Super Playground – Open for Play! 

After nine months of closure, the Highland Park Super Playground has reopened! 

On August 24th, a grand reopening celebration was hosted by the Highland Park Community Council along with the City of Pittsburgh. Hundreds of neighbors and families gathered to enjoy a beautiful first day of play. The event kicked off with an official ribbon-cutting with words from Andrea Ketzel (the project lead for the new playground from the City of Pittsburgh), Monica Watt (longtime Super-Playground caretaker and HPCC playground committee member), Marsha Kolbe and Roseanne Levine (the two Highland Park prior-residents who led the creation of the original Super Playground), as well as Mayor Ed Gainey and Highland Park city councilperson Deb Gross.

The weather was gorgeous for the opening and the new playground glowed under the sun, filled with kids climbing, running, swinging and laughing.  A large, playful balloon arch and balloon bouquets added to the festive view, contributed by Von Walter + FUNKballoon. Under the Maple Grove shelter, kids enjoyed free treats from Vinnie’s Shaved Ice, as well as face painting and temporary tattoos from artists with PGH Party Creations, all sponsored by the Highland Park Community Council. 

The new playground retains the wooden, natural-play feel of the original Super Playground, a key expressed desire of the community. It also has some new elements including individual and group bouncers, a scramble area with wooden stumps, and both large and small boat play structures. The ground around the playground is now squishy, safe for running (or falling!) and easy to navigate with a stroller or wheelchair. There are more varieties of swings, including a large-spider swing that can hold multiple people, two double swings that kids and adults can ride together, and two toddler swings. Surrounding the perimeter of the new playground are several picnic tables and a number of custom wood benches made from reclaimed wood – some of which came from the older trees around the playground which had to be removed due to their condition when construction began.

At the front of the playground glimmers the new community garden mosaic sign, created in partnership with the Pittsburgh Glass Center. The sign reads “Highland Park Super Playground” in mirrored letters surrounded by colorful flowers made by community members. If you or a loved one joined us for the mosaic flower-making events earlier this summer, you can find your flower on the online mosaic guide. There, you’ll also find photo albums of the mosaic-making, playground construction and the grand opening, as well as a link to purchase a special commemorative Highland Park flower mosaic kit from Pittsburgh Glass Center to make and keep at home.

Additional changes to the playground are coming this fall. Over 40 new trees will be planted in and around the playground once the weather is more consistently cool. Pittsburgh Glass Center will also be installing a dozen small “hidden mosaics” inspired by ideas submitted by kids and community members last year. 

The large tunnel near the playground will continue to be under construction until next summer. Once that is complete, the road around the reservoir will open again to traffic. Over the next few years we also will hopefully be seeing improvement to the paths leading to and from the playground. 

The HPCC would like to thank all the community members who provided input for the new playground design, online or during the multiple community design meetings. We’d also especially like to recognize our playground committee members, who spent the last two years working with the City of Pittsburgh to keep the community connected, involved, and informed about the redesign project: Sabrina Culyba, Mac Lynch, Betsy Rogerson and Monica Watt.

If you haven’t had a chance to see the new playground, we encourage you to swing on by!

September 15 Virtual Committee Meeting 9/15/2022 @ 7:00 PM

Greetings,

(Apologies for late notice) The Highland Park Community Council will hold its September Community Meeting via Zoom.

Agenda items:

  • HPCC Updates
  • Zone 5 Update
  • Tree Pittsburgh
  • Megan Rose will talk about the services available from MomsWork.  MomsWork is a project of the National Council of Jewish Women Pittsburgh, a nonprofit that has operated in the city for more than a century. All MomsWork programming — including advocacy, educational, and networking opportunities — is free and open to women from all socioeconomic backgrounds. 

What: September HPCC Community Meeting

When: September 15, 2022 7:00 PM Eastern Time

You MUST register in advance for this meeting by clicking this link.

After registering you you will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the meeting. 

The meeting will be chaired by Howard Degenholtz, Treasurer.

Union Project to Celebrate 20 Years

First a Presbyterian church, then a Baptist church, now an organization designed to use the arts to bridge gaps between communities, the church on the corner of N. Negley and Stanton has a rich history. Some of that history will be shared during an open house event on Sept. 21 celebrating 20 years of the Union Project, the current stewards and occupants of the church, that will include details of future building preservation projects.

Once inhabited by the Adena Tribe, the Hopewell Tribe and the Monongahela People, and later refugees from tribes including the Delaware, Shawnee and Iroquois, the corner of Negley and Stanton was later the site of a red brick farmhouse built in 1808 and occupied by Jacob Negley and his wife, Anna Barbara Winebiddle. It was their daughter, Sarah Jane, who married Thomas Mellon, founder of the bank.  

The house was gone by 1889 however, and just a few years later the Second United Presbyterian Church was built, completed around 1902, and now housing the Union Project. It was one of only three churches that ultimately served Highland Park and one of only two remaining, the other being St. Andrews on Hampton.  

In 1936, Second United Presbyterian changed hands. Its congregation joined that of East Liberty Presbyterian, and East End Baptist Church moved from its location on Shady Ave. into what’s now the Union Project. East End Baptist later changed its name to Union Baptist around 1960 but by 2000 the church no longer had enough participants to support it.  

The Pittsburgh Leadership Foundation bought the building in 2002 for $145,000 and leased it to the Union Project until 2006, when the organization took over the lease.  

Jeffrey Dorsey, the executive director of the Union Project, finds that history of the building — transitioning from supporting a predominantly white congregation to a predominantly black congregation — fitting given the mission of the Union Project. “The history of the building has been half white and half black,” he said. “And the Union Project got its start with thinking of how to be a place that bridges ethnicities, races and socio economic backgrounds, and to use the arts to build more inclusive communities.”  

The story of the stained glass windows and the Union Project’s efforts to restore them is well known locally and farther afield. Through trial and error, including training young people aging out of the foster system and neighbors to repair the windows, the organization figures it saved $1.3 million by leveraging the community to bring the windows back to their current beauty. The Union Project still gets calls from organizations in Pittsburgh and beyond looking for tips on how to affordably restore stained glass windows in historic buildings.  

The Union Project’s windows, unique in their predominantly green hue, bring people together in other ways. Dorsey noticed that the building had become a popular spot for same-sex couples to get married and didn’t know why until one couple told him that they wanted to be married in a church but didn’t feel comfortable doing so in one with traditional religious iconography that implied judgement on their marriage. The Union Project windows exude beauty but no judgement.  

Admire the windows for yourself, as well as the recently built exterior kiln shelter, during the celebration from 4 – 6 on Sept. 21.

Please Join Us for the Highland Park Super Playground Grand Reopening Celebration – August 27th from 1-4pm!

The HPCC Super Playground Committee is excited to announce that the new Super Playground will officially open on the afternoon of Saturday, August 27th at 1pm sharp. The formal celebration will go from 1 – 4pm, kicking off with a ribbon cutting, followed by open playground play, face painting, and cool treats from Vinnie’s Shaved Ice.

We invite everyone to join the celebration! 

As part of the reopening, we’ll also be unveiling new mosaic artwork at the playground, created in partnership with the Pittsburgh Glass Center, and showcasing colorful balloon displays from Von Walter + funkBALLOON.

Come help us celebrate the City and community efforts that made this new playground possible.

PARKING: Please note: Reservoir Drive is closed due to the tunnel/bridge reconstruction near the playground. We recommend walking to the playground if possible. Limited parking is available on the road near the playground, which we would like to use for our handicap visitors. There is additional street parking at the park entrance and on N. Highland Ave. Reserved handicap parking is available in the small lot located at the intersection of Farmhouse Drive and Reservoir Drive.

2 More Weeks of Reservoir of Jazz in Highland Park!

The Reservoir of Jazz is back in Highland Park during the month of August. The last 2 weeks have been great! These weekly Sunday concerts, presented by the City of Pittsburgh Office of Special Events, are free to the public and sponsored by the HPCC and RAD. The HPCC also hosts a children’s activity and a 50/50 raffle each Sunday. Please join us for this fun event in the park throughout August! See more details from below. 

Below is the information from the city:

RESERVOIR OF JAZZ TO ENTERTAIN MUSIC LOVERS IN AUGUST

This summer music lovers can once again relax on the lawn at Highland Park to the sounds of jazz performed by Pittsburgh’s finest musicians at the “Reservoir of Jazz” concert series presented by the City of Pittsburgh Office of Special Events.

This free showcase of the area’s extraordinary talent of jazz musicians will take place each Sunday in August from 5 – 7 p.m. on Reservoir Drive in Highland Park.

August 7   JOHN SHANNON’S FOURTH RIVER 

August 14   FUSION ILLUSION

August 21   MCG JAZZ PRESENTS AURORA 

August 28   LILLY ABREU BRAZILIAN JAZZ QUARTET 

“Reservoir of Jazz” is sponsored by Highland Park Community Council and RAD.

DOUBLE THE FUN — Stay after the concert each week to join in SUMMER SOUL LINE DANCING sessions near the fountain. Instructor Roland Ford incorporates R&B music in free classes that begin with basic steps and finish with more advanced moves. Summer Soul Line Dancing takes place 7 – 9 p.m. on August 7, 14, 21 and 28.

Please note:  A large section of Reservoir Drive in Highland Park will be closed during the weeks this concert series takes place.  Parking will be limited and patrons are encouraged to arrive early and seek alternative parking options.

For more information, visit www.pittsburghpa.gov/events, follow @PghEventsOffice on Twitter or LIKE @PghEventsOffice on Facebook. Inclement weather may cause cancellations. For cancellation updates, follow @PghEventsOffice on Twitter or LIKE @PghEventsOffice on Facebook.