It used to be that anything you ever needed could be bought on Brookline Boulevard, Aggie Ignasky said. She said it’s exciting to see some of that coming back.
“I usually take walks, and you see a lot more younger people around lately,” she said. “Families. This is still a place where neighbors watch out for each other.”
Ignasky, who has lived in Brookline for 47 years, was one of about 50 residents to attend a meeting last week to discuss the things they love—and the things they want to change—about Brookline.
The meeting was one of three organized by South Pittsburgh Development Corporation, in conjunction with EvolveEA, for residents and local business owners to generate ideas for the future identity and vision of Brookline Boulevard.
During the first meeting, Brookliners talked about what they value in their community, and how they’d like the rest of Pittsburgh to view it.
The July meeting focused on what community members want and need, based on comments and suggestions left on OurBrookline.com. The website is a joint effort between South Pittsburgh Development Corporation and EvolveEA to give Brookliners a place to talk publicly about the future and identity of the community.
Christine Mondor of EvolveEA said more than 400 people viewed the website since its launch in early July, and more than 100 people actively participated in the conversation.
She presented a report of statistics about the community, detailing residents' age ranges, income levels, real estate costs and more, as well as information gathered at the first meeting.
Mondor said the first meeting showed that Brookliners and local business owners value four main things about their neighborhood: community and culture; events and activities; services and businesses; and the walkability and accessibility of the Boulevard.
“Someone told us this place is ’20 minutes to anywhere’ and we kind of cocked our heads,” Mondor said. “But that’s kind of true. This is a centrally-located community.”
Meeting participants were asked to break into groups, record, and organize into categories the things they want or need in the community.
Ignasky’s group, which included Pam Grabowski and Diane Walkowski, both long-time Brookline residents, shared ideas similar to those of other groups in the room.
A local grocery store, a deli or meat market, renovated storefronts, an urgent care facility, community gardens, art galleries, a larger farmers market and a public running track were all on the table.
“This whole stretch used to be busier,” Walkowski said. “There was a hardware store, a men’s clothing store, a full grocery. Of course back then, the buildings weren’t so old, but some have really fallen into disrepair.”
These suggestions, Mondor said, will become part of the proposal EvolveEA presents at the third meeting, tentatively scheduled for Sept. 12.
EvloveEA will then form a proposed plan of action, and remain on board as a consultant of sorts to guide local committees through implementing the plan, or parts of it.OurBrookline.com will remain an active website even after the identity project is complete, so residents can continue to discuss ongoing projects.