Category Archives: Community

Beaver Falls Native Linwood Alford Has Always Been ‘Called to Serve’

By Timothy Cox
Beaver County Times

BEAVER FALLS, March 7, 2022 — For older generations in the city, the name Linwood Alford has been a constant for several years.

As a Google subject, his name quickly arises as the childhood friend of NFL Hall of Fame quarterback Joe Willie Namath.

Boating buddies Linwood Alford (Left) and Joe Namath. The Beaver Falls natives have known each other since childhood. Alford is best known outside Beaver County for his friendship with Namath, but county residents tout his service to his community.


Now, The Times provides Alford a chance to recite his own story – including his early years, in connection with the world-renowned professional athlete.

Service to the community


As a career, for many years, Alford has focused his energies in support of those who may have difficulties helping themselves. A self-described “union man” and proud Democrat, Alford initially worked in the construction industry before serving on boards while committing his life to the continuous improvement of Beaver Countians, in all phases, regardless of ethnicity, creed or culture.

Linwood Alford as member of board of directors for the Larry Bruno Foundation Pictured are, first row, l-r, Ron Main, Artie DeSisto; second row, Linwood Alford, Pete Pietrandrea, Ed DeRose, Bob Ricci; and third row, Jim Carbone, Judge Richard Mancini and Steve Higgins.
In recent years, Alford has served as vice president of Lincoln Park (Midland Innovation Technology) Charter School; vice president of Beaver County Democratic Board; director of Civil Rights Labor Council; Job Training Board and (I-DAC) aka Individual Diversity Awareness Council; and as an official with the Beaver-Lawrence Central Labor Council.

He’s also a member of the Aliquippa Council of Men and Fathers.

In addition to Namath, Linwood has several local notables of which he considers close friends and associates including Senior Beaver County Judge Richard Mancini, Ambridge attorney Steve Kocherzat, area broadcast notable Chris Shovlin, Beaver Valley NAACP President Mtume Imani and another lifelong friend, Victor Freddie Mannerino.

“I’ve known him for many years – but respected him, even before I knew him,” Mancini said.

If it pleases the court


“I’ve always called Linwood a gem for our local community. Regardless of creed, color or religion – he’s just been a good person. Of course, many people know him as Joe Namath’s original friend, but there’s so much more to him than that. It goes back to his upbringing. Real Beaver Falls residents know,” added Mancini, 68, himself a Beaver Falls native.

In his spare time, Alford works as a tip staffer at the Beaver County Courthouse, under the auspices of Mancini. He describes his courtroom role as similar to a bailiff, adding that he often introduces the judge to courtroom attendees.

“He’s a natural in this position,” Mancini said. “Linwood is a people person and it takes someone with personality in order to be effective in this role.”

Sixth Street Brothers’


Linwood was born Jan. 5, 1944 – the youngest of eight siblings to Clifford and Mary Lee Coleman Alford.

Having recently turned 78, Alford admits he’s humbled and blessed to have maintained a sharp memory, enough to still recall significant past episodes of his life.

Having joined Tabernacle Baptist Church at age 13, Alford said he remains forever thankful that his parents provided him with a spiritual foundation that has kept him in safe, protective environments “especially during his 14-month” U.S. Army stint in Vietnam.

Continue reading Beaver Falls Native Linwood Alford Has Always Been ‘Called to Serve’

‘We have rights’: Renters protest ‘unlivable’ conditions at Aliquippa’s Towne Towers

Chrissy SuttlesBeaver County TimesView Comments

Tamika Lee with Beaver County United on Wednesday urged Towne Towers residents to start a claim with Neighborhood Legal Services and withhold their rent until property owners address 'unlivable conditions' at the 434 Franklin Ave. building.

ALIQUIPPA — Iris Jackson says she hasn’t had reliable heat in six days as frigid air continues to grip western Pennsylvania.

That’s par for the course at downtown Aliquippa’s Towne Towers, the longtime tenant said, as is rampant flooding, pests and mold. 

Jackson, using her walker for support, joined Beaver County United activists on Wednesday demanding property owners address “unlivable conditions” at the century-old 434 Franklin Ave. building.

Such conditions, Jackson said, include unpredictable heating in the winter, inadequate air conditioning in the summer, flooding due to unrepaired pipes, water-damaged ceilings, rodent infestations and broken elevators.

The rodent infestation has led to feces and urine in the halls and ceilings, residents reported at the rally. Mold and mildew are often spotted throughout the 60-unit building that houses a number of low-income renters, including older adults with disabilities. 

Iris Jackson, of Aliquippa, tells Aliquippa Code Enforcement Officer Jim Bologna about the “deplorable” state of Towne Towers at Wednesday’s rally.

Speaking outside of the Aliquippa City Building, Jackson said property managers are abusing their power and ignoring renters’ complaints.

“No one should have to go without heat in the middle of winter,” Jackson said. “As tenants, we have rights. Rats…I almost sat on one. I killed another in my kitchen; I have urine and feces coming down my ceiling from 2020 that’s still not fixed.”

Towne Towers is owned by Texas-based Eureka Multifamily Group, which also owns Valley Terrace Apartments in Aliquippa. The company on its website touts a range of amenities at both properties, including “individually controlled central air and heating.” Calls made to the building’s office and Eureka leadership were not immediately returned Wednesday. 

“I think tenants should withhold their rent until housing fixes their situation,” said Tamika Lee with Beaver County United, urging residents to start a claim with Neighborhood Legal Services. “If you are paying your rent, there is no reason you shouldn’t be able to access your building. Forcing tenants to pay rent in unlivable conditions like this is violent, and management needs to be held accountable for neglecting their tenants while taking their money.”

Property owners and landlords are facing widespread scrutiny throughout the region for their sluggish response to heating interruptions as temperatures plummet. 

More:The Cornerstone of Beaver County offering aid across Beaver County

Towne Towers, at 434 Franklin Ave. in Aliquippa, is over 100 years old.

State laws governing landlords are sometimes hard to enforce. The Pennsylvania Supreme Court in the 1970s established the “implied warranty of habitability” that entitles renters to a safe, habitable home. This, in part, requires landlords to make non-cosmetic repairs that would otherwise put lives or welfare at risk, including lack of running water and inadequate heat in the winter. 

Landlords are also typically responsible for eliminating insect or rodent infestations and fixing substantial leaks. What’s considered “adequate” heat in a rental unit is often determined at the municipal level, according to the Housing Equality Center of Pennsylvania.

The city “isn’t sitting idly by,” said Aliquippa Mayor Dwan Walker and Aliquippa Code Enforcement Officer Jim Bologna, but because the building is privately owned and receives Section 8 funding from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, their influence is “limited.”

“The city has been fighting,” Walker said. He and Bologna have met with HUD officials and property owners to work toward a solution, they said.

Governor Wolf Talks Revitalization During Aug 11 Visit to Aliquippa

Gov. Tom Wolf, right, stands beside Aliquippa Mayor Dwan Walker on Wednesday in Aliquippa. Wolf visited the city to discuss ways Aliquippa will use the $11 million in state grants it has received since 2015.
Aliquippa Mayor Dwan Walker with Gov Wolf

ALIQUIPPA — Gov. Tom Wolf visited Aliquippa Wednesday morning to take a closer look at what a several-million-dollar investment into the city will look like.

The city was awarded several state grants since 2015 reaching a little over $11 million. Each grant targets innovation and revitalization in the old mill town, which has struggled economically since the demise of the steel industry.

Talking Tykes:Aliquippa: Some of the greatest started here, but it wants to be more than a football town

“If you think about the history of Aliquippa, 51% of the population lived and worked in that mill,” Mayor Dwan Walker said Wednesday. “So why not us? Why not Aliquippa come back as a phoenix rising from the ashes, why not a renaissance in Aliquippa?”

Walker explained what the city has done, and plans to do in the future, with the grant money. 

Some of those projects include reconfiguration of the Route 51 interchange, manufacturing, updated housing and commercial buildings, updated zoning ordinances, pedestrian and vehicle safety measures, and other developments spearheaded by local committees, residents and officials, including the Aliquippa school board, city council and water authority, the city Economic Development Corporation, and others.

Wolf visited the East End Development Site in Aliquippa to see how state investments have helped the city to remove blighted properties and prepare the land near a Route 51 interchange for future business development and prepare to capitalize on the petrochemicals plant that Shell Chemicals is constructing a few miles from the city. 

Aliquippa Mayor Dwan Walker, right, answers questions from the press on Wednesday during a visit from Gov. Tom Wolf, left, to discuss ways the city will use the $11 million in state grants it has received since 2015.

More than $7.7 million of the $11 million will support the East End Development Site.

Some of the investments made in Aliquippa to date include:

  • Grant and low-interest loan financing to perform environmental site assessments and remediation work at former industrial sites through the Industrial Sites Reuse Program.
  • Funding through the Blight Remediation Program to assist with blight remediation.
  • $7 million to reconfigure the Route 51 interchange adjacent to the East End Development site through the TIIF program.
  • $72,500 in Act 47 funding to support Aliquippa in its redevelopment efforts.
  • $365,000 in Keystone Communities funding to demolish commercial buildings at the East End Development site.
  • $500,000 to make pedestrian and vehicular safety improvements to the main corridor on Fifth Avenue through the Multi-Modal Transportation Program
  • $140,233 to complete site preparation and clearance on the Bricks site project.
  • $25,000 through the Municipal Assistance Program to update land-use regulations including the zoning ordinance.
  • More than $2.4 million in Neighborhood Partnership Funding via a donation from BNY Mellon to fund the redevelopment of Aliquippa.

Visiting Aliquippa reminded Wolf of his own town of York. Before getting into politics, the governor said he was involved in revitalizing that community.

“I got into politics because I was concerned about my own community, York,” Wolf said. “And I saw in Dwan the kind of leadership that every community really needs.

“It takes both state and local leadership to make projects like Aliquippa’s effective,” he said.

“There is an inside game and an outside game, and state is the outside game, and we need to do what we can do to help, but it really is a wonderful thing when you have leadership and the energy that you’re showing, Dwan, because Aliquippa early deserves to be back to where it was, and even better,” Wolf said. “And you’re doing that, and I’m proud to be a partner with you.”

Some during Wednesday’s briefing asked if gentrification could result from these revitalization efforts.

Wolf said having local people spearhead these projects will help keep the integrity of the community.

“Who’s in charge of this development? That’s going to make a really big difference,” he said. “They’re not just at the table, they are the table.”

Walker said as a life-long resident of Aliquippa, he and others committed to these projects will make sure gentrification doesn’t happen.

“Gentrification is not something we speak of,” he said. “Everybody in this city will have an equal opportunity to speak on anything that comes. We’re looking for partners, we’re not looking for bullies.

“So if you want to sit down and talk about how the future is going to be, we’re here to listen. But if you’re going to come in and take advantage of us, we’ve already had that happen,” Walker added. “I don’t know why our residents think gentrification is going to happen — it’s not.” 

He called the projects and initiatives in the city “a renaissance of Aliquippa,” built on partnership and collaboration, and hope and possibility.”

“The state programs have helped usher in a renaissance in the city of Aliquippa,” Walker said.

Gov. Tom Wolf stands with local leaders during his visit to Aliquippa on Wednesday. Leaders spoke with the governor about ways the city will use the $11 million in state grants it has received since 2015.

Working-Class Culture: Bocce, Bands, Car Cruises Gets Rolling Again at Aliquippa’s Sheffield Lanes

By Scott Tady
Beaver County Times

May 11, 2021 – ALIQUIPPA – Bocce balls and bands soon get rolling again at Sheffield Lanes.

The Aliquippa fun spot, long popular for its bowling lanes and its Ricky Dee’s Pizza, knows people are looking for outside entertainment, too.

Hence the return of two regulationsize bocce courts that debuted successfully in 2019, but didn’t see much action last year due to the pandemic.

“We’ll be available all summer for people to play bocce from Thursdays to Sundays starting May 20,” Zach D’Agostino, of the familyowned Sheffield Lanes, said.

Customers can try their hand at the traditional Italian balltossing sport played on a natural surface below a veranda where guests can lounge and sip a drink, puff a cigar, or on some nights catch a live band.

The veranda and bocce courts were hopping in this 2019 photo from Sheffield Lanes. The Aliquippa restaurant has reopened the bocce courts and will bring back bands in June.
“We are launching music on the veranda in June,” owner Rick D’Agostino said. “I was being a little cautious when I scheduled bands, so I only booked one per week on alternating Fridays and Saturdays, but I am thinking of filling in a couple more dates here and there.”

Currently booked:

•June 4 and July 10: The Living Street, an acoustic folkrock duo focused on harmonies and songwriting.

•June 12 and July 16: Joe Munroe, Beaver County Musicians’ Hall of Famer, keyboardist for Ghost Hounds and human encyclopedia of music.

•June 18 and July 24: Bobby Thompson, the acclaimed rock & blues guitaristvocalist.

•June 26 and July 30: The High Level Band jam band that gets people dancing.

•July 2: Jordan McLaughlin, solo vocalist and acoustic guitarist heard on WLERFM (97.7 The Rock Station.)

Continue reading Working-Class Culture: Bocce, Bands, Car Cruises Gets Rolling Again at Aliquippa’s Sheffield Lanes

FBI Declared Pittsburgh A New White Supremacy Hub, But It Has Been This Way For Decades

Pittsburghers marching in protest in October 2018 through Squirrel Hill towards the Tree of Life synagogue, where President Trump was making an appearance, three days after a mass shooting took place. CP photo: Jared Wickerham

By Ryan Deto
Pittsburgh City Paper

Nov 15. 2020 – This week at a symposium on domestic terrorism held at Duquesne University, an analyst at the FBI said the Pittsburgh region has now “become a hub for white supremacy” and that it is “important to understand that it is here.”

Considering that the white nationalist group Patriot Front marched down Boulevard of the Allies last weekend, the Ku Klux Klan distributed mailers in Greene County last month, and there have been other selfdescribed militia groups meeting in the area, sporting symbols linked to whitenationalism, acknowledgment from the FBI is a positive sign for those looking to combat hate groups.

However, declarations that Pittsburgh is a new hub for white supremacy ignore decades of history and scores of documented cases of white supremacists gathering and organizing over the years.

Dennis Roddy is a former reporter with the Greensburg TribuneReview and Pittsburgh PostGazette and has written about extremist movements in the region for decades. He says Pittsburgh has always been a hub for white supremacy.

“No, this is not new,” says Roddy. “Just because the FBI is noticing this now, doesn’t make this new.”

Roddy was a reporter for 40 years, and he attended his first KKK rally as a reporter in Fayette County in 1979. He said the rhetoric he heard then was not much different than what he heard among neighbors growing up in Johnstown.

But it’s not just rural parts of Southwestern Pennsylvania where white supremacy has had a significant presence. The National Alliance, which the Southern Poverty Law Center says “was for decades the most dangerous and best organized neoNazi formation in America,” grew out of the Youth for Wallace group that backed Governor George Wallace’s 1968 presidential campaign. Wallace was a prosegregationist and considered one of the most openly racist presidential candidates of the postcivil rights era.

Continue reading FBI Declared Pittsburgh A New White Supremacy Hub, But It Has Been This Way For Decades

Book review: ‘THE MINISTRY for THE FUTURE’

It’s unwise to ignore Mother Nature, and not to find ways to live in harmony with her, and all other beings as well

By Kim Stanley Robinson
Orbit ($28)

Reviewed by Tom Cox

Pittsburgh Post Gazette

Make no mistake, Kim Stanley Robinson’s new novel, “The Ministry of the Future,” is a good old-fashioned monster story. As with most monster stories, there is an inciting incident witnessed by a few wide-eyed and hysterical nobodies, but their cries are deemed “unreliable.” Who knows what they saw? It only affected those people. And besides, what do they expect us to do, empty the beaches on a holiday weekend just because somebody thinks they saw a shark?

In many of these tales, the monster is a metaphor for something else, such as “Babadook” (grief), “Rosemary’s Baby” (motherhood), “Get Out” (racism), and “Frankenstein” (humanity). But some of the scariest monster stories give us nightmares about the normal things we see in life. Not vampires, werewolves, blobs or radioactive lizards but crazed fans, preppie New York investment bankers or creepy hotel clerks. In “The Ministry of the Future,” Mr. Robinson aims his flashlight into the black waters to reveal just such a monster: climate change. Yeah, we’re going to need a bigger boat.

True to good monster lore, our story begins with an attack: a record-setting Indian heat wave knocks out power and roasts 20 million of the planet’s most vulnerable in two weeks’ time. Enter Mary Murphy, head of the Ministry of the Future, a rather toothless U.N. watchdog agency based in Zurich and created by an international treaty. Nevertheless, Murphy is serious about making a difference in the world and about her agency’s stated mission: “to advocate for the world’s future generations and to protect all living creatures, present and future.” Despite the Indian tragedy, her attempts to enact real and drastic reduction in carbon emissions is resisted. National sovereignties are cited. Fingers of blame are pointed at the long-term carbon culprits, who in turn accuse the most recent contributors. Financial institutions entrench behind privilege and market share. The monster is not our problem.

When the rebuffed Murphy is confronted and briefly held captive in her own home by an addled survivor of the Indian carnage, she recognizes in his frantic demands not a criminal element but perhaps humanity itself (her own humanity?) crying out for drastic steps to be taken — acts of eco-terrorism and even the assassination of select carbon perpetrators. After the man is captured and her safety assured, Murphy finds it hard to dismiss his humble sacrifice and haunted eyes. Does confronting a monster like climate change call for more drastic steps? If black ops are used to fight terrorism, why not this? Maybe it’s time to get our hands dirty. She soon discovers, however, that her darkest notions of such an unauthorized, covert and lethal outfit already exists.

Whereas Mr. Robinson’s earlier novels on climate change, “New York 2140” and “2312,” are set far in the future and deal with the long-term aftermath of the destruction it caused, “The Ministry of the Future” dares to set events within our lifetimes, or at least within the lifetimes of our children. Thirty years from now, the devastation is just beginning. Things can still be done to stop the monster, but only if drastic and expensive steps are immediately undertaken and only if the whole world takes it seriously. If you have met the world, however, you know that this probably isn’t going to go well.

Mr. Robinson’s intrigue and geopolitical drama are well supported by his meticulous research into every sort of environmental theory, proposed solution and geo-engineering possibility, which he deftly incorporates into his work. If you’ve been looking for an environmental monster story in which the heroes are scientists who aren’t above taking off their gloves and getting their hands dirty, this might just be the campfire story for you.

Tom Cox is a writer living in Penn Hills.

Pittsburgh’s Sala Udin Gets Presidential Pardon, 44 Years Later

20161228-SalaPortrait001 Sala Udin at his Pittsburgh home.

Sala Udin at his Pittsburgh home.

By Tracie Mauriello

Post-Gazette Washington Bureau

WASHINGTON — Sala Udin was stopped for speeding as he drove from a rally in Mississippi to drop off a carload of fellow Freedom Riders in Cleveland before heading home to Pittsburgh. Police who stopped him in Kentucky that day in 1970 searched his car, found an unloaded shotgun and a jug of Mississippi moonshine, and hauled him off to jail.

In 1972, he was sent to federal prison for seven months, with the shadow of his conviction hanging over him for the next 44 years.

No more.

On Monday, President Barack Obama pardoned the civil rights activist and 77 other people across the country. The president also issued 153 commutations to people sentenced for a variety of crimes, most involving manufacturing, selling or possessing drugs.

That brings the president’s total clemency actions to 1,324 — more than any predecessor since Lyndon B. Johnson.

Mr. Obama’s pardons and commutations “exemplify his belief that America is a nation of second chances,” said Neil Eggleston, counsel to the president. “While each clemency recipient’s story is unique, the common thread of rehabilitation underlies them all.”

A presidential pardon grants absolution as if a crime had never occurred.

“It’s a second chance, and I think — for most crimes — people deserve a second chance. Some of them would mess up again, but most of them would take full advantage of a second chance,” Mr. Udin said.

Continue reading Pittsburgh’s Sala Udin Gets Presidential Pardon, 44 Years Later

Aliquippa Crime: Perception Isn’t Always Reality

 

By Kristen Doerschner

kdoerschner@timesonline.com

    ALIQUIPPA — When District Attorney Anthony Berosh speaks to community groups throughout Beaver County, he poses a question to them: How many homicides do you think Aliquippa had last year?

      The estimates people typically give are astoundingly high, he said, often ranging from 20 to as high as 40.

      In reality, the numbers aren’t even remotely close to that high. There was one homicide in the city in 2013, two in 2012 and none in 2011.

      Berosh said when he tells people the actual numbers, they are “flabbergasted.”

      Certain factors within a community tend to correlate to higher crime statistics. Berosh said areas of dense population, a higher proportion of lower-income residents, a large number of rental properties and a large number of residents under the age of 25 tend to have more crime.

      Statistics do show the instances of violent crime in Aliquippa have been on a downward trend over the past decade.

      “You can’t deny that crime occurs in Aliquippa. You can’t deny that crime occurs in any of our communities,” Berosh said.

      The problem is the perception many people have regarding that crime.

      Berosh is quick to point out the perception problem isn’t Aliquippa’s problem.

      “The problem we have as a Beaver County community is the perception we have of Aliquippa,” he said. “They don’t have that problem of perception. We do.”

      Residents and community leaders in the city are frustrated by the view so many people seem to have.

      Herb Bailey moved to Aliquippa from Nashville, Tenn., nearly two years ago to run the ministry at Uncommon Grounds, a popular coffee shop on Franklin Avenue. He quickly found the city to be an inviting place that he made home and moved his family to Franklin Avenue.

      He said he has no hesitation about living in the city or letting his teenage daughters walk through town on their own. He doesn’t view the city as a dangerous place.

      But Bailey learned in short order how others view his new home.

      He said his daughters — who have an interest in art and attend Lincoln Park Performing Arts Charter School in Midland — would invite friends to visit, but their parents were afraid to let their children go to Aliquippa.

      Slowly that is changing, and more parents are allowing their children to visit, he said.

      Continue reading Aliquippa Crime: Perception Isn’t Always Reality

      Hard-Pressed Rust Belt Cities Go Green to Aid Urban Revival

      A community farm in Detroit, which has been a leader in green urban renewal.

      Gary, Indiana is joining Detroit and other fading U.S. industrial centers in an effort to turn abandoned neighborhoods and factory sites into gardens, parks, and forests. In addition to the environmental benefits, these greening initiatives may help catalyze an economic recovery.

      By Winifred Bird

      Beaver County Blue via Environment 360 Yale.edu

      May 31, 2016 – Depending on how you look at it, Gary, Indiana is facing either the greatest crisis in its 110-year history, or the greatest opportunity. The once-prosperous center of steel production has lost more than half its residents in the past 50 years. Just blocks from city hall, streets are so full of crumbling, burned-out houses and lush weeds that they more closely resemble the nuclear ghost town of Pripyat, near Chernobyl, than Chicago’s glitzy downtown an hour to the northwest. Air, water, and soil pollution are severe.

      Yet in the midst of this, Gary has quantities of open space that more prosperous cities can only dream of, and sits on a stretch of lakeshore where plant biodiversity rivals Yellowstone National Park. Now, the big question for Gary, and for dozens of other shrinking cities across the United States’ Rust Belt — which collectively have lost more than a third of their population since the middle of the 20th century — is how to turn this situation to their advantage.

      The answer that is beginning to emerge in Gary and other cities of the Rust Belt — which stretches across the upper Northeast through to the Great Lakes and industrial Midwest — is urban greening on a large scale. The idea is to turn scrubby, trash-strewn vacant lots into vegetable gardens, tree farms, stormwater management parks, and pocket prairies that make neighborhoods both more livable and more sustainable.

      These types of initiatives have been evolving at the grassroots level for decades in places like Detroit and Buffalo; now, they are starting to attract significant funding from private investors, non-profits, and government agencies, says Eve Pytel, who is director of strategic priorities at the Delta Institute, a Chicago environmental organization active in Gary and several other Rust Belt cities. “There’s a tremendous interest because some of these things are lower cost than traditional development, but at the same time their implementation will actually make the other land more developable," she said.

      Or, as Joseph van Dyk, Gary’s director of planning and redevelopment, put it, “If you lived next to a vacant house and now all of a sudden you live next to a forest, you’re in better shape.”

      Van Dyk noted that city planning in the U.S. had long been predicated on growth. But, he added, “That’s been turned on its head since the Seventies — Detroit, Cleveland, Youngstown, Flint, Gary have this relatively new problem of, how do you adjust for disinvestment? How do you reallocate your resources and re-plan your cities?”

      Detroit, which has at least 20 square miles of abandoned land, has been a leader in envisioning alternative uses for sites that once would have been targeted for conventional redevelopment. The city has 1,400 or more urban farms and community gardens, a tree-planting plan so ambitious the local press says it “could serve as a model for postindustrial cities worldwide,” and $8.9 million from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development to implement green infrastructure projects and install solar panels on other vacant lots.

      But while demolition itself has added an estimated

      $209 million to the equity of remaining homes in Detroit, Danielle Lewinski, vice president and director of Michigan Initiatives for the Flint-based Center for Community Progress, said hard data on the value of greening projects is more difficult to come by.

      “There’s opportunity in Detroit to see an impact in surrounding property values, and therefore people’s interest in that area,” said Lewinski, who has been involved in land-use planning there. “The key, though, is that it needs to be done in a way that is strategic and links to other attributes that would attract a person to move into a neighborhood. My concern is that green reuse, absent a connection to a broader vision, may not be nearly as successful from an economic value standpoint.”

      In Gary, the broader vision is to concentrate economic development in a number of “nodes,” each of which would be surrounded by leafy corridors of “re-greened” land. The corridors would separate the nodes, helping to give each neighborhood a more distinct identity, as well as bring residents the benefits of open space and serve as pathways for wildlife moving between existing natural areas. A land-use

      plan for preserving Gary’s core green space is already in place, and officials are currently revising the city’s Byzantine zoning regulations to make redevelopment of the nodes easier. Continue reading Hard-Pressed Rust Belt Cities Go Green to Aid Urban Revival

      Monaca to Install 200 Solar Panels at its Reservoir

      By Jared Stonesifer

      Beaver County Times 

      MONACA — The borough plans on installing 198 solar panels at its reservoir that could produce more than $200,000 worth of electricity over their lifespan.

      Borough Manager Mario Leone said the project, which has been in the works for several years, could be up and running by April.

      The borough will install the solar panels on the ground and buildings at the reservoir, although it also plans on building a new garage-like structure that will house at least half of the panels.

      The panels will cost $150,000 to buy and install, half of which was paid for by a state grant.

      Leone said it won’t take long for the panels to make up the cost through savings realized by the efficiency of solar energy.

      “We’re looking between a 7 1/2 to nine-year payback on our $75,000 contribution,” he said. “The solar system over 20 years is expected to generate over $200,000 in electricity.”

      That number could be higher, Leone said, if the solar panels exceed their typical lifespan of 25 to 30 years.

      The solar panel project is just one of several that have led to Monaca being designated a gold-certified municipality in sustainability. The latest solar project means the borough could soon be certified as platinum, Leone said.

      “The borough is a leader in sustainability,” he said. “I believe with the installation of the solar panels and other things we’re working on, we will probably achieve that higher standard.”

      Another exciting aspect, Leone said, is that the amount of energy generated from the solar panels will be able to be viewed on the borough’s website.

      A public hearing will be held Jan. 26, when the project is expected to receive the green light from borough council.

      Leone said the panels will take about two weeks to be installed after being delivered.

      The panels will generate about 63,000 kilowatt hours annually.