Author Archive

Spring Concert

April 28, 2010

Come out and enjoy an evening celebrating the talents of the students of Wilkinsburg. The evening will feature the Elementary Band, the Middle/Senior High Band, High School African Drumming Ensemble and the Middle and High School Choirs.

7 p.m., Wednesday, May 5, in the high school auditorium, 747 Wallace Avenue. Admission is free.

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Watch the Weeds

April 25, 2010

It didn’t seem possible a few weeks ago, but the grass is actually starting to grow again under our feet. Before your yard gets too out of control, here are some of the borough rules and regulations concerning grass and vegetation.

Grass and vegetation can not exceed a 12 inches in height, throw off any unpleasant or noxious odor, or conceal any unsanitary deposit, or to create or produce pollen. Property owners are responsible for removing, trimming or cutting all grass, weeds or other vegetation  that is found to be in violation.

If the property is in violation, owners or occupants can receive a citation requiring them to cut the grass within five days of receipt of notice. Failure to comply can result in fines and if the property stays uncut, the borough may cut your grass for you and send you a bill for the cost plus 10 percent.

If you would like to report a violation of this ordinance, contact the Wilkinsburg Code Enforcement Office at (412) 244-2923.

Code inspectors investigate structures and properties in order to ensure compliance with the borough’s housing, zoning, graphics, health, sanitation, and safety regulations.

Be Counted!

April 25, 2010

Every 10 years, the United States Government requires a population and housing count. The results will determine the distribution of more than $400 billion in federal funds to local communities for better health care, improved care for children and seniors, better roads and transportation, and improved schools. This is why it is so important for all of us to participate in this year’s census. When we are not counted, we lose funds—not for just one year—we lose funds for 10 years.

NEED EXTRA MONEY? The Census Bureau is seeking local applicants for various part time positions. These jobs pay $15 per hour, with paid training and flexible hours. If you are interested, you can download an application at www.2010census.gov or call the following toll-free number: 1-866-861-2010.

Motivational Speaker Comes to Wilkinsburg High School

March 4, 2010

On Thursday, March 11, 2010, Wilkinsburg School District will welcome internationally renowned motivational speaker Milton “Bigg Milt” Creagh, one of the most highly demanded speakers for teens in America. Mr. Creagh will deliver his dynamic anti-drug/violence message during two separate presentations to students in grades 5-8 and 9-12. He will address grades 5-8 from 9 to 10:30 a.m.,  and grades 9-12 from 12:30 to 2 p.m. Both presentations will take place at the Wilkinsburg High School Auditorium.

Best known for his hard-hitting, inspirational talks to high school students, Mr. Creagh speaks to more than 200,000 young adults annually, and has spoken in 49 states, as well as Canada, South America, Central America, the Caribbean and Africa. Mr. Creagh’s approach to spreading his message is unique in that he utilizes the medium of hip-hop music, which he says has too often been used to promote a pro-drug usage message among young people. To be able to compete with the negative messages of some hip-hop artists, Mr. Creagh enlisted the help of top-notch producers in the hip-hop industry to create music that would appeal to young people, while educating them on the dangers of illicit drug use.

Mr. Creagh’s appearance is part of the district’s ongoing efforts to provide a safe, drug-free environment for students. To ensure that Mr. Creagh’s message extends to the greater community of Wilkinsburg, the district is inviting all parents and several community leaders and groups to attend the event.

Community Art

February 20, 2010

There is no shortage of opportunities for concerned residents to serve the Wilkinsburg community. The latest venue for community service is the newly formed Community Art and Civic Design Commission. The 11-member body will include design and arts professionals, community representatives, and council members.
“The Community Art and Civic Design Commission will be a valuable resource in Wilkinsburg,” says council member Tracey Evans. “The commission was established to review design proposals to encourage high quality design for our community. Very importantly, the commission will also seek feedback from residents and business owners about art and design projects.”

For the past year, a group of Wilkinsburg residents have participated on a Public Art Steering Committee to develop public art guidelines and procedures for Wilkinsburg. This process was connected to the borough’s comprehensive plan, and involved many community meetings, learning about best practices for art and design review, seeing examples of public art projects and review bodies, and considering what methods would be ideal for Wilkinsburg.

The steering committee identified that a legislative body is needed in Wilkinsburg to review art, architecture, landscape architecture, memorials, and monuments for public property and commercial property. The committee created the legislation for the Community Art and Civic Design Commission. In addition to reviewing projects, the commission will have the ability to seek community feedback on art and design projects, engage in research and planning efforts, and organize educational programs and materials about art and design for the community.

“As a Wilkinsburg resident interested in creating public art projects for our borough, I’m thrilled there will be a qualified sounding board to refine proposals. Participating in the steering committee has been a rewarding experience,” says artist Lazae LaSpina.

The Borough of Wilkinsburg received a grant from The Heinz Endowments for this project. The borough hired the Office of Public Art (OPA) to consult on the project. OPA is a partnership between the Greater Pittsburgh Arts Council and the City of Pittsburgh. As part of their work, Renee Piechocki and Lea Donatelli participated in the borough’s comprehensive plan process and established the Public Art Steering Committee.

“This commission will be a model for other municipalities in the region who are looking to establish a method to review public art and design projects,” says Renee Piechocki of the Office of Public Art. “The next step for the commission is to establish bylaws and guidelines. We will be benchmarking national programs to seek out best practices and develop methods that will work in Wilkinsburg.”

Community members who are interested in learning more can visit the Borough’s website http://www.wilkinsburgpa.gov to review the legislation, read the guidelines for the commission’s membership, and download a talent bank application. For additional information, contact Marla Marcinko at 412-244-2906 or mmarcinko@wilkinsburgpa.gov.

Free Book Delivery

February 20, 2010

The Outreach Program of the Wilkinsburg Public Library has been serving homebound residents of the Wilkinsburg area for 30 years. We deliver books and other library materials to patrons unable to visit the library on their own. The books, including large print titles and other materials, are delivered to a patron’s door with just a phone call to the library. This free program is available thanks to the donations collected through FOLLOW, the library friend’s group. If you would like to donate to the program or to take advantage of this free service call Wilkinsburg Public Library at 412-244-4378 and speak to Tom Shaw, the Outreach Librarian.

Correction

February 20, 2010

Council member Pam Macklin’s e-mail address is macklin4council@aol.com. an incorrect address was published in the previous issue of the Sun. We regret the error.

Wilkinsburg Is Looking Ahead – And The Future Looks Green

November 23, 2009

 

 

 

The Borough of Wilkinsburg recognizes the importance of having trees in the community, and the benefit of maintaining its “urban forest.” The trees in the parks, yards, public spaces and streetscapes play a vital role in the health and economic vitality of the community. Trees reduce runoff from storms and prevent erosion; they improve the quality of our air and water, minimize the cost of heating and cooling of our homes and businesses, increase property values, and ultimately, enhance the desirability of our neighborhoods and commercial districts.

 

The Borough of Wilkinsburg also recognizes that in order to maintain its valuable urban forest, it is vital to continually replant trees. In the 1930s and 40s, after the Great Depression, and again after World War II, major tree planting efforts occurred with expansion into urban residential areas. It was during this time that the majority of trees were planted in cities and towns. Generally speaking, large tree planting initiatives have not occurred since then, either in Wilkinsburg or in other cities and towns. This has resulted in an imbalance in the age distribution in the tree populations. That means that most trees in urban forests are around the same age and will likely decline and die around the same time.

 

In response to this issue, the Borough of Wilkinsburg Citizens Advisory Committee on Shade Trees has partnered with Pennsylvania Community Forests and Duquesne Light Company to receive a Municipal Tree Restoration Program (MTRP) grant in the amount of $3,500. The grant will be used to re-plant trees on the south side of Penn Avenue from the intersection of Superior Street down to the statue of Abraham Lincoln.

 

MTRP grants are funded by local utility companies and administered through Pennsylvania Community Forests, a nonprofit organization that guides a statewide program to provide technical and financial assistance for communities and volunteer groups. The main objectives of the MTRP grant are to encourage communities to choose appropriate trees for planting under utility wires, and to encourage the improvement of municipality-based tree programs. Since the MTRP grant is a matching grant, the Borough will match the $3,500 either in cash or with an in-kind match such as the labor contributed by the volunteers to plant the trees. The MTRP grant will allow Wilkinsburg to replace poor quality trees too large to grow under utility lines with smaller-maturing, more appropriate species.

 

The tree replacement effort will include the removal of 13 trees and the planting of 36 new trees. The trees to be removed have been identified by the borough and by Duquesne Light and are located on the south side of the 1300 and 1400 blocks of Penn Avenue, and are within the borough’s right of way. These trees are either mature and in poor condition, or are expected to grow too large to safely remain beneath the overhead electrical lines. The work will be done at no cost to the adjacent property owners or to the Borough of Wilkinsburg and will be done in cooperation with Duquesne Light Company. The Citizens Advisory Committee on Shade Trees, Nine Mile Run Watershed Association, and Friends of Pittsburgh’s Urban Forest will plant 36 healthy, utility-compatible trees in the spring of 2010. The plan includes the planting of 29 trees at the Penn Avenue location, with an additional four trees in the 500 and 600 blocks of Mifflin Avenue, and three in the 700 block of Savannah Avenue.

 

The transformation along Penn Avenue will result in very noticeable changes, with a significant improvement expected over the long term. The new trees will be chosen based on their mature size so that they can safely reach a maximum height below utility wires, providing a long-lasting urban forest. By choosing the “right plant for the right place,” the Wilkinsburg urban forest will continue to thrive and give back to its community. It is our intention that these efforts will play a role in the preservation of our urban forest for future generations to enjoy, just as we have appreciated the efforts of our tree-minded community members who have gone before us.

Art in Public Places

November 23, 2009

 

For the past year, a group of Wilkinsburg residents have served on a public art steering committee to develop guidelines and procedures for art in piublic places in Wilkinsburg. This process was connected to the borough’s comprehensive plan, and involved many community meetings, learning about best practices for art and design review, seeing examples of public art projects and review bodies, and considering what methods would be ideal for Wilkinsburg.

 

The steering committee found the need for a legislative body to review art, architecture, landscape architecture, memorials and monuments for public property and commercial private property. The committee started to create the framework for the Wilkinsburg Community Art and Civic Design Commission. In addition to reviewing projects, the commission will seek community feedback on art and design projects, engage in research and planning efforts, and organize educational programs and materials about art and design for the community.

 

The enabling legislation for the Wilkinsburg Community Art and Civic Design Commission has been presented to the borough council. The legislation was authorized for advertisement on November 4 and iwas adopted on November 18. A copy of the legislation, Ordinance No. 2831, is available on the Wilkinsburg Borough Web site, http://www.wilkinsburgpa.gov.

 

Citizens who are interested in applying for a position on the 11-member commission may contact borough manager Marla Marcinkoat 412-244-2906 or mmarcinko@wilkinsburgpa.gov. Applications will be posted on the borough Web site  and will be sent to interested parties.

 

The process was led by the Office of Public Art (OPA), who was hired by the Borough of Wilkinsburg with funding from The Heinz Endowments. OPA is a partnership between the Greater Pittsburgh Arts Council and the City of Pittsburgh.

Correction

November 23, 2009

 

An article on tax abatement in last month’s issue stated that qualified investors could be be exempt from additional real estate property taxes resulting from improvements made to residential properties in a designated portion of Wilkinsburg. The plan covers all of Wilkinsburg.