Millvale’s aim to revitalize gets boost from grant money

Jan 5, 2015

By: Rachel Farkas, Trib Live, Wednesday, Dec. 31, 2014, 9:00 p.m.

Millvale’s continued work on implementing its EcoDistrict Sustainability plan will get a boost from a $75,000 grant.

The Millvale Community Library received the grant from Pittsburgh nonprofit Neighborhood Allies through its catalytic grant program.wolovich_final-3

Seven grants totaling $478,000 were awarded to the targeted communities of Hilltop, Hill District, Homewood, Larimer, Millvale and Wilkinsburg to help fund neighborhood- and system-based projects, said Talia Piazza, program manager with Neighborhood Allies. It received 98 applicants for the highly sought-after fall grant program.

“We’re in the business of working in the most needy neighborhoods, where there’s not only need, but also opportunity,” Piazza said. “We’ve seen this turnaround in Pittsburgh and this revitalization, and there are some neighborhoods who haven’t seen the success that comes with it.”

Millvale Community Library will use the grant to further develop the EcoDistrict Sustainability plan by, in part, hiring a full-time committed staff person to oversee the plan, library President Brian Wolovich said. The new sustainability coordinator will handle the implementation and development of the sustainability plan, which was established from a study of the borough in 2011, he said.

“We’ve analyzed the systems that support and utilize resources in Millvale through the lens of food, water and energy,” Wolovich said. “Looking at these three systems, we’re trying to figure out how we can be as efficient without the use of resources available to us here.”

Aspects of the food, water and energy plan already can be seen in the community. The Bennett Station Town Square project that recently began construction at the corner of Grant and North Avenues will bring fresh food to the community.

A bioswale on Hawthorne Road at the Sisters of St. Francis’ Mount Alvernia campus on Hawthorne Road slows and redirects storm water, which in the past has flooded Millvale.

Through a partnership with ReEnergize Pittsburgh, more than 40 homes have been weatherproofed for winter, and, Wolovich said, the goal is to reach 100 homes this winter. Another goal is expanding the use of solar panels in the community, he said. The library already uses solar power.

“We want to increase the quality of life, save money and make money in ways that allow equitable access to the benefits of this work,” Wolovich said. “That means as many people as possible in the community can benefit from this work.”

A key skill for the new sustainability coordinator will be working well with others, as every ounce of progress that occurs in Millvale is a collaborative effort, Wolovich said.

“No one person or organization can make a sustainable community, and no one person can solve these issues,” Wolovich said. “This person needs to be able to work across a variety of organizations.”

Wolovich said he expects to begin advertising for the sustainability coordinator’s position soon.

The grant has come at a great time for Millvale, which is primed for success with its innovative EcoDistrict Sustainability plan and strong community bonds, Piazza said.

“It’s perfect timing for the community,” she said. “They really set the stage to be able to have some real impact.”

Rachel Farkas is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 724-772-6364

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Top Header Image Photo Credit: Prototyping Larimer Stories by artist John Peña, photo by OPA