Four years, five blocks, big change

Written by Diana Nelson Jones on .


Congratulations to the Save Race Street Committee, which tomorrow will celebrate four years of success in its mission to enforce civil behavior, clean up and beautify its slice of Homewood.

Rev. Terry D. Fluker took the lead in organizing his neighbors because of “some activities that were taking place around my house, guys selling drugs in front of my house,” he said.

“I thought after calling the police that there should be a group representing us, so I joined with Operation Better Block, and they assisted in planning and helped me put together a meeting at Baptist Temple Church. We had our first meeting there four years ago. I drew up a flier inviting everybody out. We had about 60 people who joined us.”

The Save Race Street Committee was established with block captains for each of the street’s five blocks.

People have pretty much stuck together, Terry said. “We meet monthly and we began to clean up the street, cut down weeds in front of abandoned houses, clean up sidewalks.”

Asked if the illicit activities have ebbed, he said, “Oh yeah, big change. We monitor each block, and if we see anything that looks unhealthy we talk to the parent or whoever lives there and tell them we don’t want those activities on Race Street. If it’s not addressed promptly, we call the authorities.”

He said the warning usually makes calling the police unnecessary.

Committee member Elwin Green, a former Post-Gazette business writer, publishes the blog Homewood Nation.  Regarding the committee’s progress, he writes:

“The group’s fourth year has been an especially busy one. In the winter and spring, the Committee worked with the city, the Western Pennsylvania Conservancy and Tree Pittsburgh to have some 20 new street trees planted on Race Street. (In photo above, taken by Elwin, Jerry Mormur of Lawn Sense, the firm contracted to prep the tree sites, is digging. His co-worker is Mike Monroe.) The Arbor Day weekend planting also drew volunteers from Carnegie Mellon University.

“In June, staffers from Growth Through Energy + Community Health (GTECH) joined residents to construct a raised flower bed on a City-owned vacant lot at 7427 Race.

“And in September, Committee members worked with volunteers from the Barack Obama Academy of International Studies and St. John the Evangelist Anglican Church in Oakmont to transform two vacant lots at Race and Collier Streets into a mini-park, complete with a walking path. The project was funded by a grant from Mayor Luke Ravenstahl’s Love Your Block program.

“The Committee members’ work drew the attention of the Young Preservationists Association, who in June named Race Street one of 2012’s 'Top 10 Best Preservation Opportunities in the Pittsburgh Area.'

"Besides celebrating all of those accomplishments, the Committee will use its Nov. 3 gathering to seek their neighbors’ approval of “Race Street 2020,” a long-range plan for developing the street. The plan is based on ideas from residents and others who attended a planning session last November.”

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