Things Are Looking Up in Upper Lawrenceville
From The Bulletin, January 2013
By Lauren Byme and James Eash,
Lawrenceville United and Lawrenceville Corporation
Lawrenceville – More than 60 residents filled the Ancient Order of Hibernian’s Club at 52nd and Carnegie Streets on Oct. 18 to begin planning for their future. At this first of three public community sessions, residents came together to share their vision for Upper Lawrenceville – known locally as the 10th Ward – by kicking off a long-awaited-neighborhood planning and visioning process. The diverse group was a broad representation of the neighborhood: elderly residents, 20-somethings, longtime homeowners and recent transplants all coming together to create a shared vision for the 10th Ward.
Over the past two years, Lawrenceville United convened groups of residents, business owners and community stakeholders to begin’ thinking comprehensively about the future of the 10th Ward. While the neighborhood as a whole has experienced incredible transformation over the last decade, planning efforts have focused primarily on Central and Lower Lawrenceville, with Upper Lawrenceville largely absent from the conversation. This current effort represents the first with a specific focus on the future of the 10th Ward.
For more than a decade, 10th Ward residents and their community organizations have,worked hard to confront blight and crime throughout the neighborhood. Early efforts included extensive public safety initiatives, “clean & green” strategies and the demolition of blighted, crumbling properties too far gone to save. Through the initial conversations in 2010 and 2011, residents were able to identify new projects or themes they wanted to explore in the 10th Ward, This included creating and preserving more passive and active green space: creative ideas for the reuse of vacant lots and buildings, a reuse plan for vacant but prominent neighborhood landmarks (McCleary School and St. Kieran’s Church in particular), a focus on neighborhood gateways at Stanton and McCandless Avenues and are-imagining of the role of McCandless Avenue as a main community corridor.
With this prioritized list of items to explore, the Lawrenceville Corporation secured funding from the Design Fund to support professional planning efforts. An advisory committee representative of the community selected local firm Evolve environment architecture to lead the public engagement and community visioning activities.
As lead consultant, Evolve was tasked with helping create a community endorsed neighborhood vision that residents could work to implement. Through innovative and exciting engagement activities, Evolve worked with the energetic group of residents and business owners to help articulate a vision for the community’s future. Discussions revolved around local food economies, increased green space and storm water management, community gathering space, family friendly amenities and programs, bike lanes, green streets and alleyways and strategies for keeping the neighborhood affordable for long-term residents and families.
Energetic residents, both lifelong and newcomers alike, have driven the process. Dora Walmsley, a new 10th Ward homeowner renovating a house on McCandless, participated in the first two public meetings. “There are few opportunities where one can actually shape the landscape of their neighborhood,” Walmsley noted, “and I feel really fortunate to be able to participate in the Upper Lawrenceville planning process as a new homeowner.” She continued, “I realize many people have been advocating for this for a long time. I look forward to working with my neighbors to positively contribute to the neighborhood we all call home.”
Nancy Bittner is a lifelong resident of the 10th Ward who has experienced the neighborhood transition firsthand. “I’ve seen so many changes in this community over the years, and thanks to the hard work of so many residents, it’s once again beginning to flourish,” said Bittner. “Through the Upper Lawrenceville planning process, we’ve been given the opportunity to shape our neighborhood in a positive way, keeping a focus on the interests and priorities of all residents – new and old alike. It’s exciting to play a part in the future of my neighborhood.”
The Upper Lawrenceville Plan will ultimately serve as a guide for how community organizations and resident stakeholders can make positive, transformative change in the 10th Ward. The community-driven process will provide a clear vision for future of the 10th Ward, and will help shape the next decade of local community development. The second community meeting was held November 29, and the final meeting will take place in mid-January. Please contact Lawrenceville United at 412-802-7220 or [email protected] for the exact date if you are interested in becoming involved.