Outgoing politicians shower grants on community groups

Northside Counts! 2020 Census

Several Northside neighborhoods received grants in December from exiting politicians.

City council passed District 6 Councilwoman Tonya Payne’s resolution to give two Northside communities funds to purchase anti-crime surveillance equipment and a $10,000 grant to the Central Northside Neighborhood Council. State Rep. Don Walko, D-District 20, who will be sworn in as a Common Pleas Court judge on Jan. 3, sent a $10,000 grant from the Department of Community and Economic Development to the Northside Leadership Conference.

Both the Perry Hilltop Citizens Council and the Fineview Citizens Council will receive $5,500 apiece for surveillance cameras, which will be used at high crime intersections in each community.

The funds match the amounts that District 1 Councilwoman Darlene Harris allocated to each group in October. The councilwomen’s districts share sections of Fineview and Perry Hilltop.

Both neighborhoods have taken issue with neighborhood crime in the past. Fineview Citizens Council recently began staging neighborhood anti-crime walks to send a message to drug dealers in the neighborhood.

Fineview Citizens Council’s President Walt Spak said his organization hasn’t made a formal decision on placement for the surveillance equipment. But he did have a hunch.

“It’s my suspicion that everyone will agree that the cameras should go at [the intersection of] Belleau Street and Belleau Drive,” Spak said.

The intersection is near the the entrance to the Allegheny Dwellings housing project. Though there has only been a limited amount of violence near this intersection and in the neighborhood at large, Spak said, his group wants to keep crime to a minimum so that potential homebuyers aren’t scared off.

The FCC partnered with the Northside Leadership Conference to build several new homes along Meadville Street in Fineview, and three of the houses are still on the market.

The Perry Hilltop Citizens Council said in October that they will place their surveillance equipment on the corner of Charles Street and Perrysville Avenue.

Council also approved Payne’s earmark for $10,000 to the Central Northside Neighborhood Council. Kirk Burkley, chair of CNNC’s development committee, said the grant will go toward general operating costs, as well as community planning and development.

“There’s obviously a lot of development that’s going on in the Central Northside. We hope folks can see that, and we’re thankful to Tonya Payne for the continued support,” Burkley said.

Walko’s grant to the Northside Leadership Conference will further real estate operations.

“These funds will provide crucial operating support to NSLC as they work to prepare a long term housing and marketing plan for the Historic Deutschtown neighborhood,” said NSLC Project Manager Greg Jones in an e-mail.

Jones said the real estate department was focused on “high-impact properties,” such as commercial lots, that would improve the neighborhood’s chance for further housing investment.

Payne will vacate her District 6 seat in early January after losing the Democratic primary and the general election to her successor, Daniel Lavelle. Payne is currently campaigning for the 19th District seat in the state legislature against incumbent Rep. Jake Wheatley. The 19th District covers much of the same real estate as her current city council district.

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