Millvale Pivot

2012-2013 | Ecodistricts Planning
Researcher & Project Manager, evolveEA, Pittsburgh, PA, USA |
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The Borough of Millvale is a classic western Pennsylvania mill town with a compact residential and commercial district woven into a dramatic landscape of hillsides and waterfront. Similar to many riverfront industrial communities, Millvale suffered a loss of business and population as the steel industry declined in the region. To further complicate matters, Millvale sits at the bottom of the Girty’s Run watershed where upstream development has repeatedly caused flooding in its business district and residential areas. Over the years, Millvale officials have worked to rehabilitate and rejuvenate the community in the face of economic adversity, flood events, and environmental challenges. Recently, the community has seen return on these efforts as they are receiving attention for its affordability, livability and proactive efforts.

The community was looking to accelerate positive growth and development with a focus on sustainability principles and triple bottom line thinking. So, they decided to embark on an ecodistricts planning process. EvolveEA was proud to facilitate an ecodistrict educational program with the community. The program intended to build the community’s capacity to catalyze renewal by introducing residents to ecodistrict concepts, contextualizing current community efforts, and by asking residents to envision how ecodistrict principles might be applied in future planning projects.

After the educational workshops, the second step included planning towards an ecodistricts future, through the creation of a community wide assessment around the key elements of water, food and energy. The assessment provided a conceptual framework of goals and strategies that preserve, replenish, and maximize the use of resources within the Borough. Catalytic projects were identified to become the focus of future in-depth planning and implementation.

This project was a targeting assessment & plan development with a focus on issues of water, food, and energy. The goals included:

  • Stormwater & green infrastructure analysis: Identifying opportunities to implement green infrastructure and technologies in order to decrease negative impact of water-related issues and identifying where water can be considered as an asset.

  • Food & energy systems mapping & analysis: Identifying local actions and programs to support food and energy sufficiency and long-term supplies.

  • Recommendations: Using the inventory, analyses and recommendations from water, food and energy to inform potential for development in one community identified project.