Allegheny River Towns Enterprise Zone receives $350K for municipal projects
Eddie Figas wants people to not just drive through Millvale but to stay a while.
“There's enough here to keep people here for about half a day. We'd like to have enough to keep people here for the whole day,” said Figas, economic development director in Millvale, whose attractions include restaurants, a bakery, a brewery, a vintage record store, a hobby shop and a gallery and frame shop called the Panza Gallery that sometimes exhibits sculpture.
Millvale is one of seven member communities of the Allegheny River Towns Enterprise Zone, a community economic development organization that received $350,000 in grants last week.
The organization received $200,000 from the Heinz Endowments and $150,000 from the Redevelopment Authority of Allegheny County. ARTEZ, as it's known, hired Iris Whitworth as the organization's executive director.
“It's an unprecedented opportunity for communities to basically create an economic development engine for the local economy of our seven communities,” Whitworth said.
The organization, formed in 2005, is made up of seven municipalities along the lower portion of the Allegheny River: Millvale, Etna, Sharpsburg, Blawnox, Aspinwall, O'Hara and Shaler.
The grants will be used to build and rehabilitate sustainable housing in Sharpsburg, Etna, Blawnox and Millvale, where some rental properties have absentee landlords. Other uses will include riverfront planning and business development on main streets.
The organization's goals include standardizing zoning and extending the Three Rivers Heritage Trail, which stops in Millvale. Only a small portion of the towns' riverfronts have parks or hiking trails.
Heinz became interested in underwriting the project because of the level of cooperation that the municipalities have shown in recent years, said Rob Stephany, director of the community and economic development program at the Heinz Endowments.
“The municipalities seem to be talking to each other more. They already have a history of working with private property owners to clean brownfield sites. We were compelled by the shared vision the seven municipalities have. They share the river and have the potential of being very vibrant neighborhoods,” Stephany said.
Millvale, Etna and Sharpsburg are more likely to flood than Aspinwall or O'Hara, which has higher property values.
To an extent, absentee landlords and abandoned buildings are a problem in Millvale, Etna and Sharpsbug — all 19th-century river towns.
“The homes in those towns have not had the historic rehabs the way they did in Aspinwall,” Whitworth said.
Municipal officials say they appreciate the advocacy on their behalf.
“This organization gives all the communities a bigger voice. Municipalities are all financially stretched now. We need to look at marketing and attracting economic opportunity. Everything is regional now,” said Mary Ellen Ramage, Etna's manager.
Rick Wills is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-320-7944 or at email@example.com
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- McCandless mortgage broker company president charged with bank fraud conspiracy
- Muslim group to host interfaith symposium
- Federal judge dismisses Monongahela mayor’s lawsuit against district judge, district attorney
- Company claims Carnegie Mellon University defrauded it on Tartarstan venture
- Ice falling from Allegheny County Courthouse frightens passersby
- PUC fines 8 transport companies, including 2 in Western Pennsylvania
- Easter Seals merger in Pennsylvania raises ethics concerns
- Pittsburgh councilwoman Rudiak announces bid for city controller
- PennDOT to replace drivers licenses issued since November without proper security features
- ‘My baby is gone,’ father says after dog kills his toddler in West Mifflin
- Moon board president vows to end disruption of official business at meetings