Oakland (Pa.) residents take ownership of strategic plan
Oakland: Planning for 2025
June 9, 2011
Community-initiated planning for Oakland’s future is continuing into its third phase, following the recent Oakland 2025 community action forum, part of a year-long effort to develop a master plan for the neighborhood.
The forum was the culmination of a five-week series of dialogues in which groups shared their experiences and their vision for making Oakland a better place to live, work and play. (See April 28 University Times.)
The May 12 action forum drew more than 200 people, according to Tara Sherry-Torres, community organizer at Oakland Planning and Development Corp. (OPDC), which is coordinating the project with support from neighborhood institutions and community partners, including Pitt. School of Social Work affiliates are acting as facilitators for the project. The project also has been endorsed by the University Senate community relations committee.
Among forum attendees were a mix of Oakland residents, business owners, landlords, employees of Oakland institutions, students, bicyclists and transit riders.
Attendees voted on the top action ideas to determine priorities for action teams, Sherry-Torres explained. Those priorities are:
• Transportation and pedestrian safety.
Recommendations include approaching Oakland-area institutions and public agencies to pool their resources to create a bus loop for intra-Oakland travel; improving safety with better enforcement of traffic laws, and raising awareness regarding alternative means of transportation.
Sherry-Torres commented that transportation concerns have mounted in the Oakland community since the elimination of the 84B Oakland Loop bus route as part of the March 27 Port Authority service cuts.
• Housing issues.
Recommendations include reactivating the Oakland code enforcement task force and engaging community members to enforce codes on negligent landlords, housing violations, parking violations and littering; encouraging investment in the Oakland housing market, and working with police, student groups and community organizations to address noise, underage drinking and nuisance bars.
• Strengthening neighborhood quality and connectivity through investment in community beautification, greening efforts and public spaces.
Recommendations include connecting West and South Oakland, as well as the Oakland business district, with the Eliza Furnace Trail and Second Avenue by improving steps and trail connections, and developing a series of beautification initiatives to improve the area’s image.
Sherry-Torres said general recommendations at the May 12 forum included surveying residents on their preference for an online community forum or a printed newsletter to raise awareness of local events, services and initiatives, and engaging Oakland coalitions and organizations on a branding campaign to promote
She said 76 people signed up for one of the three action teams, which will meet during the summer to review the recommendations and develop written action plans.
“Over the summer our action teams will pursue a more efficient and coordinated Oakland bus loop, reactivating the Oakland code enforcement task force and sprouting new neighborhood greening initiatives and trail connections,” Sherry-Torres said. “While these action teams work, we will also move forward with the broader Oakland 2025 planning process.”
Workshops and strategy sessions will be held in the fall, she added.
By the end of 2011, Sherry-Torres said, the hope is to combine the action teams’ recommendations into a comprehensive Oakland community plan that will serve as a blueprint for improvements.
Tell us your story now!