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Night Market VI will be Pittsburgh's largest yet

Come for the 40-foot-tall rubber duck, stay for a healthy dose of local food and art. The sixth edition of the Pittsburgh Downtown Partnership’s Night Market will coincide with the Rubber Duck Bridge Party, and will take place on Friday from 5:30 to 10 p.m. on the Roberto Clemente Bridge.

“It’s going to be more than twice the size of the previous Night Markets,” says PDP President and CEO Jeremy Waldrup. “We keep saying we’re out of space, and then someone says, ‘well, what about this?’ and we’re all, ‘oh, all right!’”

Night Market VI will have at least 70 vendors — more than double the 27 from its previous high. They’ll range from Pittsburgh-based artists and crafters to local jewelers, screen printers, furniture stores and, of course, restaurants. Among the food vendors, you’ll find Allegheny City Smokehouse, Meat & Potatoes, AJ’s Inca Peruvian Restaurant, BRGR, Lomito Truck, Crafwork Kitchen, the Big Y Restaurant Group and Zeke’s Coffee.
Among the many boutique vendors will be Pavement, Townhouse, Erra Creations, DeadBuryDead and Steel City Cotton Works.
You can find a full list of vendors on the PDP's event page.

“And you know it doesn’t get more scenic than with a 40-foot duck,” Waldrup says.

This sixth installation will put a cap on the Night Market series, which this year has coincided with Pittsburgh’s monthly gallery crawls. At the same time, Waldrup isn’t ruling out a sudden, cold-weather return.

“If something tremendous were to happen…If the Pirates go to the World Series, we could pop back up,” he says.

Writer: Matthew Wein
Source: Jeremy Waldrup

Yo Bro brings socially conscious fashions for little dudes to Lawrenceville

Marybeth Mahoney and Lori Sipes are moms on a mission. That mission: introduce a trendy line of boys’ fashions that helps raise money for charity.

“We wanted to design something affordable and cool,” Sipes says. “A lot of children’s clothing stores are 75 percent girls’ clothing and 25 percent boys’, but the boys’ designs tend to be kind of cheesy.”

Late last year, they launched Yo Bro Apparel. And what started as an exclusively internet business has taken root at 3818 Butler Street in Lawrenceville. Yo Bro launched its first brick-and-mortar operation as a pop-up store, which ran from January of last year to February of this year. It became a permanent fixture earlier this month.

“We decided that we wanted to do something where we could donate portions of profits to children’s charities. We wanted to do something that allowed us to give back,” Sipes says.

For the rest of this year and most of next year, Yo Bro will donate 10 percent of its profits to the Noah Angelici Hope Foundation. After that, it will contribute to a different children’s charity during the spring/summer and fall/winter seasons.
Yo Bro is also among a host of Pittsburgh businesses featured in the PBS documentary series “Start Up,” which will air in Pittsburgh later this year.

“We do all the designs ourselves, and it’s all imprintable apparel,” says Sipes, adding that they get their materials from American wholesalers and employ a local screen printer. “We’re kinda scrappy and trying to do everything ourselves.”

Writer: Matthew Wein
Source: Lori Sipes

Eat + Drink: The 61B Cafe, Smorgasburgh, an end-of-summer dinner

Eat + Drink is Pop City's weekly news roundup on the food scene.

61B Café opens in Regent Square
The long-awaited sister store of Squirrel Hill’s popular 61C Café opened in Regent Square last Wednesday. The 61B Café, which sits on the bus line of the same name, is located at 1108 South Braddock Avenue in the space which formerly held Katerbean, which closed last November.

The 61B Café’s opening, which was supposed to occur last spring, was delayed due to a prolonged remodeling process. The café is open seven days a week from 6 a.m. to 11 p.m.

Smorgasburgh: Pittsburgh's first food-exclusive flea market
A plethora of coffee shops, restaurants, markets and specialty grocers will take part in Smorgasburgh, a pop-up food market in the Strip District on September 21st.

Organized by Michael McAllister and Kit Mueller and based on the food-exclusive Brooklyn flea market (minus the "h"), Smorgasburgh will take place in the parking lot across from Marty’s Market at 2301 Smallman Street, and run from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.

“We do kind of see it as something that we can do every four to six weeks,” McAllister says, adding that he thinks there will be another one organized before Thanksgiving.

Participants include: The Crested Duck, Meat & Potatoes, Marty’s Market, Olive & Marlowe, Klayvon’s Ice Cream, Wild Purveyors, Bluebird Kitchen, The Pop Stop, Bedillion Honey Farm, Good L’Oven Bakery, Tamari, The Livermore, Pastitsio, Drew’s Pie Supply, Franktuary, Fukuda, Espresso a Mano and Zeke’s Coffee. The event is BYOB, but PortaKeg will be on-hand with beer from Full Pint.

Low Country Boil at Bayardstown tonight!
Urbanist Guide is teaming up Chef Kate Romane of Highland Park’s e2 for an old-fashioned Lowcountry shrimp boil tonight at Bayardstown Social Club in the Strip District. The traditional southern summer sendoff will include shrimp, corn, potatoes, sausage and Old Bay, along with salad, tomatoes, green beans, bread and a house-made hot sauce. The event is BYOB. Tickets are $25 and can be purchased through Showclix.

Oktoberfest at Penn Brewery
The Penn Brewery, located in Troy Hill, will host its annual Oktoberfest celebration both this and next weekend. 

It will run from 5 p.m. to midnight on Fridays and Saturdays, and from 4 p.m. to 10 p.m. on Sundays. 

For a complete schedule of events, visit the brewery's website.

Writer: Matthew Wein
Source: Michael McAllister

Developer finalizing plans for luxury rentals on Mt. Washington

The long-discussed plans for One Grandview, a new development on the Mt. Washington site which once held the Edge restaurant and has been vacant for more than 30 years, are moving forward.

Developer Beau Beemsterboer says that the 4-acre space at Grandview Avenue and Wyoming Street will include about 300 multi-family luxury rental units, a restaurant space, a parking garage and some kind of publicly accessible space.

“We’ve got a design direction, we’ve got a program, we’ve got a look and a feel to it,” he says, adding that a majority of the units will be one- and two-bedroom apartments, but that there will be a small number of three-bedroom and studio units in the 400,000 square-foot space. “There’s going to be a public component to it — a way for people who come here to engage with the space. I want to have a feature which allows the community and the city and the tourists to come interact and be a part of the whole thing.”

Beemsterboer says he’s not yet sure what such a public feature might include, but that the view from Mt. Washington would be prominently featured, and added that the site's design will be "iconic."

“We’re trying to push the envelope with the design,” he says.

Terry Oden of Desmone & Associates Architects, which is designing One Grandview, says that the development will be a multi-building complex.

Construction on One Grandview could begin as soon as spring of 2014. Beemsterboer would not comment on the hiring of a contractor to build the space.

Writer: Matthew Wein
Sources: Beau Beemsterboer, Terry Oden

Downtown's Market Square is getting a market

After months of talks and speculation, developer Ralph Falbo and three other partners signed a lease for the Thompson Building at 435 Market Street and will open a grocery store in the space.

Falbo is partnering with Ernie and Julian Vallozzi, of Vallozzi’s, and David Priselac, Jr. to run the project, which will see construction begin as soon as later this month when the Pittsburgh History & Landmarks Foundation finishes restoring the building’s exterior.

The market will offer fresh produce, a butcher, a seafood section and a wide array of prepared foods prepared in an on-site kitchen which will be available for takeout.

“It will be food-specific with a little bit of a lean toward Italian products,” says Julian Vallozzi who is hesitant to call it a grocery store for fear people will compare it to a supermarket. “We will have some specialty grocery items — niche products that you won’t see other places," he explains.

In addition to offering a selection of bottled wines, the store will contain a separate area with a full bar operating on the liquor license retained from restaurant which previously occupied the building. Falbo and Vallozzi say they see the area operating mainly as a wine bar, offering a diverse selection of bottles and small plates from the kitchen.

“I want to get into a good wine selection,” says Falbo, adding that he’d like to use the space to hold wine-tasting events.
Falbo anticipates that once a layout is complete and approved, construction should take about four months.

Writer: Matthew Wein
Sources: Ralph Falbo, Julian Vallozzi

Two cool art shops in East Liberty

Local art blogger will curate boutique's fist anniversary
Two years ago while running a high-end art gallery in Boston, Norah Guignon started an art blog called curate 1k. Her mission was simple: every week, find a collection of artwork being sold online for $1,000 or less.

“I think the idea of an affordable piece of art really appeals to people,” Guignon says. “I’m showing an affordable range of artwork online and helping new collectors to get started.”

Later this month, the blog will jump off the net and into the space at The Shop in East Liberty, located at 214 North Highland, to help celebrate the boutique’s first anniversary.

Guignon has selected a series of paintings by Athens, Ga.-based artist Britt Bass, which will be available at the shop beginning September 28th, and running through the winter holidays.

“She does abstract paintings with really bold, beautiful colors,” Guignon says of Bass.

The collection will also feature limited-edition prints exclusive to the event.

“I really like things that are well-designed, but I’m not at a point in my life where dropping several thousand dollars on a chair is really an option,” says Michael McAllister.

He’s not alone. That’s why McAllister’s Epic Development partnered with The Shop in East Liberty, Weisshouse and The Beauty Shoppe to create Townhouse —a pop-up furniture and housewares store which offers locals access to stylish items at an affordable price point.

“It’s a mix of these larger production brands and things which are locally made,” McAllister says.

It has both regular hours and a calendar of special events, the next of which starts tomorrow when it hosts local t-shirt brand deadburydead for a custom trunk sale which will run through September 21st.

Located at 6016 Penn Avenue, Townhouse will be open through the end of the year.

Writer: Matthew Wein
Sources: Norah Guignon, Michael McAllister

PARK(ing) Day asks us to rethink our use of urban spaces

This Friday, September 20th, participants will be taking to the streets, or parking lots rather, in celebration of the 6th annual PARK(ing) Day Pittsburgh. The event, which promotes reconsidering the way we use our urban spaces, will find short-term parks and installations where gray parking spaces normally stand in many Pittsburgh neighborhoods.
San Francisco-based group Rebar launched the now worldwide PARK(ing) Day event in 2005 after deciding to turn an urban parking spot into a community green space for the two hours on their meter.
There are currently 18 participants registered for Pittsburgh’s chapter of the event, from a space to be designed by Lawrenceville United to one by the Carnegie Library on the South Side.
“I am really excited to see what Row House Cinema in Lawrenceville does. They are doing a pop-up, drive-in movie theatre, which should be really neat,” says Sara Innamorato, one of the volunteers for PARK(ing) Day Pittsburgh.
PARK(ing) is easy and fun, especially when the main goal is to make a space better-suited for the urban community. To park, simply find and register a spot, be aware of the parking limitations, design the space and appreciate the urban mini-park.
An interactive map on the PARK(ing) Day Pittsburgh website shows the exact locations and times of each registered PARK(ing) space in the city, as well as maps of the temporary parks from previous years.
Innamorato says that the annual event hopes to inspire more eco-friendly and community-oriented infrastructure.

“They should be just as important in urban planning just as traffic flow and parking plans for motor vehicles,” she notes. “It's about quality of life for people living in urban areas.”
Be sure to stop by one of the many PARK(ing) spaces in Pittsburgh this Friday.
Writer: Maeve McAllister, Pop City intern
Source: Sara Innamorato, volunteer PARK(ing) Day Pittsburgh

Eat + Drink: Peet's Coffee in Pittsburgh, Cocktail Week, America's largest native fruit

Eat + Drink is Pop City's weekly glance at the finest in local epic nomz.

Peet’s Coffee coming to Pittsburgh
Peet’s Coffee & Tea, the San Francisco Bay area-based coffee roaster and retailer whose coffee has a near-religious following on the west coast, is set to open its first Pittsburgh stores.

Peet’s will take over the locations of the former Caribou Coffee shops in Oakland, the South Side, Brentwood and the Waterworks Mall, near Aspinwall.

According to Gary Wilson, a principal with the development firm of Langholz Wilson Ellis, which owns the site of the recently closed Caribou Coffee in Oakland, the developers are in the process of approving plans now. Wilson did not give a timetable for the Oakland location’s opening.

Peet’s products aren’t entirely new to the region. Giant Eagle has carried various Peet’s blends for several years.

Eat + Drink heartily recommends giving the House Blend a shot. Fans of darker roasts are likely to enjoy the full-bodied Major Dickason’s Blend.

Pittsburgh Cocktail Week
A cadre of bars and restaurants will participate in the first annual Pittsburgh Cocktail Week, which will run from September 16th through the 22nd.

Cocktail Week will include everything from tequila classes at Verde to ice-carving sessions at The Livermore, will run from September 16th through the 22nd.

A list of Cocktail Week events, still being updated, is available on the event’s website.

Paw paw tasting
The paw paw is often described as a cross between a banana and a mango. It’s the largest edible fruit native to the United States, yet most people have never even heard of it. Andy Moore is looking to change that.

“It’s native to 25 or 26 states in the eastern United States, and it’s virtually unheard of,” Moore says. “How does something that’s this ubiquitous get overlooked?”

Moore, a former Pop City staffer, is looking to answer that question and others, as he travels around the country to research the history of the paw paw for a book he’s working on. To help raise money to finance his research and travels, Moore will host a paw paw tasting event Thursday, September 19th at 7:30 p.m. at Buena Vista Coffee on the North Side.

Attendees will learn about the paw paw, and have the opportunity to sample a variety of paw paw-inclusive foods, including ice cream, cupcakes, and the raw flesh of the fruit itself.

Those attending will also receive paw paw seeds from which to grown their own paw paw trees, and Moore plans to raffle off a pair of paw paw trees to one lucky participant.

Tickets for the event are $40 and may be reserved by calling 407-967-3519, or e-mailing Moore.

You can follow his paw paw adventures on Twitter @thepawpawbook.

Writer: Matthew Wein
Sources: Gary Wilson, Andrew Moore

Meet Hop Farm, Lawrenceville's newest craft brewery

Lawrenceville will get its second craft brewery of the summer within the next two weeks when Hop Farm Brewing Company opens the doors to its 4,700 square-foot space at 5601 Butler Street.

“This is the first time I’ve done this,” says Hop Farm founder Matt Gouwens. “It’s a big undertaking.”

Gouwens, who worked as a web and graphic designer before deciding to start a brewery, has been operating as a home brewer for the last five years, growing different varieties of hops in his yard.

When he decided to go commercial, he knew he couldn’t grow all of his own hops, and wanted to add a local spin to his product.

“I thought, ‘why not get a farmer involved in this?’” says Gouwens.

Hop Farm’s hops will come from an actual hop farm that’s currently being set up in Cranberry Township.
When he opens for business later this month, Gouwens says he’ll have a selection of three beers — a saison, a nut brown and naturally, an IPA.

“Our plan after that is getting into a Russian Imperial Stout and aging it in some bourbon barrels,” says Gouwens.

Hop Farm’s beers will initially be available only in growlers, but Gouwens says he will begin canning them once the government approves his label.

Writer: Matthew Wein
Source: Matt Gouwens

New single-screen movie theater will cater to Pittsburgh's film buffs

Brian Mendelssohn has always dreamed of opening an old-timey movie theater. When he came across the space at 4115 Butler Street in Lawrenceville, he knew he’d found his location.

“When this building came along, it felt so right,” says Mendelssohn, a principal with Lawrenceville’s Botero Development. “It’s a single-screen neighborhood movie theater, as if we were opening this up in the 1920s. It’s going to have an intimate feel with modern amenities. We’re trying to imagine what it would look like if Bette Davis designed it.”

Construction is about 65 percent complete on Row House Cinema, a single-screen theater for all breeds of film buffs, which is slated to open in December.

In addition to modern amenities such as stadium seating, a state-of-the-art sound system, completely digital projection and gourmet concessions, the theater will have something entirely new to Pittsburgh.

The adjoining building will house sister business Atlas Bottle Works, which Mendelssohn aims to make “the best beer store in Western Pennsylvania.”

Moviegoers will have the option of buying draft beer at the theater’s concession stand or choosing from the expansive selection next door. Atlas Bottle Works will start out carrying 500 varieties of beer — no macrobrews — and the selection will expand from there.

As for the theater, don’t go to Row House expecting any first-run movies.

“We’re trying to do a new business model we’re calling marathon programming,” Mendelssohn says. Screenings at Row House will revolve around genres, themes and directors. Showings, he says, will occur in back-to-back marathon format (like a single-day “Lord of the Rings” marathon), or over the course of several days, and will touch on everything from sci-fi, horror and zombie films to popular directors, such as the Coen Brothers and Alfred Hitchcock.

The theater, which will seat about 90 people, will also host Q&A and discussion sessions with people from all reaches of the movie industry.

Row House Cinema is currently staging an indiegogo campaign to help cover the costs of installing its picture and sound systems, and rewards for donors, which include choosing movies to be screened, show that local movie fans’ voices will be heard when it comes to programming.

“The community will have a strong influence about who we are and what we’re doing,” Mendelssohn added. “If we had a tagline,” Mendelssohn says, “it would be, ‘Like Netflix, only curated.’”

You can follow Row House Cinema’s progress on Facebook and Twitter.

Writer: Matthew Wein
Source: Brian Mendelssohn

Mt. Washington's Saddle Trail will hold grand opening Sunday

The Saddle Trail Head, a small but beautiful segment of the Mount Washington Community Development Corporation’s grand plan to develop the 257-acre Emerald View Park, is complete, and the MWCDC will hold a grand opening on Sunday.

The trail head, which starts halfway down the perilously steep and windy Sycamore Street, will have limited parking on the right side of the road, and, crossing William Street, will connect to trails which lead into Grandview Park.

“In the fall, there are going to be beautiful views of Downtown and the rivers from further east along the ridge,” says Ilyssa Manspeizer, the MWCDC’s director of park development and conservation, who is overseeing the redevelopment of Mt. Washington’s trail system with the help of the Emerald Trail Corps. “The whole thing is less than a mile, but it’s a hike.”

Sunday’s festivities will start at 2:45 p.m. in Grandview Park, located at 499 Bailey Avenue. From there, hikers will be shuttled over to the trail head on Sycamore Street for a guided tour, which will lead back to Grandview Park.

Timbeleza, a Brazilian drum troupe, will play along the guided hike, and refreshments will be available at 4 p.m. in Grandview Park when the hike ends.

The trails in the Mt. Washington Park section of the Emerald View Park, which the MWCDC and Trail Corps previewed to the media and local leaders two weeks ago, will wrap around the mountain from the heart of Mt. Washington to Grandview Park in Allentown.

Manspeizer says that volunteers have removed nearly 100,000 pounds of garbage from these trails over the last six years, and that they’ll be ready for their own grand opening at some point in October.

In the meantime, all of the trails remain open to the public.

Writer: Matthew Wein
Source: Ilyssa Manspeizer

Eat + Drink: Spirits in the Strip and a Party at the Pier

Eat + Drink is...well, this week, it's just about drinks.

Wigle Whiskey will introduce organic bitters

After just a year of hand-crafting small-batch spirits, Wigle Whiskey will launch its first line of bitters next month with a September 13th release party at their distillery in the Strip District.

Chris Kuhn of Social at Bakery Square and Wes Shonk of Meat & Potatoes outgrowth Butcher and The Rye have each created specialty cocktails designed to showcase Wigle’s first two varieties of bitters, Aromatic and Rosemary Lavender. Both will be available at the party, along with small plates and a very particular kind of art exhibit.

“The Allegheny Highlands Botanical Art Society has illustrated all of the botanicals that we used in the bitters,” says Wigle co-owner Meredith Grelli. The society’s works will be on display, as will some of the actual plants Wigle used to craft the bitters, thanks to the Phipps Conservancy.

Grelli says that because the federal government treats bitters as a category apart from other alcohol products, an entirely different set of “nice, easy standards” applies. While bitters typically include certain chemicals, such as dyes or acids, Wigle’s bitters are entirely organic.

“Since we’re using whole, real botanicals, it’s been a six-month process of their lab doing tests to certify that people wouldn’t be able to drink it on its own,” Grelli says.

Wigle plans to release two new varieties of bitters in the Spring of 2014.

Maggie’s Farm Rum distillery coming to the Strip District
Between whiskey makers, wineries and breweries large and small, what more could Pittsburgh possibly want from its alcohol culture?

“There’s nobody making rum or brandy here right now,” says Tim Russell. “I don’t think there are any good American-made rums available to people in Pennsylvania. The state stores have the Caribbean products, and that’s about it.”

Russell is aiming to change that. His company, Allegheny Distilling, LLC, is set to begin making Maggie’s Farm Rum within the next month in his distillery at 3212A Smallman Street.

“Right now, the equipment is in place. I need to get a small ventilation system for my still,” says Russell, who’s already been approved for state and federal permits. “Other than that, we should be able to start production in a couple of weeks.”

Russell says production at Maggie’s Farm will start with white rum, but that he hopes to also produce a few varieties of brandy. He also says that within the next few months, he hopes to add a cocktail bar and a tasting room to the distillery.

Riverlife's Party at the Pier
Looking for something fun to do next Friday? Riverlife is hosting its annual Party at the Pier at the North Shore Riverfront Ampitheater.

The evening of dining, drinking and dancing features fresh local food, signature cocktails and music from DJ Espy. There will be 20-minute boat rides aboard the Gateway Clipper at 7:30 and 9:30 p.m., as well as firedancing performances. 

If you're looking to get to one more great party on the water before summer's over, we heartily suggest checking this out.

Writer: Matthew Wein
Sources: Meredith Grelli, Tim Russell

Concert and community picnic add a neighborhood feel to McKees Rocks 5k race

McKees Rocks is always looking to improve its annual Run Your Rox Off 5K.

“The 5K is our signature event,” says Taris Vrcek, executive director of the McKees Rocks Community Development Corporation. “Most of our runners come from outside the community, so we’ve had a nice reach in attracting people from all over the region. Each year we try to have something new and different.”

This year’s incarnation will take place Friday evening at the Miles Bryan School at 1125 Wayne Avenue in McKees Rocks, and include a community picnic and a concert in the large green space next to the school.

“It’s all outdoors, which is great because you have these beautiful, immense trees and this fantastic view,” Vrcek says. “It’s a really special setting for an event like this — just a really neat place.”

The race, which winds its way through several McKees Rocks-area residential neighborhoods, is unlike any other in the area.

“This is a challenging course because of some of the hills we have here,” Vrcek says. “A lot of the folks who live in the area will come out and cheer on the runners, and that’s not something you get with a lot of 5Ks.”

In keeping with the neighborhood’s theme, top finishers receive rocks emblazoned with plaques in lieu of medals.

The picnic, which will begin at 6 p.m., will feature food from local restaurants -- including Pierogies Plus, Mancini's Bakery, Silverstar Meats, 5 Generation Bakers and Mama Lena Pizza -- music and family-oriented entertainment.

The concert will begin at 6:30 p.m. with a set by hip-hop artist and McKees Rocks native Terence Austin. Country artist Dawn Savage will perform at 7 p.m., and following the race awards ceremony, local jazz outfit George Heid III Trio will perform from 8 to 10 p.m.

Runners may register for the race on the event’s website or in-person prior to the event on Friday.

Writer: Matthew Wein
Source: Tavis Vrcek

Juice Up 412 expands its mission to democratize healthy food

“How do you make it something that someone would want to drink if they weren’t already interested in health?”

That’s what Majestic Lane and his partners at Juice Up 412 —self-described “juice evangelists” — ask themselves nearly every day.

“Our goal is to get folks to be more conscious about what they’re eating,” Lane says. “We’re interested in bringing juices to populations where health and wellness are not seen as priorities.”

So far, that ambition has taken Juice Up 412 from a stand in the Strip District into a series of partnerships with community organizations and non-profits. They were awarded an Awesome Pittsburgh grant last year, and have since partnered with Bar Marco’s new East Liberty venture, The Livermore, to establish a permanent presence.

Just as Bar Marco is democratizing food, Lane says, he and his partners are looking to do the same for health and wellness.

“We’re looking to get into different neighborhoods,” says Lane, who likes the idea of having pop-up juice bars in underserved communities, not only to expose underserved populations to healthy options which taste good, but to get kids interested in taking their health seriously. “We want to be on the cutting edge of social innovation and enterprise, especially in communities that don’t have things like that happen.”

On September 14th and 15th, Juice Up 412 will take its operation to the Thelma Lovette YMCA in the Hill District, where they’ll serve up fresh juice as a part of State Representative Jake Wheatley’s Health and Wellness Weekend.

To learn more about Juice Up 412, follow them on Facebook and Twitter.

Writer: Matthew Wein
Source: Majestic Lane

New storm water garden will help reduce runoff, beautify Larimer

It rids a community of a blighted brownfield. It redistributes rainwater to help prevent flooding. And to boot, it’s a squarely beautiful sight.

Sunday afternoon saw local leaders cut the ribbon on a storm water management garden — a new addition to the Environment and Energy Community Outreach Center, at the corner of East Liberty Boulevard and Larimer Avenue in the Larimer section of Pittsburgh.

“I wanted to have a show-and-tell place — somewhere where people could see these materials,” says state Sen. Jim Ferlo, D-Highland Park. “You’ll see storyboards explaining why the storm water garden is important.”

The Penn State Center’s Lisa Vavro designed the park, and the Pittsburgh department of public works handled the construction. The park’s opening coincided with the second annual Larimer Green Street Fair.

The EECO Center, which opened last June on property which previously held an abandoned gas station, offers the community classes, workshops and services designed to help low-income residents in the East End not only be more energy efficient, but save money in the process.

“One of our goals is to build a greener, smarter and sustainable future, and this is a place that people can come and learn about these issues,” Ferlo says.

Storm water runoff is one of the bigger environmental problems facing Pittsburgh, as evidenced by the tragic flash flooding deaths which occurred on Washington Boulevard last year — flooding to which runoff from Larimer contributed.

“Building one garden is not going to mitigate that issue, but as we keep building with public dollars, we need to build smarter,” Ferlo says. “I want this to be a launching pad.”

Writer: Matthew Wein
Source: Sen. Jim Ferlo
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