Residents Meet to Discuss Project Progress

Exciting news at Sharpsburg and the entire borough is getting involved! Read this article from the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette about the development and community planning happening now. Check back to www.sharpsburgborough.com for news on this and other projects happening in our community! 

Sharpsburg residents get a say in what is best for their hometown

Young families and community supporters got a glimpse of what Sharpsburg could look like in the future during a community planning meeting last week, and visitors even got a chance to weigh in on some of the things they liked best.

About 60 people attended a meeting Oct. 25 at the borough building to look at and talk about ideas that will help borough officials and residents make long-range plans for growth and development. EvolveEA, a sustainable architecture and consulting firm based in East Liberty, has been working with residents to develop ideas and suggestions to guide the planning process.

The firm was hired after the Sharpsburg Neighborhood Organization received a $75,000 grant from the Hillman Foundation to cover planning costs of the vision and design plan.

Among the topics and ideas were easing traffic flow, improving shopping, keeping housing affordable, making the borough more bike-friendly, and improving the riverfront bike trail.

The evolveEA team had displayed possible plans and suggestions along the walls of the council meeting room and, after a brief presentation, residents viewed the displays, discussed the ideas with neighbors and professionals, and provided their input by placing emoji stickers next to the plans they liked the best.

The team also divided the borough into four districts: Pine Creek, Main and Canal, Eastern, and Industrial.

Sharpsburg future planning districts

“Things are changing rapidly and we want to make Sharpsburg competitive and equitable with the region. Sharpsburg is getting started just in time,” said Christine Mondor of evolveEA.

Brittany Reno, a borough councilwoman and executive director of the Sharpsburg Neighborhood Organization, said the plan will be a tool that will help guide future zoning changes.

“It will protect residents from unbridled development and give them a say in what happens,” shes said.

In previous meetings, residents have said that some of the top concerns are parking, transportation and new business development.

Anna Rosenblum of evolveEA said after the last meeting held in the summer, the team had focused on 10 items that topped a survey of the attendees. They included the riverfront trail, various shops, arts and culture, infrastructure, greenspace and affordable housing.

“Helping Sharpsburg create a steering committee that is community-led and driven is our goal,” she said.

Barb Uebing, a member of First English Lutheran Church in the Pine Creek district, attended the meeting with another member of her church council.

“We want to expand into the community and be involved,” she said. Mrs. Uebing helps run the church’s Our House Family Diner, which offers free breakfast from 8 to 11 a.m. on the second Saturday of each month in the church’s fellowship hall. The meal is prepared and served by church members and by Fox Chapel Area High School students fulfilling community service requirements.

Others in the Pine Creek district posted emoji stickers heavily in favor of reconnecting Sharpsburg to Etna via a trail along the Allegheny River.

In the Main and Canal district, improvement suggestions winning the most likes included traffic flow, park and trail upgrades, and development of a Canal Street shopping plaza.

Nanci Goldberg, an art teacher at Dorseyville Middle School, said she is considering putting a business in the area. “I really see Sharpsburg on the cusp of exciting times. It’s important that the community is proactive instead of reactive. I’m happy to be able to have input,” she said.

Kim Follett, regional vice president of Volunteers of America, which operates All of Us Care on Main Street, said she believes strongly in the neighborhood organization’s project. “We want to be a critical partner and provide support to the residents already here. We don’t want people to be displaced.”

Once it is completed, the community vision and design plan will be used by the Sharpsburg Neighborhood Organization to create a five-year plan that meets the shared goals of all residents.

This article appeared in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette on Nov. 3, 2017, written by Rita Michel, freelance writer.