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New library dedicated in Hazelwood

| Saturday, June 21, 2014, 1:18 p.m.
Emily Harger | Tribune-Review
Crowds of families and children filled Hazelwood's new Carnegie Library and community center on their grand opening on Saturday, June 21, 2014.
Emily Harger | Tribune-Review
Lutual Love, 7, and his sister Maleka Love, 12, play with spinning plates at Hazelwood's new Carnegie Library and community center on their grand opening on Saturday, June 21, 2014.
Emily Harger | Tribune-Review
Leah Thompson helps her daughter Helen Thompson, 8, of Munhall build a structure in the imagination room at Hazelwood's new Carnegie Library and community center on their grand opening on Saturday, June 21, 2014.
Emily Harger | Tribune-Review
Sonique Johnson and her son Aveyon Allen of Hazelwood exit Hazelwood's new Carnegie Library and community center on their grand opening on Saturday, June 21, 2014.

Hazelwood native Michelle Figlar smiled on Saturday as she watched people stream in and out of the neighborhood's new library and community center along Second Avenue.

“This is like the happiest day in my life, aside from when my children were born,” said Figlar, executive director of the Pittsburgh Association for the Education of Young Children, which will offer programs in the center.

“As someone who grew up in the neighborhood, to have an opportunity to be doing what I hope is some good here means a lot,” Figlar said.

Community leaders and residents see the Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh branch and community center as a first step in the revitalization of Hazelwood, where about a quarter of the 5,000 residents live in poverty.

“This is a great cornerstone for the neighborhood, and it's just the beginning,” said Councilman Corey O'Connor, who represents Hazelwood.

Other projects in the works include the planned opening of a charter school this fall, the potential development of a market to replace a grocery store that closed five years ago and $1 billion in planned development on a 178-acre riverfront site that used to be home to LTV Steel Co.

“I think it's Hazelwood's time,” said Linda Metropulos, director of housing and neighborhood development for Action-Housing, which bought and renovated a former church to house the library and community center in a $2.4 million project.

It used money from the Heinz Endowments, a grant from PNC and loans from the city's Urban Redevelopment Authority.

Hazelwood's original library on Monongahela Avenue closed in 2004. Since, in what was thought to be a temporary move for only a few years, the library system rented space above a Second Avenue beer distributor.

The library is about 7,000 square feet — twice the size of the old one.

Filgar's Pittsburgh Association for the Education of Young Children and Council of Three Rivers American Indian Center will occupy the building's lower level, offering programs for young children and families.

Tom Fontaine is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-320-7847 or tfontaine@tribweb.com.

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