The Squirrel Hill Urban Coalition
[dropcap background=”yes”]T[/dropcap]he Squirrel Hill Urban Coalition (SHUC) is a non-profit community organization dedicated to preserving, improving, and celebrating the quality of life in Pittsburgh’s 14th Ward. Since its establishment in 1973, SHUC has been an active and important link in the community. It has served as a sounding board for new ideas, as well as a “watchdog” in the areas of public safety, education, residential quality, the business district, and parks and open space. With its focus on the quality of life in the 14th Ward, the SHUC continues to monitor activities and future developments in the community through a range of standing committees.
Our Vision and Mission:
Our shared vision is reflected through a long range planning process, which fosters community-based initiatives in the areas of education, public safety, transportation, parks and open spaces, and commercial, institutional, and residential development. These concerns are then directed to respective volunteer-supported standing committees which work to allow our residents and partners to have a voice as we continue to shape of our neighborhood. The committees also provide leadership to our community by studying, debating, and advocating positions on issues affecting our neighborhood’s vitality.
We know that no two individuals feel exactly the same about how to continue a vibrant and thriving Squirrel Hill, thus our emphasis is therefore on education and dialogue. Our committees provide an open forum for YOUR ideas and energy.
Based on decisions made at the committee level, the Coalition board takes action by offering support or opposition to projects and plans that directly impact the 14th Ward. To learn more about these committees and how to affect the future of Squirrel Hill, become a member today! The only requirement to participate is that you are a member of the Coalition.
History & Milestones:
Key milestones in the history of SHUC cover a range of issues, including but not limited to, Education, Public Safety, Business District Improvements, Land Use, Parks and Open spaces, and Long Range Planning. A timeline of some of these milestones is set forth below:
- Organized and implemented cooperative efforts between the City and the Forbes Avenue businesses between Murray and Shady to replace the water and sewer infrastructure, repave Forbes, and widen and repave the sidewalks.
- Opposed the construction of a ten story high rise on Northumberland Street across from the Schenley Park Golf Course, which led to the present townhouse development.
- Organized the opposition to the City’s plan to lease the Schenley Golf Course to a nine-hole commercial venture that proposed fencing, a lighted driving range, and liquor license. This opposition effort ultimately facilitated the restoration and the management of the Golf Course to Carnegie Mellon University (CMU).
- Developed a Cooperation Agreement between SHUC and CMU for an aesthetic and neighborhood friendly parking garage at Forbes and Beeler Avenues, as well as provided for community review and input into other building projects on its campus.
- Acquired the Wightman Elementary School for use as a Community center for multiple community based activities and programs. Subsequently sold the building to the Carriage House Children’s’ Center, who rehabilitated the building.
- Successfully opposed the Pittsburgh School District’s plan to stop busing students to Colfax Elementary School from the western part of Squirrel Hill
- Initiated a long-range planning process, which resulted in the publication of a long-range planning and development proposal for the City of Pittsburgh’s 14th Ward.
- Introduced the concept of the extension of Frick Park to the Monongahela River and the residential development of the Nine Mile Run slag dump, which was part of the long- range plan, to then, City Councilman, Bob O’Connor. O’Connor brought this development concept to the attention of Mayor Tom Murphy who implemented the Summerset Development at Frick Park and Parkland Nature Preserve along Nine Mile Run.
- Successfully opposed the Pittsburgh School District plan to eliminate the Scholars Program at Taylor Allderdice High School.
- Working with the City, developed and implemented a pedestrian safety traffic light and crosswalk along Forbes Avenue in the business district, as well as a crossing system at the Forbes and Murray, and Forbes and Shady corners.
- Developed and implemented the Squirrel Hill Citizens Patrol, a neighborhood crime prevention program, with the City Police Department.
- Represented the community views and concerns in order to retain the Giant Eagle grocery store on Murray Avenue in Squirrel Hill, which led to a store renovation.
- Represented the community concerns and interests regarding building proposals by the Jewish Community Center (JCC), the Jewish Education Institute (JEI) and the Jewish Agency on Aging (JAA) which resulted in a reconfiguration of the originally proposed expansions. The final plan resulted in the Darlington Avenue JCC building, Weinberg Terrace, an assisted living facility on Bartlett Street, the renovation of the former St. Philomena School into the Community Day School, and new and renovated facilities on Browns Hill Road, at the Charles Morris Nursing facility.
1996 – 2009
- Lobbied against changes in Title I funds allocation that would have distributed funds based on the socioeconomic level of the neighborhood in which a school was located, and not on the actual population of the school. Minadeo, Colfax, Linden and Reizenstein would have been deprived of any such funding based on that funding formula.
- Supported the creation of the Colfax Spanish Academy and expansion to K-8.
- Successfully worked to reduce the density of the Beechwood Commons development project.
- Organized and supported the CAN IT program, which contributed to a cleaner business district.
- Helped to orchestrate the design and implementation of the mural located in the Starbucks parking lot on lower Murray Avenue.
- Instrumental in reinstating the Bach, Beethoven and Brunch Sunday morning concerts in Mellon Park (2005).
- Organized and supported the Squirrel Hill Litter Patrol, a grassroots effort by community residents to eradicate litter from the business district and residential streets.
- Instrumental in creating the Squirrel Hill Skate Park on Hobart Street
2010 – present
- Secured over $400,000 worth of streetscape improvements along Forbes and Murray Avenues in the Squirrel Hill business district, including new lighting, trees, murals, banners and the new “Welcome to Squirrel Hill” sign near the parkway entrance.
- Renovated the Squirrel Hill Post Office parklet and a new clock anchors O’Connor’s Corner.
- Initiated discussions for development and improvement of the Forward-Murray Gateway cooridor
- Over 20 significant community improvements have grown from our 20-year mast plan, including Summerset at Frick Park, the Giant Eagle expansion, plus park/payground and school renewal. We’re working to update that plan now.
- Honoring annually three outstanding Squirrel Hill residents and one place as an official Squirrel Hill Treasure. To date there are over 20 awardees.
- Create, Publish and distribute Squirrel Hill Magazine to 16,500 homes and businesses—all as a free community service, four times a year!
- Hold annual Spring Clean-up to minimize litter with citizen volunteers and keep our beloved neighborhood beautiful and clean–2015 saw our biggest group yet with over 140 volunteers and friends