East Liberty Community Planning Meeting Solutions November 9, 2007 John Rhoads – Self-introduction William Johnson – Business Banker for PNC Emily Nordquist – Community Outreach Coordinator for ELDI Roger Gusick – Penn Hollows Fred Logan – Kelly Strayhorn Theatre Katie Judd – Pitt Student, future East Liberty business owner Mindy Mandura – Mercy Behavioral Health Andre Fleming – East Liberty Cuts Amy Enrico – ELDI David Serbin – ELDI Maelene Myers – ELDI Bob New – Director, Kelly Strayhorn Theatre Andrew Think about creative solutions to address each discussion topics: 1. Environment Parking - New meters could create more street parking since the road is wide enough on the corridor (Andre) - There should also be free parking in a designated area (Andre) - There should be free parking for business owners (Andre) - More parking should be created neighborhood-wide (John) - A parking garage could be an option - Clearer and stronger enforcement of the meters (Emily) - Business owners could pay for the meters all day on a Saturday to encourage shoppers to come out, similar to what Shadyside Chamber of Commerce has done (Will) - Free valet parking could be provided for shoppers where shoppers could be brought directly to their cars, similar to Walnut Street Valet Services in Shadyside (Will) - There should be increased signage of the two parking lots that we already have as well as increased lighting along the way to these parking lots. It is hard to create new parking lots because they are very expensive (David) - “Pedestrian cabs” could be an option, where youth would deliver groceries to shoppers’ homes or cars. Whole Foods has expressed interest and support for this idea. The business wouldn’t take too much investment because the resources would simply be bikes and hand held radios. Uniform “pedi-cabs” could radio in unsafe activity since there would be more eyes watching out for neighborhood crime (David) - We could connect pedi-cabs with Bike Pittsburgh (Amy) - We could also formalize a valet parking system, particularly in the evening hours in East Liberty. We should invite Mark Minnerly to these meetings as a business investor since the business might need a little capital to start (Bob) - There are amazing opportunities for burgeoning entrepreneurs to take advantage of services lacking in the community (Amy) Night life - More festivals and night time activities that go into the evenings would bring out more crowds (Emily) - There is definitely a need for a late night venue/“hang out place” (Katie) - Another point of discussion concerning nightlight revolves around how Arts and Culture can contribute (Fred) - There needs to be a formal or informal “hook-up” between the businesses that would benefit from a performance at the Kelly Strayhorn and the Kelly Strayhorn staff. Arts and culture programs certainly provide great economic benefits to businesses, such as appeal to the theatre crowd to eat dinner before a performance or get coffee afterwards (Fred) - There needs to be more coordination between arts venues and restaurants (John) - Businesses that could benefit from this coordination should be more active in the planning process (Fred) - The PAT bus system used to have a “UV loop” that ran from Southside/Oakland over to East Liberty. This means of alternate transportation should be brought back (Amy) - We could host music performances on the street during the holidays where community organizers could plan grassroot “music, business, culture” events in abandoned buildings without waiting for the venues (Amy) - Groups can jump in during the two weekends before Christmas (December 12-23) and use the Kelly Strayhorn Theatre as a venue for performances (Bob) Littering - Individuals need to take care of their own space (Andre) - There needs to be an attitude change with the youth. We could have “Youth litter champions” where youth could be recognized for helping keep the neighborhood clean. This would cause a change in culture and increase neighborhood spirit (David) - Another idea would be to have a “Clean up campaign” involving stores and local groups in the area (Maelene) - Trash awareness programs could be implemented (Maelene) - Rewards/awards for store owners that show that they care about maintaining clean storefronts is another possibility (David) - Community organizers could connect with Peabody High School and talk to the Principal about ways to raise trash awareness with the youth (Amy) - The ELDI could send out a survey that directly asks people what their concerns are in a less aggressive/confrontational way (Fred) - The community could also lean on the NID, whose top concern is business district cleanliness (Bob) - The NID and the Business Co-op can merge and address these concerns (Amy) - Individual business storefronts should also be taken care of by individuals (Emily) - Small businesses need to work together and not lean on an outside force to handle cleanliness (Amy) - If the media is focused on specific areas we could handle clean-up strategically by forcing it upon people as a “shame campaign” (Fred) Vacancy - Businesses and residents could adopt vacant buildings Let’s not rush this process but spend more time discussing solutions at another meeting (Fred) Difficult to schedule more meetings with the holiday season approaching (Emily) This discussion will go on as long as it needs to so that ideas can be fleshed out. We’ll figure out what the next steps will be (Maelene) (ELDI) encourages participants to start a dialogue through email and utilize online resources as well (Emily) 2. Coordination and Communication - Since a disconnect exists between arts/culture leaders and the community we should invite arts and culture leaders to these meetings. We should press the importance of these meetings the potential for us to work together to think of ways we could all benefit (Fred) - The Kelly Strayhorn Theatre has been longing to connect with businesses in the community. A tasteful “Business of the week” display in the lobby of the theatre would be one way to help market the businesses. - An East Liberty business fair in the lobby would also be a possibility. The theatre could be filled with tables for each business. The Kelly Strayhorn wants to get the word out to the business community about what they can do for businesses. The Kelly Strayhorn is a particularly prime location since it is a public place directly on the square and has recently applied for a beer and liquor license (Bob) - People will stop and stare at renderings of new spaces. Everyone is interested in the development, wondering what the neighborhood will look like in the future? i.e. People wonder what the pedestrian bridge is going to look like or what Bakery Square will look like (David) - We’ll need someone to answer questions at these events and we’ll also need people to attend the business fair itself. We have the space we just need to find a way to bring the people. (Bob) - Wherever people are congregating and passing through would be a good place for a stand alone display. Foam presentation boards would need to be refreshed and kept up to date (David) - ELDI could encourage businesses to sponsor action steps in the community rather than ask the businesses to do them themselves i.e. plant a tree or sponsor someone to plant a tree on their behalf (Emily) - Another way we could inform people is through kiosks (David) - We can also use vacant storefronts for information displays (Andrew) - We need to market East Liberty and show people that we have a plan and we have solutions. If a few businesses wanted to jump in together to market East Liberty they could promote the neighborhood itself. This would change the perception that nothing is happening (Katie) - Should this be an organic process or come out of an organized entity like ELDI? (John) - If no one is in charge it is not organically going to happen (Katie) - The ELDI needs other partners. We can provide sponsorships but we just can’t do it all. This marketing idea should be done out of house (Maelene) - We currently have limited publications. We need something small where members of the neighborhood could contribute like a publication that is produced by members of the neighborhood and then distributed by them (Emily) - Bloomfield/Garfield Bulletin is not always distributed or advertised very well Many people were confused about the Bulletin and do not receive it. Those who do agreed that it is an effective publication (David) - Blogs are a good source for information however we have to keep in mind that online sources are not the best sources for everyone (Emily) - We can put together a much better, friendlier newspaper and have drop off places for easier distribution. We need to enhance the publications we already have rather than create new ones. We should help create a mailing list as well (Maelene) - www.eastlibertypost.com is a community website that is set up in a blog format and regularly updated. Each time someone makes a contribution they increase their eligibility to win an ipod (David) - We need larger posters, or a banner across the road getting the word out about eastlibertypost.com. Something that would say “Your source for East Liberty news” (Amy) - People need an “RSS feed.” Advertising is exactly what our blog needs (Amy) - People can utilize the website as an East Liberty Business Directory to post needs, etc. (Emily) - Another idea would be to have a town meeting event where people can go and get a lot of information all at once (David) - The Kelly Strayhorn Theater’s “Community Forum Series,” would give the community a free space to use under specific conditions for the common good. No admission is charged, no money exchanged and nothing is sold i.e. mayoral debate. They are currently looking for models that would use the series so that they can secure funding i.e. they are looking for examples where people have a common vision to convene. So far it’s been utilized 5 times. Again, the Kelly Strayhorn is a centrally located place for people to convene (Bob) Let’s be more specific. It’s a tedious process but we need to narrow down ideas. (Amy) Specific categories: Environment 1. Cleanliness Campaign – engage the new NID, high schools, businesses 2. Vacancy – organize cultural events, create promotional billboards, create informational drop off sites 3. Parking – develop a neighborhood valet service, start a pedi-cycle business, create signage, create free meters, bring back a reliance on other forms of transportation Communication 1. Disconnect between businesses/arts/community – organize neighborhood mixers where businesses would promote the event at the Kelly Strayhorn, donate to the Kelly Strayhorn and Fred would provide the artists for the event, build upon the community forum series 2. Publications – advertise the blog, connect with Bulletin newspaper staff to find a way to pull more funds into the publication, develop a general mailing list, engage the business association’s primary focus on branding, work on the East Liberty Business Publication, initiate a column about East Liberty in a major newspaper, engage PopCity which has single handedly changed a lot of communities 3. Neighborhood Perception – start a press release campaign that consistently delivers news to the media when positive things are happening, hire a press release coordinator (who should house this person? Business Association or Chamber?) Things to add: - We haven’t talked about how the churches can be involved in this process. They could have a lot of positive things to add to youth activities and volunteer days (Katie) - We could start a creative entrepreneur campaign – “Creative entrepreneurs wanted!” (Amy) - We could also organize a Business Plan Competition with awards for the best business plans and how they would move the community forward. Everyone could receive funding to encourage people to participate. The competition would target East Liberty and pull an entrepreneurial spirit out into the open. Even existing businesses that want to augment their business could participate. (David) - We need to address the issue that it’s becoming too expensive to start a business in East Liberty (Amy) - Even though the rent will go up the traffic will go up too. The market will react. Companies that have good businesses will be getting more for the rent and there will be a bigger return (David) - We also need more space (Amy) Our next meeting will be on Monday, November 19, 2007 at 8:00 am at ELDI.
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