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County asset board approves record-high budget, one third slated for parks

Gene J. Puskar
The Allegheny Regional Asset District is distributing a record amount of funding to local organizations in its 2023 budget, including the Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh, who's Oakland Branch is pictured here.

On today’s episode of The Confluence: 

Allegheny County’s asset board has approved a record high budget
(0:00 - 11:21)

The board for the Allegheny Regional Asset District (RAD), which distributes grants to parks, arts, cultural institutions and more, has approved its largest budget to date at $126.5 million.

Of that funding, $39.5 million will go to parks and trails, and $39 million will support libraries.

RAD is also allocating $1 million in grants for connection accessibility and inclusion, doubling the amount distributed for this type of grant in 2022.

“It used to be that connection accessibility, etc. was ramps, you know, for wheelchairs,” says Daniel Griffin, vice-chair of RAD’s board and a board member since 1998. “Now it's lighting, it's shows that aren't flash oriented, it's hearing impaired shows, it's tactile things for blind patrons, and we've really expanded that idea.”

Griffin says the board is planning to be conservative in its future budgets in case sales tax revenue does not hold. The current RAD budget projects that in 2023 there could be a 2.44% decrease in sales tax revenue.

Where and how to get in the holiday spirit this season, from light shows to botanical gardens
(11:28 - 22:30)

The holiday season is in full swing with events and celebrations across southwestern Pennsylvania.

Bobby Cherry has documented many of the region’s best holiday experiences on his blog, It’s Christmas 365, and says many of the festivities dampened by the pandemic have returned.

“My absolute favorite thing to do is grab a cup of hot chocolate and find a Pittsburgh suburb and just drive through a neighborhood listening to Christmas music and looking at the lights,” says Cherry.

In Pittsburgh, those looking to participate in holiday festivities can make their way to Oakland for Glowland events or the Winter Flower Show and Light Garden at the Phipps Conservatory and Botanical Gardens.

He says one Whitehall home in particular rivals the display on the Griswold family home in “National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation,” with 40,000 programmed holiday decorations, but a particular favorite to experience is Maplewood Avenue in Ambridge, Beaver County.

90.5 WESA’s parent organization, Pittsburgh Community Broadcasting, is among the organizations that receive RAD funding.  

The Confluence, where the news comes together, is 90.5 WESA’s daily news program. Tune in Monday to Thursday at 9 a.m. and 7:30 p.m. to hear newsmakers and innovators take an in-depth look at stories important to the Pittsburgh region. Find more episodes of The Confluence here or wherever you get your podcasts.

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