Frankel: Nearly $600,000 in grants to fund community revitalization, arts and recreation

PITTSBURGH, Sept. 18 – Nearly $600,000 in grants will help fund a gateway revitalization project and boost arts and recreation for Pittsburgh area residents, House Democratic Caucus Chairman Dan Frankel, D-Allegheny, announced today.

The grants include $75,000 to the Squirrel Hill Urban Coalition for improvements to “O’Connor’s Corner” on the Murray Avenue business corridor, $300,000 to the Pittsburgh Opera to fund its operations during the 2018-19 season and $194,125 to The First Tee of Pittsburgh for construction work on a new clubhouse building/learning center at the Bob O’Connor Golf Course.

Frankel said the grant for the Squirrel Hill project – approved by the Commonwealth Financing Authority – will help fund a revitalization project that will add streetscape amenities, storm water enhancements, a green bus shelter and directional signage to Squirrel Hill’s “O’Connor’s Corner,” an area named as a tribute to the former Pittsburgh mayor.

“It’s hard to overemphasize the impact of this grant, which is going to help transform Squirrel Hill’s gateway into a vibrant community meeting place where residents can walk, shop and socialize,” Frankel said. “The gateway’s new face will also draw businesses and stimulate tourism. It’s a tremendous step forward for a place that’s deeply significant to residents.”

Frankel said the grant to the opera – which will fund artistic and technical labor; rental of equipment, facilities, scenery and costumes; marketing for productions and delivery of sets – will stimulate the local economy while preserving an essential community resource.
“Pittsburgh’s commitment to the arts is legendary,” Frankel said. “Our arts organizations are equally committed to our community. The new season of the Pittsburgh Opera will showcase classic opera and new works, reaching beyond traditional subscribers to stimulate younger minds and broaden perspectives. And of course, it also means hundreds of temporary and permanent jobs for workers in the arts in Southwestern Pennsylvania.”

Frankel said the opera’s seven core programming events and related activities will allow it to reach an estimated audience of 45,000, including 5,000 students.

The grant to First Tee of Pittsburgh will be used to ensure that the new Arnold Palmer Learning Center the organization is building meets LEED green-building standards, with environmentally friendly technology that allows storm water runoff to be collected for irrigation.

“The O’Connor golf course, led by nonprofit First Tee, is our city’s only golf course, but the current building is dilapidated,” Frankel said. “The new building will not only be LEED certified, increasing the value of public property, but it will also be able to include a new learning center for students.”

Frankel thanked the Commonwealth Financing Authority board for approving all three grants.

The Squirrel Hill gateway project grant is funded through the state Greenways, Trails and Recreation Program. The opera and clubhouse project grants are funded through the state Gaming and Economic Development Tourism Fund. The fund supports community and economic development in Allegheny County through revenue generated from casinos.