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Identity & Community
Building Innovation is a collection of stories by 90.5 fm WESA reporters about the Pittsburgh region focusing on efficient government operation, infrastructure and transportation, innovative practices, energy and environment and neighborhoods and community.

City Bears Down On Beltzhoover Blight

At last count, Joe Divack noted 15 abandoned garages and more than 30 trashed, vacant lots in Beltzhoover, most so overgrown he said he’d need a machete just to uncover it all.

Overhauling those sites will be the next year-long focus for the Clean Pittsburgh Commission’s new effort to reclaim blighted Pittsburgh neighborhoods.

The commission is just finishing off a similar effort in Hazelwood where crews focused on the green spaces in the neighborhood flanked to the south by the Monongahela River.

Divack, assistant executive director of Allegheny CleanWays and vice chair of the Clean Pittsburgh Commission, said Beltzhoover is a good “second focus” community.

“It’s a neighborhood that seems to have not a lot of money … where there are many, many deteriorated dwellings … (and) terribly overgrown vacant lots that have been let go wild,” Divack said.

Beltzhoover residents, the Beltzhoover Civic Association, the Beltzhoover Neighborhood Council, Pittsburgh Works and Voices Against Violence will work on a single abandoned garage Saturday morning and launch a general community cleanup effort.

Crews will move onto to other abandoned lots and garages throughout the year.

“What we are doing is giving the community a fresh start,” Divack said, “and really working hard to set up systems of monitoring (and) stewarding in which community members will keep their eye on hot-spot dumping locations.”