Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Mckeesport Works to Reclaim, Clean Up

Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Mckeesport Works to Reclaim, Clean Up

Article excerpt

In an effort to help beautify McKeesport, the city has been working with GTECH Strategies of Pittsburgh to reclaim vacant lots in a Reclaim McKeesport Ambassador Program.

Last fall, several resident volunteers, called "ambassadors," studied ways to help combat blight, clean up abandoned property and turn it into gardens, picnic areas or playgrounds. Upon completion of the educational sessions with GTECH, the ambassadors received micro-grants to help implement their projects.

On April 21, the ambassadors presented their projects to the public, detailing the specific area and asking for volunteers' time, money and supplies. More than 70 people attended the meeting at Founders Hall Middle School.

"This is such a great way to celebrate the coming of spring," said Evaine Sing, director of operations and programming at GTECH.

McKeesport has more than 2,000 vacant lots. It is the first city in Allegheny County outside of Pittsburgh to work with GTECH and its ambassador program.

"The outpouring of support from the McKeesport community has just been fantastic," said James Snow, GTECH project manager.

Among the projects presented was one from community ambassador Julie Fleckenstein for a trail garden along the Great Allegheny Passage, the 150-mile trail stretching from Pittsburgh to Cumberland, Md.

"I want to do a site on the trail because I think that's one of the key gems of McKeesport," she said. "If people see a beautiful spot, they'll remember a beautiful spot."

Ms. Fleckenstein hopes to convert the lot into a space that is "inviting to bikers and hikers" and one that also attracts, birds, bees and butterflies.

Rhonda Moorer came up with Noah's Ark Community Park as her ambassador project.

"I had picked out the spot even before they picked me," Ms. Moorer said.

The space is vacant land at 626 Market St. that Ms. …

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