Photo courtesy of GTECH

By Alyse Horn

With thousands of residents submitting input and 11 student researchers walking down every street in the Northside, almost all of the 18 neighborhoods have a trail system and map that documents community assets.

The project, Northside Neighborhoods Connections, is a collaboration between One Northside and GTECH. Each neighborhood has an individual map and trail that connects to the surrounding neighborhoods, and the trail map guides feature a number of cultural, historic, and environmental destinations that were curated by members of each community. The designated trails run along already existing streets and pathways that can be traveled by bicycle or foot, and range from 1.5 to 3.5 miles in length.

Sarah Koenig, GTECH project manager, said the project has spanned over two years. Research included countless hours of attending community meetings, holding pop-up events, creating rough drafts, and hiring “four longtime Northside residents to guide us through the process,” Koenig said.
Currently there have been no infrastructure changes or signage to mark the trails, but Koenig said that is the hope for the future.

“This is just the beginning.”

There are other trail systems around the city like Northside Neighborhood Connections, but Koenig said none are as long as this particular project. GTECH studied the African American Heritage Trail in Washington D.C. and the Indianapolis Cultural Trail to understand the economic impact these trails had on communities and also how they were funded, how long they took to complete, etc.

“Trail systems are one way to help meet multiple goals,” Koenig said.

These trails can highlight business districts, cultural destinations, and landmarks, and “are a free tool that anyone can use,” Koenig said.

Koenig said the project is currently looking for additional state and national funding to get way-finding signage. Members of GTECH will also be attending community meetings in January and February to show each neighborhood the project results. Currently, Northview Heights and California-Kirkbride do not have trail maps because they are lacking community input. Koenig said residents from those communities should feel free to contact GTECH to help finish their neighborhood maps.

Northside Neighborhood Trail maps can be picked up at either of the Northside’s two libraries, Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh – Woods Run Branch and the Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh – Allegheny Branch, as well as the One Northside Office in Alloy 26. Maps are also available online at www. gtechstrategies.org/projects/trail.

The Northside Neighborhood Connections project is made possible through funding provided by The Buhl Foundation.

To contact Koenig, email s.koenig@gtechstrategies.org.

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