community center for multiple community based activities and programs. Subsequently sold the building to the Carriage House Children’s’ Center, who rehabilitated the building.
  • Successfully opposed the Pittsburgh School District's plan to stop bussing students to Colfax Elementary School from the western part of Squirrel Hill

1990 -1995

  • Initiated a long-range planning process, which resulted in the publication of a long-range planning and development proposal for the City of Pittsburgh's 14th Ward.
  • Introduced the concept of the extension of Frick Park to the Monongahela River and the residential development of the Nine Mile Run slag dump, which was part of the long- range plan, to then, City Councilman, Bob O’Connor. O’Connor brought this development concept to the attention of Mayor Tom Murphy who implemented the Summerset Development at Frick Park and Parkland Nature Preserve along Nine Mile Run.
  • Successfully opposed the Pittsburgh School District plan to eliminate the Scholars Program at Taylor Allderdice High School.
  • Working with the City, developed and implemented a pedestrian safety traffic light and crosswalk along Forbes Avenue in the business district, as well as a crossing system at the Forbes and Murray, and Forbes and Shady corners.
  • Developed and implemented the Squirrel Hill Citizens Patrol, a neighborhood crime prevention program, with the City Police Department.
  • Represented the community views and concerns in order to retain the Giant Eagle grocery store on Murray Avenue in Squirrel Hill, which led to a store renovation.
  • Represented the community concerns and interests regarding building proposals by the Jewish Community Center (JCC), the Jewish Education Institute (JEI) and the Jewish Agency on Aging (JAA) which resulted in a reconfiguration of the originally proposed expansions. The final plan resulted in the Darlington Avenue JCC building, Weinberg Terrace, an assisted living facility on Bartlett Street, the renovation of the former St. Philomena School into the Community Day School, and new and renovated facilities on Browns Hill Road, at the Charles Morris Nursing facility.

1996 - Present

  • Organized the opposition to the original development plan for the Summerset Development at Frick Park, resulting in a less dense and more aesthetic residential community.
  • Lobbied against changes in Title I funds allocation that would have distributed funds based on the socioeconomic level of the neighborhood in which a school was located, and not on the actual population of the school. Minadeo, Colfax, Linden and Reizenstein would have been deprived of any such funding based on that funding formula.
  • Supported the creation of the Colfax Spanish Academy and expansion to K-8.
  • Successfully worked to reduce the density of the Beechwood Commons development project.
  • Organized and supported the CAN IT program, which contributed to a cleaner business district.
  • Helped to orchestrate the design and implementation of the mural located in the Starbucks parking lot on lower Murray Avenue.
  • Instrumental in reinstating the Bach, Beethoven and Brunch Sunday morning concerts in Mellon Park (2005).
  • Organized and supported the Squirrel Hill Litter Patrol, a grassroots effort by community residents to eradicate litter from the business district and residential streets.

Summary
For thirty-five years, the SHUC has been an active and important link in the community. It has served as a sounding board for new ideas, as well as a “watchdog” in the areas of public safety, education, residential quality, the business district, and parks and open space. With its focus on the quality of life in the 14th Ward, the SHUC continues to monitor activities and future developments in the community through a range of standing committees.

 
  Squirrel Hill Urban Coalition © 2006