The Squirrel Hill Urban Coalition has been working for over a decade to create a parklet at the corner of Murray and Phillips in honor of the late mayor and city councilman Bob O’Connor. Mayor O’Connor, known for his kindness, was a longtime Squirrel Hill resident who could often be found talking with constituents at this intersection.
O’Connor’s Corner History
2010 Concept drawing with clock by Rothchild/Doyno designating O’Connor’s Corner after series of community meetings and recommendations for Gateway improvements.
2013 Site plan drawings for 4 Squirrel Hill “Nodes,” including O’Connor’s Corner by Pashek Associates.
2013 April, “O’Connor’s Corner” Clock installed, funding from Councilman O’Connor.
2017 July, County CITF Grant Award $150,000 recommended standards for storm water tree pits and trench drains to reduce storm water run-off on the site.
2018 July, Colcom Foundation Grant Award $25,000 allowed for the hiring of an architect of record.
2018 September, PA DCED GRTF Grant Award $75,000.
2018 November, hired Architect of Record, Steve Hawkins.
2019 March, Received completed Site Survey.
2019 March, Coordinated with City Forester for Tree Pit location and TreeVitalize Application, Forester to choose tree species.
2019 March, Signed Encroachment Agreement with Private Property owner
2019 April, Submitted Encroachment Permit Application to DOMI.
2019 April, Agreement with AECOM to avoid conflicts with future BRT.
2019 April, Agreement with Port Authority to slightly relocate bus shelter.
2019 April, Agreement with Gateway Outdoor to rehab/relocate the existing bus shelter.
2019 June, Frank Dawson drafted grading plan adding ramps for safety and allowing 3 business entrances to become handicapped accessible.
2019 July, Attended Pre-Development Meeting with PWSA to determine permit requirements.
2019 July, hired Bohler Engineering to prepare mitigation plan and application for tap-in permit as per PWSA.
2019 July, Jack Bucher Foundation Grant Award $25,000.
2019 August, coordinated with Peoples Gas to rehab and adjust the location of the meters.
2019 AugustDOMI responded to April Encroachment Permit Application with Email questions, responses helped to get permits from involved City Departments: PLI, DOMI and Mayor’s Office.
2019 October, Zoning Approval of ramps for handicap accessible businesses.
2019 October, DOMI legislative encroachment permit approved by city council. Resolution granting unto SQUIRREL HILL URBAN COALITION the privilege and license to construct, maintain and use at their own cost and expense, (6) tree pits along with (6) benches at 2136-2144 Murray Avenue.
2019 October, Decision to delay construction until spring due to concerns about potential adverse weather conditions and setting concrete.
2020 March, Invitation to Bid in the Post Gazette March 13th and March 20th providing information to those interested in providing a bid to construct “O’Connor’s Corner”
2020 March, Stay at Home order due to COVID 19 requiring a dropbox to communicate with potential bidders and to receive bids, hand delivered bid packet also accepted.
2020 April, Virtual Bid Opening followed by committee evaluation of submissions
2020 April/May, Contact awarded to Baiano Construction, Inc. contract negotiated and signed with Baiano.
2020 April, City Public Works approves contribution of labor for storm water mitigation installation and tree pit construction.
2020 June, Gateway Outdoor Advertising picked up Bus Shelter in order to rehab it.
2020 July, Baiano Concrete Work completed,
2020 July, Lux Ornamental measures for railings for handicapped accessible ramps.
2020 July/August, City Public Works Tree Pits dug, while digging discovered water main pipe running through the center of the pits which meant the full extent of the stormwater mitigation could not be achieved. City Public Works installs forms to procide pedestrial protection from tree pits.
2020 August, Gateway Outdoor Advertising returns re-habed bus shelter to the site.
2020 September, DERO prototype outdoor seating platform installed by Baiano for Dumpling House.
2020 September, SHUC Mural Committee met with potential artists to review criteria for the Mineo’s Wall prior to concept drawing submissions.
2020 October, Mural Committee met on site with Alison Zapata, chosen artist for the Mineo’s Wall to tweak concept design.
2020 October, Lux Ornamental installs railings for handicapped accessible ramps.
2020 October, Mural design for Mineo’s Wall finalized by artist Alison Zapata, preparation will begin for a spring painting and installation.
2020 November, Sestili Nursery plants Bamboo in planters outside Dumpling House and Boxwood in planter beside McGuinn’s Barber Shop. (Chef Lin and Ken agree to water until mid-December when plants will be established!)
2020 November, Large pots installed by Baiano for planting Tree Lilacs, one outside Dumpling House, one near McGuinns.
2020 November, Sestili Nursery provides gravel for drainage and soil for large pots. Sestilis also planted Bamboo at Dumpling House and Boxwood at the barbershop.
2020 November, City Public Works removes forms surrounding tree pits to be ready for planting.
2020 November, TreeVitalize, Western PA Conservancy provides and installed trees in pits along Murray Ave. Trees were also installed in large pots with the assistance of City Public Works Forestry Division. Six Zelkova and two redbuds planted in 3 X 10’ pits and two Tree Lilac in large pots.
2021 March, Coming Soon sign hung on Mineo’s wall depicting the mural that will be painted in the late Spring of 2021 by artist Alison Zapata.
Preserving, Improving, and Celebrating the Quality of Life in Squirrel Hill
For forty-nine years, the Coalition 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, SHUC continues to monitor activities and future developments in the community through a range of standing committees.