Friday, October 30, 2015

Sprucing Up The Northern End Of Huntingdon

A streetcar bridge once connected Remington and Hampden. In its place, the new trailhead is easier to traverse and more attractive. 

By Nellie Power

The intersection of Huntingdon Avenue, 31st Street, and the path north is looking a little bit different these days! Grant funding from the Homewood Community Partners Initiative’s (HCPI) Spruce Up program supported the transformation of the parkland and pathway at that site.

The project got its start back in the winter of 2014, when I noticed an online article calling for proposals for the grant funding. I had long wondered about the strange dead-end path that forced walkers and bikers to pick their way over large boulders, heading up or down a sometimes slippery hillside. An idea quickly formed: What if I submitted a proposal to extend the path and give the site an overall face lift?

Reaching out to community leaders and partners resulted in a groundswell of support and offers of assist
ance. The Greater Remington Improvement Association (GRIA) agreed to serve as fiscal sponsor, since a nonprofit organization needed to oversee any funds awarded. Seawall Development offered financial support and project management oversight. Local professionals (Thanks Tom McGilloway and Dominic Terlizzi!) contributed their creative renderings which were included in the grant proposal. More than one hundred neighbors responded to the survey requesting feedback on the project. The City’s Parks Department and Department of Transportation agreed that they’d collaborate on permitting and the proposed work if the funds were awarded. Letters of support from Councilwoman Mary Pat Clarke, State Senator Catherine Pugh, the Remington Neighborhood Alliance, Bikemore, and the homeowners on Huntingdon Ave rounded out the support and resulted in a $25,000 grant award!

Research exposed the unique history of the site. A streetcar bridge, built in 1893, carried passengers on the Number 25 line from points south, over Stony Run and into Hampden. The surrounding area was designated parkland in 1903 and remains part of Wyman Park. The bridge was dismantled in 1949, leaving behind large stones formerly part of the bridge abutments, and that strange dead-end path.

We celebrated the new, improved path and lovely landscaping with a neighborhood party on July 23rd which was attended by more than 70 neighbors and supporters. Food and beverage donations from Sweet 27, The Dizz and Charmington’s made for delicious dining.

Thanks to everyone already mentioned as well as the volunteers at the Streetcar Museum, especially Kevin Mueller, who provided many of the historic photographs. Little did I know that this small kernel of an idea would result in learning more about the history of the location and neighborhood, developing new friendships, interacting with businesses and supporters, becoming a more invested and involved community member as well as a final product prettier than anything I could have imagined. ◘

This plaque marks the new trailhead at the top of Huntingdon.