Residents of 3 A-K Valley areas brainstorm for future
Hundreds of people have weighed in so far with ideas for a shared plan to improve neighboring Brackenridge, Tarentum and Harrison, according to municipal officials.
The three communities in February began an anticipated $90,000 project to develop a joint comprehensive plan that spells out long-term goals and strategies for improving the area. The project’s first public meeting last week drew about 80 people to the Salvation Army in Brackenridge, and about 475 people have responded to a community questionnaire.
“People stayed and talked until it was time to leave,” Tarentum Councilwoman Lou Ann Homa said of last week’s two-hour meeting. “There was a lot of conversation.”
People have until Saturday to fill out the online questionnaire.
Elaine Kramer, a planner and landscape designer with the Pittsburgh-based planning firm Pashek+MTR, said those who attended last week’s meeting shared ideas for building on community strengths to improve the area. She said her firm is transcribing the ideas, left on sticky notes, into a spreadsheet.
A steering committee overseeing the project will review the input received and look for patterns, but Kramer said the ideas shared appeared to fall into five categories: government and community services; transportation, roads and infrastructure; business and economic development; redevelopment, zoning and code enforcement; and parks, recreation and open space.
Community strengths identified by residents at the meeting included the area’s small-town feel and character, along with its parks, green spaces, riverfront, walkability and people and institutions willing to volunteer and participate in community life.
Tarentum’s Homa described the collaborating done during last week’s meeting as a positive, noting that she found Brackenridge and Harrison residents interested in the Tarentum Action Committee, a volunteer group that recently cleaned up several abandoned properties in the borough.
“I had people from Brackenridge and people from Harrison asking how we were able to accomplish that,” Homa said. “They thought it was fantastic.”
Kramer said her firm will develop a formal list of key issues to share with the steering committee and governing bodies in each community to “check whether we’re on the right track and to, we hope, build buy-in for the goals and content of the plan.”
Another public meeting will be held. A date has not been set yet.
The project’s cost is being partially covered by a $50,000 grant from Allegheny County Economic Development. The remaining $40,000 is being split among the two boroughs and township based on their populations — about $23,000 from Harrison, almost $10,000 from Tarentum and about $7,000 from Brackenridge.
Brian C. Rittmeyer is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Brian at 724-226-4701, [email protected] or via Twitter .