Monday, November 25 - Keeping a Healthy and Happy Workforce
At the beginning of my administration we set out to improve the City workforce’s culture and encourage employees to be healthier and happier. With the cooperation and dedication of many City employees, we’ve done just that. I’m proud to say that our workforce is now more active (and interactive), working on their personal health goals while getting to know their colleagues through special wellness at work initiatives.
In 2007, we launched CityFit, Wellness at Work - an initiative led by the City’s first-ever Wellness Coordinator. If employees want to improve their lifestyle, CityFit offers a variety of low-cost or free programs to encourage healthy, active living. Since the launch of this program, we’ve been able to offer 15 activities for employees, including free health screenings and nutritional counseling, a smoking cessation program, team sports such as softball, basketball and dodgeball, as well as discounted rates for gym and recreational club memberships and foot races.
In 2011, CityFit began offering the Weight Watchers program at a discount to City employees. In the summer of 2012, we celebrated the program’s success, with 130 City employees losing a combined total of 2,000 pounds – a literal ton of weight! Did you know that for each employee who transitions from medically obese to a healthy weight, the City saves over $2,200 a year? Since 2007, we’ve saved over $1 million in decreased workers’ compensation.
Since CityFit’s introduction, we’ve seen a dramatic increase in the level of participation and commitment of City employees in starting and maintaining healthy lifestyles. I truly believe that a healthier workforce is a happier workforce, and I’m proud of all our CityFit participants. I would like to thank our wellness partner, Highmark, the CityFit Wellness Committee and all our dedicated staff that help CityFit run successfully. I’m proud to be a part of a health conscious and active workforce, and I commend all City employees for their efforts to make personal health a priority.
posted 11/25/13 @ 10:54 am
Wednesday, November 20 - Serving Our City
November 21 – Serving Our City
Tonight I have the opportunity to celebrate the graduation of our 9th Civic Leadership Academy class! CLA, an initiative of our servePGH program, is 10-week course about local government created to foster informed, effective and inspired community and civic leadership. I’m pleased to say that nearly 150 engaged leaders have graduated from the program to date. While preparing for this event, I was reminded of when the concept for our servePGH program first began.
In 2009, in response to President Obama’s Call to Service, I joined 16 other mayors from across the nation to form the Cities of Service Coalition. I signed a Declaration of Service, resolving to make impact volunteerism a significant part of my administration. With a Leadership Grant from Bloomberg Philanthropies and the Rockefeller Foundation, we hired the City’s first-ever Chief Service Officer and launched our servePGH initiative. For the last two years, ServePGH has worked off a strategic blueprint that outlines initiatives addressing our most pressing challenges citywide. Staffed by a team of AmeriCorps VISTA members (the first-ever use of national service members in a Pittsburgh government office), servePGH has grown to nine high-impact service initiatives:
From reducing our city’s blight, to mentoring our young people and reducing our carbon footprint, servePGH has made a big difference in Pittsburgh. When I started this initiative, I did so with high expectations of what could be accomplished, and I’m proud to say that our residents have exceeded those expectations. ServePGH has engaged more than 6,100 volunteers in over 38,000 hours of service. Harnessing the power of volunteers and working closely with City government resources, we have revitalized over 1,000 City blocks, collected 54,000 pounds of litter, repaired the homes of 120 disabled, senior and veteran residents, and more.
From Fineview to Lawrenceville, Mount Washington to Homewood, servePGH is creating a more service-oriented and engaged city, and I’m proud to be a part of it. I’m extremely glad to live and work in a place with a strong neighbors-helping-neighbors attitude, right down to our own City workforce. Since 2011, the City of Pittsburgh has been the #1 employer partner of the United Way of Allegheny County’s “Be a Middle School Mentor” program. We were pleased to receive the Fred Rogers Good Neighbor Award from the United Way earlier this year. Having been a mentor myself, I know the personal rewards of active involvement in our local communities.
Like so many of our success stories, servePGH’s impact on our communities would not have been possible if it weren’t for the joint efforts of so many. I’d like to thank the Corporation for National and Community Service, The Rockerfeller Foundation, Bloomberg Philanthropies, Cities of Service, The Home Depot Foundation, The Coca-Cola Foundation, Richard King Mellon Foundation and The Pittsburgh Foundation for their financial support and oversight. I want to thank the City Department of Public Works for their help with many of our initiatives.
Finally, I thank all of our hard working community groups and volunteers who have made serving our city a personal priority. The future of our city and its neighborhoods lies in engaging citizens to work hand in hand with local government, and servePGH does just that, creating a better, safer and more engaged Pittsburgh.
posted 11/20/13 @ 11:26 am
Friday, November 15 – Greening the City of Black and Gold
As Mayor, it has been a priority of mine to clean up our city, improve its air quality and sustainability, and encourage residents to take a greater hand in greening their lives and homes. From signing the U.S. Mayors Climate Protection Agreement in 2007, when I pledged to implement local global warming solutions to save taxpayer dollars and reduce energy use, to the current construction of the world’s greenest skyscraper – the Tower at PNC Plaza – in Downtown, we have made great strides in becoming an environmentally conscious city.
When I took office, I knew that we had a lot of work to do to make Pittsburgh a greener city. That’s why we created the Office of Sustainability and Energy Efficiency and hired the City’s first Sustainability Coordinator, Bike and Pedestrian Coordinator, and Urban Forester. I also created the City’s Green Trust Fund, which helps create green programming citywide. Since then, we’ve celebrated many accomplishments that have lowered Pittsburgh’s carbon footprint.
We have replaced 3,700 streetlights in our business districts, reducing the City’s electricity expenses by 60%. The new, modern lighting fixtures produce a brighter, cleaner light that improves visibility for drivers and pedestrians, and have a longer life than standard bulbs. We have expanded our curbside recycling program. Since 2007, the City has recycled more than 78,000 tons of waste and composted 19,000 tons of that waste, saving $1.9 million in landfill costs and generating $3.4 million in recycling revenue. We have installed solar panels on a number of City facilities, reducing the need to use natural gas, therefore reducing greenhouse gas emissions.
Two new programs were created this year: Green Up Pittsburgh: Edible Gardens increases access to fresh fruits and vegetables in neighborhoods designated as “food deserts,” and Cool Roofs coats City-owned roofs with reflective white paint to reduce cooling costs, cut energy usage and lower greenhouse gas emissions. Average electricity usage in these buildings will be reduced by 10-15% per month, reducing Pittsburgh’s carbon footprint by 45 metric tons in its first year.
Where better to enforce change than at home? In the City-County Building, we’re repairing and upgrading outdated technology, working to reduce our carbon footprint by 800 metric tons and save taxpayers $475,000 per year. Residents have started making changes at home, too. Working together with the City’s partners, we’ve gotten residents involved to help get work done. Volunteers working with my Green Up: Edible Gardens and Love Your Block programs have transformed more than 250 formerly vacant and abandoned lots into community gardens and green spaces. Cool Roofs volunteers have painted nearly 65,000 square feet of rooftop. I’m always impressed by residents’ dedication, passion and work, and I’m so proud of all they’ve done to help improve our city!
We love our black and gold, but Pittsburgh has gone green. We’ve ranked in the top 15 ecofriendly cities in the world, have hosted the National Arbor Day Foundation’s Partners in Community Forestry 2013 National Conference, and this year we planted our 20,000th tree since 2008. I want to thank the volunteers, City staff, nonprofit community and all those dedicated to creating a sustainable and environmentally friendly city. We’ve come a long way from our smoky skyline, and I have no doubt that Pittsburgh will continue not only as America’s “Most Livable City,” but one of its greenest as well.
posted 11/15/13 @ 11:26 am
Wednesday, Nov. 13 - Success Resonates from the Heart of our City
Reflecting on the progress our City has made in just the last few years, it’s amazing to think about how far we’ve come. Pittsburgh’s Third Renaissance continues to expand to all of our 90 unique neighborhoods, but at its core is the heart of our city – Downtown. Did you know that more than $5 billion has been invested in Downtown in the past 7 years? Partners from the community, the public sector and the private sector have come together to transform this Central Business District into a vibrant, 24/7 destination spot for residents and visitors alike.
Think back to before Market Square’s $5 million dollar renovation – and the dozens of restaurants and retail that opened as a result. Before PNC picked Pittsburgh to build its newest headquarters, which will soon be the world’s greenest skyscraper. Before we invested millions of dollars in the historical restorations of many key downtown structures.
Today, Downtown is bustling. Our focus on improving Downtown has resulted in new small businesses, thousands of new jobs and new quality housing opportunities. Residency is at an all-time high, office space vacancies are at a record low, and we continue to see tremendous development and private investment in our city’s expanding golden triangle. This type of success doesn’t happen overnight, and it doesn’t happen without dedicated teamwork and strong private-public partnerships.
Through aggressive efforts like our Downtown Action Strategy, which helps guide future developments and retain current retail along primary commercial corridors like Smithfield Street, combined with innovative programs like Project Pop-Up: Downtown, which transformed vacant storefronts into vibrant, eye-catching works of art and pop-up retail - it’s incredible what we can achieve when we work together.
I want to thank the many stakeholders, partners and community members for working together to revitalize our city’s urban core. I appreciate the strong dedication, continued investment and shared vision for Downtown Pittsburgh. Our successes have begun to expand beyond what we typically think of as the “Golden Triangle.” Surrounding Downtown is the mixed-use, 28 acres site in the Hill District, a planned new riverfront development in the Strip District, and the North Shore is now just a short T ride away.
We have only just begun to tap into Downtown’s potential. Just as I enjoy looking at how far we have come in a few short years, I am also excited to see the core of our city continue to grow and thrive. There is still work to be done, and I’m confident that the path for continued success has been set.
posted 11/13/13 @ 11:16 am
Tuesday, Nov. 12 - Budgeting for the Future
This morning, I was proud to deliver my final budget address, presenting the 2014 Operating and Capital Budget and Five-Year Financial Plan. Thinking about how far we’ve come since 2006, I’m reminded of the one goal that’s governed all of my work as Mayor – to make Pittsburgh an even greater place to live, work and visit. It’s taken a great amount of work, partnership and vision to accomplish that, but we have.
Just one decade ago, our City was facing bankruptcy and entered Act 47 state oversight. Years of mismanagement resulted in a drastic cut to the City’s workforce, an extremely difficult time for businesses and residents, and a severe population loss. I can't help but reflect upon how far we have come as a City, and the promise that our future now holds. Whether it’s being named a “Top Comeback City” or America’s "Most Livable City” year after year, Pittsburgh has become the model for transformation. I am confident that this proposed budget charts Pittsburgh’s path beyond recovery.
I invite you to read my budget address below:
Good Morning Council President Harris, members of City Council, fellow City leaders, employees, and residents of our most livable City of Pittsburgh. I am honored to present you a structurally balanced budget for your consideration for an 8th consecutive year.
Working together with my budget team one last time to produce the 2014 Operating and Capital Budget and Five-Year Financial Plan, I couldn’t be more pleased with how far we’ve come. We have brought financial stability back to City government. We have taken the City from the brink of bankruptcy to financial recovery, and we have done it together. We made a promise to the people of Pittsburgh 7 years ago, and we have kept that promise.
I emphasize “we” because this truly was a team effort. Five years without acquiring any new debt meant we all had to make sacrifices; we had to do more with less. It wasn’t easy, and it wasn’t always the most popular choice. Thank you to the directors who operated on baseline budgets. Thank you to the workers who tirelessly served our city, despite facing stagnant wages. And thank you to the residents for your patience during this time of conservative spending.
Despite a national economic recession, we paid down a quarter-billion dollars of the City’s past debts. While other governments were increasing taxes and laying off workers – we balanced our budgets, kept our streamlined workforce and, in fact, cut taxes. As a result, we have received ten bond rating upgrades and our investment status has moved from “junk” grade to “A” status. City Council Members, fellow City employees – together we have come a long way.
The proposed 2014 Operating and Capital Budget and Five-Year Financial Plan contains no surprises. The financially responsible policies that have been the hallmark of City government will continue. This $480 million dollar budget proposes no new or increased taxes, results in an operating surplus and carries a healthy savings account. Over the course of the five-year plan, we will commit another $25 million dollars to a pay-as-you-go capital budget while pledging an additional $25 million above and beyond what is required to the pension fund.
The $52.5 million dollar capital budget allows us to deliver the highest quality services to the people of Pittsburgh. We will continue to invest in public safety, public works, and parks and recreation to make the City of Pittsburgh even more livable for everyone.
We remain committed to modernizing the City’s fleet and will invest an additional $5 million dollars toward this initiative. We will dedicate another $7 million dollars into improving our streets through a robust paving program. And, we won’t forget that our residents deserve neighborhoods with the best amenities. This budget commits nearly $30 million dollars to projects throughout the City. From spray parks, to senior centers, to ball fields - we continue to prioritize building and maintaining critical infrastructure citywide.
In 2006, we inherited a city under financial distress. By focusing on debt reduction and responsible fiscal management, we have made great strides in improving Pittsburgh’s financial health. Through the hard work and dedication of so many, we’ve become a model city for transformation and success in municipal finance, and we have charted Pittsburgh’s path beyond recovery.
The progress we have made over the last 7 years is thanks to our first-rate workforce and our diverse and remarkable residents, all of whom I have been proud to serve. It has been my great honor to work alongside each and every one of you during these last few years. Thank you, and God bless Pittsburgh.
posted 11/12/13 @ 12:05 pm
Wednesday, Nov. 6 – Kicking off the Holiday Season
Yesterday, I was excited to join the Pittsburgh Downtown Partnership and many Downtown businesses in announcing plans this year’s holiday season. Together, we highlighted all of the exciting, family-friendly events and activities that will be going on in the heart of our city over the next few weeks. As we talked about Light Up Night, the Holiday Market and more, I found myself reminiscing about my own family’s holiday traditions. There are so many fun and festive ways to celebrate the season in Pittsburgh! Here are my top 5 favorite ways to celebrate the holiday season in our beautiful city.
1.) Volunteering on Thanksgiving
2.) Light Up Night
3.) City-County Building Tree Lighting
4.) Ice Skating
5.) Shopping Local
posted 11/06/13 @ 11:06 am
Tuesday, Nov. 5 - Celebrating Success in East Liberty
Yesterday I had the opportunity to welcome even more new, quality housing and retail options to the burgeoning East Liberty neighborhood. Joined by community members, local officials and project partners like The Community Builders, we broke ground on East Liberty Place South – a new development that will welcome three floors of environmentally friendly apartments and first floor retail space. While traveling to the event, I was amazed to look around and reflect on just how far this neighborhood has come in the past few years.
Just a few short decades ago, East Liberty fell on some hard times. Stores were closed, homes were left vacant. After years of unsuccessful attempts to turn things around, local officials and dedicated community members came together with one goal in mind – to rebuild East Liberty to the vibrant commercial center and tight-knit residential community it once was. East Liberty’s success story is one that would not have been possible if it weren’t for the combined efforts of so many.
Since 2007, we have invested over $20 million into this area through the City’s Urban Redevelopment Authority. Our investment, combined with significant private investment and funding from the State and Federal level, has helped to set this community on the path to continued success. We had a vision for East Liberty, and I’m pleased to say that each day we continue to see that vision unfold.
Today, Pittsburgh is experiencing its Third Renaissance, and that renaissance resonates in East Liberty - a neighborhood that has become one of Pittsburgh’s top destination spots. People want to work here, they want to live here. This formally distressed area is seeing millions of dollars in investment! From the opening of the City’s first urban Target, to the dozens of new restaurants and retail ventures, to the $100 million Bakery Square and $120 million Bakery Square 2.0 developments – top businesses and companies are choosing East Liberty as the place they want to invest. Perhaps most importantly, these new developments are creating thousands of local jobs for residents.
Dedicated teamwork and strong private-public partnerships have rebuilt East Liberty back into a vibrant, unique neighborhood. This teamwork is essential to creating local jobs, promoting neighborhood development and continuing to grow our city. I’d like to thank all of the hard working organizations and stakeholders who are dedicated to the revitalization of East Liberty and all of Pittsburgh’s neighborhoods. I invite you to visit East Liberty soon and experience its transformation yourself - I know you won’t be disappointed!
posted 11/04/13 @ 11:45 am
Friday, Nov. 1 – Congratulations to our City's Newest Firefighters
I was honored to welcome the City’s newest class of firefighters today - the second graduating recruits class in only a few months. That puts 29 more firefighters in your neighborhoods, helping to keep our city safe.
I couldn't help but reflect back to the historic Pittsburgh-Wilkinsburg Fire Bureau merger from a few years ago. In early 2010, negotiations began to merge the City of Pittsburgh’s and the Borough of Wilkinsburg’s Fire Bureaus. Our firefighters were often called out to structure fires in Wilkinsburg, and it made sense operationally and financially to combine forces. Residents deserve quick public safety responses and professional fire protection, and this allowed both municipalities to benefit. This was the first time ever that two full-time, paid, municipal fire departments merged.
Working closely with Wilkinsburg Mayor Thompson, the execution of this intergovernmental agreement was no small task. Many people were intimately involved in the negotiations – two municipalities, the state general assembly, the City’s ICA and Act 47 teams, AND two firefighter unions. I remember the working group and the bi-monthly meetings needed to tackle the legal, financial and operational obstacles of the merger. I’m still thankful for their dedication to seeing through the City’s and Borough’s vision of efficient and effective government.
I believe this merger is a state-wide model for efficient and effective consolidation. At no cost to City taxpayers, this merger saves the residents of Wilkinsburg hundreds of thousands of dollars annually while improving their fire protection. In turn, the City gained 24 additional firefighters and a fire station, at no cost to City residents.
Today, the City gained 29 additional brave and ambitious firefighters, trained and ready to answer the call for help. Today, and every day, I thank them for their selfless dedication to keeping our residents and our city safe.
posted 10/31/13 @ 2:54 pm
Thursday, Oct. 31 - Wishing You and Your Family a Happy Halloween!
Pittsburgh is a city that loves to celebrate Halloween, and I expect this year will be another one full of sweet treats and fun scares. I know that my son, Cooper, and I are looking forward to an exciting night of trick-or-treating, as I’m sure your families are. As Mayor, it is always a personal priority of mine to provide our city’s youngest residents with a safe and happy Halloween experience.
This year’s official trick-or-treat hours will be tonight, October 31, from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. I encourage you to visit the City’s Halloween webpage to check out festivities hosted by community and church groups in your neighborhood, and to download a printable safety guide that includes activity sheets for children.
As you celebrate the year’s spookiest holiday, please remember to drive cautiously, remain alert and encourage safety in your neighborhood. Together, we can make this Halloween a treat for all residents. Happy Halloween everyone!
posted 10/30/13 @ 12:18 pm
Tuesday, Oct. 29 - Pittsburgh is a World-Class Bike-Friendly City
On a beautiful day like today, you may have noticed Pittsburgh’s growing bike community commuting to work and travelling throughout the city. Did you know that Pittsburgh has the 13th highest bicycling commuting population in the country? In the past decade alone, our number of bike commuters has increased by nearly 270%. We’re continuing to work hard to ensure that Pittsburgh is a welcoming city to bikers by making our streets safer and more accessible.
In 2006, Pittsburgh had less than 8 miles of bike lanes, only 100 bike racks and no bike corrals. Today, we boast 70 miles of bike lanes, 24 miles of riverfront trails, 600 bike racks and 4 on-street bike corrals. We’ve prioritized making Pittsburgh a more bike-friendly city, and these numbers are just a few examples of how far we’ve come.
There have been a number of significant accomplishments in just this past year alone. We installed the city’s first-ever green bike lanes, improving biker visibility and making the lanes easier to identify. In Downtown, we opened a new bike station, offering covered public parking for bikes, annual parking leases and a “fix-it” area. We also joined our partners in launching the Pittsburgh Bike Share, which will offer 500 rentable bikes at 50 bike stations throughout the city.
By working with dedicated nonprofits like BikePGH, we have made tremendous strides in our efforts to make Pittsburgh a world-class, bike-friendly city. In 2010, Pittsburgh was named the 2nd most bike-friendly city in America, ranked as a Bronze Bicycle Friendly Community, and now continues to rank in America’s top 30 best bike cities. Further proof of our success can be seen by our international recognition - last year we hosted the ThinkBike Workshop, and next year we will host the Pro Walk/Pro Bike Conference, one of the largest international conferences of its kind.
I would like to thank all of our partners who work tirelessly to make Pittsburgh a safer and more accessible city for pedestrians and bicyclists. I also want to thank our active bike community for your input and enthusiasm for our projects. As Pittsburgh continues to develop, it is my hope that the needs of pedestrians and bicyclists will remain an important priority. I look forward to seeing you on the road!
posted 10/29/13 @ 12:25 pm
Monday., Oct. 28 - Lawrenceville
Looking around, Pittsburgh’s Third Renaissance can be seen across the city – from the East End to the North Side to the South Hills. Many neighborhoods have transformed from the Pittsburgh of yesterday to the Pittsburgh of today. Lawrenceville’s story is one of renewal. With its thriving business district, growing housing market and increasingly engaged residents – Lawrenceville has transformed into one of Pittsburgh’s trendiest neighborhoods.
Did you know that Pittsburgh has been named a top 10 city for young professionals? The Huffington Post cited our city’s affordable housing, abundant job opportunities and vibrant nightlife. Each of these things can be found in Lawrenceville. In recent years, we have made it a priority to create new addresses in this neighborhood. The $5.6 million Locomotive Lofts housing development reclaimed a once-industrial site that was vacant for more than a decade, and turned it into a LEED Gold certified, 34-unit apartment building that will generate over $140,000 dollars in annual taxes. I had the opportunity to tour the lofts last week, and am impressed at the finished product and excited for new residents to move in. The nearby $14 million Doughboy Apartments is a mixed-use development that includes nearly 40 residential units and first-floor commercial space. Together, just these two housing developments bring nearly 75 new residential opportunities in this growing neighborhood.
The City's Urban Redevelopment Authority has devoted more than $1.6 million to improve Lawrenceville's main street, investing in real estate and mixed-use developments, completing storefront renovations and improving streetscapes. While walking along Butler Street, it’s impossible to deny how far the neighborhood has come. Dozens of new restaurants and shops bring foot traffic into the business district to explore the thriving art, live music, dining and shopping scene. This bustling corridor has become a destination for people to live, work and visit, and is just one example of Pittsburgh’s Third Renaissance stretching throughout our neighborhoods.
Lawrenceville has also been a starting point for some of our most impactful programs. The City’s first official Redd Up Zone was 34th Street to 38th Street on Butler Avenue, as well as on Mulberry Way - adopted by Boy Scouts of America, Troop #73. A second servePGH program kicked off in Lawrenceville when Lawrenceville United received the City’s first Love Your Block grant to transform a once-vacant lot into a community garden. Since both programs launched two years ago, over 100 volunteers have helped impact more than two dozen blocks, collect 5,000+ pounds of litter and create 60+ green spaces.
Thanks to the City’s commitment, and the dedication of so many, Lawrenceville – once plagued with vacant warehouses and factories – has evolved into a green, vibrant and trendy community where people want to live and developers want to invest. I look forward to this neighborhood’s bright future!
posted 10/25/13 @ 3:47 pm
Friday, Oct. 25 - Thank a Police Officer Today
Today I had the opportunity to honor our local law enforcement officers at the 13th annual Amen Corner awards ceremony for police bravery. The ceremony reminds us of those who stand up to danger every day, putting their lives on the line to save others. This year I presented an award to Pittsburgh Police Officers Christopher Kertis and Charles Thomas. These officers were both involved in a shootout earlier this year, resulting in Officer Kertis being seriously injured. I commend them for their sacrifice, and for helping to keep our streets safe.
While I listened to the heroic stories behind each award, I was reminded of how dedicated our brave officers are to keeping Pittsburgh, and its residents, safe. They risk their lives to protect our city, and for that I am extremely grateful. Today I’d like to say THANK YOU to all of our public safety officials and I encourage all of you to do the same.
posted 10/25/13 @ 12:24 pm
Thursday, Oct. 24 - Improving the Fabric of our City
Yesterday evening, I had the pleasure of joining City and County officials and local community members to celebrate the reopening of the South Highland Avenue Bridge. Earlier this year, the bridge faced a deteriorating deck and corroding steel. Thanks to the joint efforts of City, State, Federal and other public agencies, the detours and traffic jams have come to an end. The full $4.4 million reconstruction is complete, making the bridge safe for all vehicles and pedestrians to travel between the thriving Shadyside and East Liberty neighborhoods.
While infrastructure improvements aren’t always the most exciting projects, they are essential to keeping our residents and communities safe. Think back to when Bates St./Second Ave. – a key connection between South Side and Oakland – was only 3 lanes and trucks frequently were stuck in the narrow tunnel… or back before Penn Circle in East Liberty was converted into two-way traffic. These two projects alone required $10.5 million in investment, but the price of improving these confusing intersections, and making them safer for pedestrians and drivers, is immeasurable.
Another example of a major infrastructure improvement is the complete rehabilitation of the 80-year-old McArdle Bridge, which connects Mt. Washington to the South Side. If you never drove past this $10 million project, you may have seen it in the feature film Jack Reacher. An interesting fact about this project is that workers had to coordinate their work around the active train traffic under the bridge. But thanks to the dedicated hard work of many, the bridge reopened last year – significantly easing the commute between these two neighborhoods.
Just as important as road and bridge improvements are, infrastructure projects also include enhancing the aesthetics and safety of our neighborhood business districts. We are currently reconstructing the Brookline Boulevard to include new sidewalks, safer crosswalks, upgraded traffic and street lights, and more. This nearly $6 million project has been a joint effort of many, but it wouldn’t have been possible without the input and patience of the Brookline community. The project is expected to be completed in May 2014, and I can’t wait to walk down the redesigned Boulevard for the first time in the spring.
From the East End to the South Side, infrastructure projects continue to make Pittsburgh an even more livable city for everyone!
posted 10/24/13 @ 12:00 pm
Wednesday, Oct. 23 - Reopening the Pittsburgh Public Market
This morning we officially re-opened the Pittsburgh Public Market at its new location – 2401 Penn Avenue! The Market’s move further into the heart of Pittsburgh’s historic Strip District will make it even more walkable for shoppers, and will further expand the business district. This is exactly what Pittsburgh’s Third Renaissance is about – growing businesses, improving our neighborhoods and creating jobs.
The City of Pittsburgh and Neighbors in the Strip have been committed partners in this initiative since day one. In 2010, the City’s Urban Redevelopment Authority provided a $100,000 dollar grant to help establish the much-anticipated public market in the Strip District. Earlier this year, we provided an additional $40,000 dollars to support the Market’s relocation and pre-development.
The City’s work to help establish the Pittsburgh Public Market has helped our small businesses grow and created more local jobs. Since it first opened, the Market has created over 150 local jobs and helped more than 70 businesses establish themselves – resulting in $3 million dollars in gross sales. Its new location provides even more space and allows the Market to expand its services.
The Market has served as a great incubator for Pittsburgh’s local businesses. Many businesses started in the Market, built a client base and progressed to neighborhood storefronts, such as the Crested Duck Charcuterie in Beechview.
I want to thank Neighbors in the Strip for their dedication to establishing and growing the Market for working to provide opportunities for local businesses, and for giving residents a great opportunity to shop local. Also, thank you to the residents and community, and the Market’s thousands of customers, for your patience during this transition. I share your excitement today in turning the page to begin this new chapter in the Pittsburgh Public Market’s story.
posted 10/23/13 @ 12:00 pm
Monday, Oct. 21 - Our Promise to Pittsburgh's Youth
Today I had the opportunity to remind residents of a great program offered by Comcast called “Internet Essentials” that helps close the digital divide that too many local students face when they don’t have a computer and internet service at home. Too many Pittsburgh students are placed at a disadvantage when they are unable to afford these resources, which are a necessity in today’s increasingly digital world. I commend Comcast for not only acknowledging this fact, but taking the initiative to do something about it. Internet Essentials, paired with other opportunities like The Pittsburgh Promise, will help create new opportunities for our students.
It’s incredible to think how far we’ve come since the day that I stood next to Mark Roosevelt, Pittsburgh Public Schools’ superintendent at the time, and announced The Pittsburgh Promise – an ambitious scholarship program that would help Pittsburgh Public Schools’ students pursue higher education. This announcement created an excitement among Pittsburgh families but, given the extensiveness of the program, we also faced intense criticism and skepticism.
We didn’t give up, and thanks to the support of so many, we turned this idea into a reality. In just the last few years, scholarships have doubled from up to $20,000 to $40,000 over the course of a four-year higher education. To date, more than 4,000 high school graduates have benefitted from approximately $36 million in funding through The Pittsburgh Promise, and more than 700 Promise Scholars have graduated from a post-secondary institution. Their stories are truly inspiring!
Westinghouse High School student Vanessa Thompson was afraid that higher education would be out of her reach due to the financial burden of tuition. Thanks to the Pittsburgh Promise, Vanessa was able to attend Chatham University and become the first person in her family to graduate from college. Vanessa later put her experience with the Promise and her recent education to work as an AmeriCorps VISTA member in my Office of Service and Civic Engagement, where she worked on my Promise Coaches Campaign before returning to Chatham University to earn her Masters in Business Administration.
The Pittsburgh Promise does more than just offer financial assistance - it represents a commitment to the future of our young people. We are dedicated to giving our students the support they need to realize their full potential and to reach their dreams. Congratulations to all of our Promise Scholars, and to those working hard to join this group, don’t give up!
posted 10/21/13 @ 11:00 am
Thursday, Oct. 16 - Commemorating a Milestone in the Hill District
Today is an exciting day for the Hill District! This morning, we officially opened Centre Heldman Plaza, the neighborhood’s newest development that includes the long-awaited and much-needed Shop ‘n Save grocery store and retail complex. The Plaza will bring new businesses, jobs and residents into the area, spurring the economic revitalization of the Centre Avenue corridor.
Over the last few years, we have worked hard to expand the success of Downtown Pittsburgh into its surrounding neighborhoods, and the ongoing transformation is evident.
It’s impossible to forget the feelings of excitement, accomplishment and hope that came with the completion of the Consol Energy Center in 2010. The many long days spent negotiating and working with stakeholders to make this project a reality paid off. The arena provided Hill District residents with hundreds of new jobs and sent a resounding message that we’re dedicated to improving the Hill.
That improvement will continue with the developing 28 acres site right up the road. Though many were sad to see the Civic Arena go, the new $400 million development will bring plenty of new shops, retail and residences and thousands of new jobs, and will connect the growing Hill District with the thriving heart of our city.
With new development comes improved quality of life for residents. The Carnegie Library branch on Centre Avenue was the City’s first new library in 28 years! The $3 million library replaced a 1950s-era gas station – a perfect example of transitioning from the Pittsburgh of yesterday to the Pittsburgh today. Also on Centre Avenue, the new Thelma Lovett Family YMCA provides neighbors with a family-friendly place to spend time together, get active and have fun. In just a few years, we’ve provided Hill District residents with both a library and YMCA within walking distance from their homes.
Thelma Lovette Family YMCA:
In addition to improving quality of life in the Hill, we’ve also worked to improve the quality of the environment. The former Connelley Technical Institute is being transformed into the new Energy Innovation Center, which will educate and train residents of all ages in green career fields and sustainable living. The $45 million Center will serve as a hub for green industry and workforce development, projected to train more than 800 workers in its first five years.
Over the last few years, the City and its partners have invested over $120 million to create new homes for residents in the Hill District. Dinwiddie Street – once a few blocks of vacant and underutilized homes – has been transformed into new rental townhomes and apartments. Once-vacant land is now the site of the Residences at New Granada Square. And, like I promised when I took office, Oak Hill has become a sustainable community. The Wadsworth Phase of the Oak Hill development brought 90 new residential units. I remember the late-night negotiations that helped end the six-year stalemate that kept Oak Hill II from happening. We made a promise to the residents, and that promise was kept. When it’s complete, Oak Hill II will provide 450 new mixed-income units, a community park, recreational amenities, office space and community retail space.
The Residences at Granada Square - coming soon!
Oak Hill Development:
Today’s milestone was the next step in providing the Hill District community with a better quality of life and the amenities our residents deserve. This neighborhood is on the move and ripe for more investment. Together, we can all celebrate today and look to a future of expanded growth for the Hill District. If you think these pictures look great, they really don't do justice to the work being done. I encourage you to take a few minutes and take a ride up to Centre Avenue to see the progress for yourself. Trust me, you'll be amazed!
posted 10/17/13 @ 11:01 am
Wednesday, Oct. 15 – Celebrating the South Side
This morning, I joined in celebrating the next step in bringing new housing to the South Side as developers and I broke ground for Phase 2 of Windom Hill Place. What a great addition to the evolving diverse housing options we have in our neighborhoods.
As I prepared for the event today, I found myself reflecting on all of the investment and hard work that has gone into the South Side alone. Below is just a sampling of our efforts. None of this could have happened without the commitment and hard work of so many over the course of these past seven years. Thanks to all that played a role!!
- We invested $10 million to completely rehabilitate the lower McArdle Bridge, which is the main thoroughfare to connect the South Side and Mt. Washington. The bridge supports thousands of cars on a daily basis.
- We developed the South Shore Riverfront Park and Amphitheater. This project involved transforming a former steel site into a beautiful $13 million public area that also links to Pittsburgh's impressive trail system. The good news is that more is on the way! In fact, by year’s end, I expect the River Landing phase to be complete, which provides access and tie-ups for boats. It's my hope the next administration will share my vision and continue the wonderful progress made to date.
- I love our seniors, so the South Side Market House renovation was a no-brainer. The rehab included ADA-accessible features that now provide access to the second floor gym. A great “thank you” goes out to the City’s Department of Public Works for taking on a lot of the work in-house, saving $750,000 on the project’s cost.
- We installed the City’s first-ever on-street bike corral in the South Side. Special thanks and shout out to the Over The Bar Bicycle Café for being great partners. Stop in if you ever get a chance, it's a great place.
- We worked diligently with the dog owners of the South Side to create the beautiful South Side Dog Park. This project required the transformation of a blighted brownfield into safe, gated off-leash area. It's been a great success due to the partnership created. An added bonus to taxpayers, our professional Public Works staff was able to complete the work in-house - saving tens of thousands of taxpayer dollars.
- Early in my tenure, but not to be forgotten, we opened the Hot Metal Pedestrian Bridge. This last link allowed for the connection to the 21 miles of the Three Rivers Heritage Trail. In addition, this $11 million project was a critical last piece in finishing the Great Allegheny Passage.
- By providing business loans and working with stakeholders, we have made great strides in making the South Side one of the hottest residential spots/neighborhoods in the city. Great work by all! South Side is, without a doubt, a better place today than it was seven years ago.
posted 10/16/13 @ 1:00 pm
Celebrating Seven Years of Successes
As my time as Mayor of the great City of Pittsburgh winds down, I think it’s important to spend some time reflecting on all that's been accomplished under my leadership over the last seven years. While there’s been a lot of discussion recently about my whereabouts, make no mistake – I’ve been focused on, and doing the business of, the City. Granted, these days people aren't approaching me as often as they once did regarding long-term issues or public appearances, but that’s the nature of transition. Don't confuse the transition process with a lack of commitment to completing what I started over 7 years ago. We get work done every single day and our City government continues to deliver the high level of services that residents have grown to expect from my administration. While some would like you to conclude otherwise, I continue to make daily decisions about City government and am very much engaged with those in my administration. In short, my vision continues to be implemented, and when viewed in its entirety our body of work is quite impressive.
One thing that hasn’t changed is my vision for the city. Pittsburgh’s past, present and future are based on years of work by my administration. I’ve spent the last 7 years with one goal in mind – to make Pittsburgh an even greater place to live, work and visit. I believe we’ve accomplished that. Crime rates are down, our population is growing, our budgets are balanced, Pittsburgh has returned to the national spotlight, and new jobs and developments can be found throughout Pittsburgh’s neighborhoods and Downtown.
These things did not happen overnight and they did not happen by accident. They happened because so many of us are passionate about Pittsburgh and have dedicated the last seven years to building partnerships to make them happen.
Because some are apparently more committed than ever to focus on the negative, I believe it's my responsibility to remind people just how much we've achieved during my tenure as Mayor. So, over the next 2 ½ months, I’ll be highlighting just a few of the successes of my administration. I hope that you’ll join me in reflecting on how far we’ve come, and in celebrating the Pittsburgh of today, America’s “Most Livable City.”
Please check this site for updates or follow me on twitter @mayorluke to celebrate the growth of the city we all love.
posted 10/16/13 @ 10:00 am
Office of Mayor Luke Ravenstahl
512 City County Building | 414 Grant Street
Pittsburgh, PA 15219
telephone: 412-255-2626 | facsimile: 412-255-2687