Hazelwood Initiative, Inc., (HI) is a growing community-based organization committed to the economic and social development of Greater Hazelwood. HIʼs roots date to 1994 and two local interest groups: the Hazelwood Neighborhood Maintenance Task Force and the Hazelwood Economic Leveraging Partnership.
The Neighborhood Maintenance Task Force began in response to Mayor Tom Murphyʼs call to form neighborhood organizations to combat crime and blight. The task force engaged various city departments to address ongoing quality of life issues such as abandoned housing, maintenance of public infrastructure, and open-air drug sales. The Economic Leveraging Partnership attempted to garner financial resources for community development.
During the late-1990s, both organizations joined a coalition that opposed rebuilding of LTV Steelʼs Coke Works in Hazelwood. For over 75 years, the plant was a major employer, but at great cost to community health. With the imposition of stricter environmental standards, Americaʼs decline in steel production, and the emergence of the hi-tech industry, coke processing did not conform to a new community vision for redevelopment. Successful opposition to the proposed coke works along with vast cross membership in both organizations led to the formation of the Hazelwood Initiative. In 1999, HI filed a corporate charter and applied for IRS 501(c)(3) non-profit status.
Soon after the defeat of a new coke plant, HI was the designated lead agency for the Public Involvement Program, under PAʼs Act 2—Environmental Cleanup of Industrial Sites. The agency worked with the PA DEP, LTV Steel Corp. and the City of Pittsburgh in reaching standards for the cleanup of the abandoned site. HI contracted with an environmental consultant who interpreted data and advised the community regarding the site remediation process. This approach led to a cooperative effort among all parties and clarified clean-up issues.
Broadening its strategic role, HI facilitated vision planning for Hazelwood: Master Planning in Hazelwood and Junction Hollow—a yearlong, community-focused study that identifies the vision and direction for the redevelopment of Greater Hazelwood. HI also has worked with the City Planning department on more site-specific studies and on design standards for Second Avenue.
HI stands at the brink of community development. After three years of guidance from South Side Local Development Corporation, HI was assigned responsibility by the Urban Redevelopment Authority for the Mainstreet program in Hazelwood. Now acting as district manager, HI provides project coordination and financial oversight. Other community development projects include partnering with the Pittsburgh Housing Development Corporation on six new houses to remodel by Palm Beach Premier Remodeling Wellington; restoration of the historic 18th Century Woods House with Pittsburgh History and Landmarks and the Urban Redevelopment Authority; identifying a new use and tenant for the abandoned Carnegie Library; and helping to foster Keystone Opportunity Zone development.