Northside GTECH ambassadors look to transform vacant lots


Photo by Justin Criado

Angela Williams of Perry Hilltop speaks during the GTECH ReClaim Northside project kick-off Wednesday, April 22 at the Pittsburgh Project.

By Justin Criado

GTECH Strategies held its ReClaim Northside project kick-off Wednesday, April 22 at the Pittsburgh Project in Perry Hilltop.

Almost a year after entering the vacant-lot-saving program, 14 community ambassadors from eight different Northside neighborhoods shared the progress of each of their respective projects.

“We work with communities across Allegheny County to address land-use issues like vacant land because we view them as platforms for change, growth, engagement, learning, creativity and innovation,” Evaine K. Sing, GTECH director of operations & programming, said. “All of the projects tonight are examples of all those things.

“They’ve been working with us since last October so they’ve been working very diligently on their projects and we’re excited to see the fruits of their labor.”

Doug Deckert is working on an area at 3712 Baytree St. in Observatory Hill where three houses once stood, but was a vacant lot with little trace of rehabilitation before he entered the program.

“Our projects are about reclaiming vacant lots and then reintegrating that back in to our community,” Deckert said. “I want this to be a place where I want my son and I to live.”

Each ambassador received a $3,000 grant for their project and completed classes on the legal and logistical steps there are for such development projects.

“For the last several months these ambassadors have gone through 10 classes that have taught them about reclaiming vacant land,” project coordinator Lydia Yoder said.

With summer approaching, the ambassadors are getting down to the dirty work, clearing spaces and transforming their spaces.

Angela Williams of Perry Hilltop is installing a mediation and garden space on Snyder Street in memory of her sister who passed away last November. Williams said the area has been neglected for the 30 years she’s lived on the street.

“My sister and I always said this is a place of tranquility and a place of peace,” Williams said. “I want to clean-up this street. I want to clean-up this area.”

For more information about the ReClaim program and the current Northside ambassadors visit the official website.

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