© 2023 90.5 WESA
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
Available On Air Stations

Newly renovated rec center with emphasis on tech training opens in the Hill District

ammons ribbon cutting.jpg
Ariel Worthy
90.5 WESA
City leaders cut the ribbon at a newly renovated Ammons Rec Center in the Hill District.

Pittsburgh leaders opened a new and improved community recreation center in the city's Hill District Monday, part of a "rec-to-tech" program in which the centers offer students access to Wi-Fi and other technology.

The newly renovated Ammon Rec Center reopened at a ribbon cutting that marked the building's first upgrade in decades, according to Pittsburgh City Councilor Daniel Lavelle, who represents the neighborhood.

"It really hadn't been updated for a very, very long time, saying it nicely," he said. "And the reality was it probably wasn't going to be updated for a very long time if it wasn't for partnerships."

Dan Gilman, Mayor Bill Peduto's chief of staff, said the city has not invested in its rec centers in decades. But COVID aid funding from the American Rescue Plan will enable the city to upgrade rec centers and offer new training opportunities as well.

"Kids in our city are no longer going to be given a basketball and a cup of juice and told that they can hang out and be safe, which is important," Gilman said. "They can have those opportunities plus career skills, plus life skills, plus workforce development."

The Ammon Center renovations included updated walls, carpeting and windows. Once a drafty, open space, the center now has classrooms, wireless technology and a tech learning lab where students can learn coding, artificial intelligence and computer science.

Sean Gibson is executive director of the Josh Gibson Foundation, which often uses the space for a tutoring program for elementary and middle school students.

"We've been trying to get this space done for two years," Gibson said. "The kids seem excited to come in and learn in a fresh new space."

Renovations for the space cost $120,000, and the project received assistance from the Pittsburgh Penguins and First National Bank, which are developing a portion of the Lower Hill.

Gilman said the city will look at renovating rec centers in Troy Hill and the North Side.

Born and raised in Birmingham, Ala., Ariel finally made a “big move” 45 minutes down the interstate to the University of Alabama where she studied Journalism and International Studies. During her time in college she interned with Tuscaloosa News, a daily newspaper in her college town. After college, she got her first job back in her hometown with Birmingham Times, a weekly where she served as reporter and editor. Ariel made an even bigger move to Pittsburgh and joined the 90.5 WESA family as digital producer. She is adjusting to experiencing actual cold weather.
To make informed decisions, the public must receive unbiased truth.

As Southwestern Pennsylvania’s only independent public radio news and information station, we give voice to provocative ideas that foster a vibrant, informed, diverse and caring community.

WESA is primarily funded by listener contributions. Your financial support comes with no strings attached. It is free from commercial or political influence…that’s what makes WESA a free vital community resource. Your support funds important local journalism by WESA and NPR national reporters.

You give what you can, and you get news you can trust.
Please give now to continue providing fact-based journalism — a monthly gift of just $5 or $10 makes a big difference.