Morningside Baseball Update

Morningside Baseball News: the under 10 year old boy’s team won two tournaments recently: the Braun Memorial Day tournament and the Lower Burrell 4th of July tournament. There are some baseball champions coming out of the neighborhood!. Congratulations to them and all the businesses who helped sponsor them!

Morningside Wildcats Softball Registration

Registration for girls’ softball is just around the corner. All girls 6-18 years old are welcome to join the league.

Costs: $85 for one child and $150 for a family of up to three children. Register before February 28th and get an early registration discount of $5 off these prices ($80/$145).

Open registration will be held at St. Raphael’s Library, 1154 Chislett St. on the following dates:
Fri. Jan. 25, 5 – 7pm
Sat. Jan. 26, 11am – 3pm
Sat. Feb. 16, 11am – 3pm

Questions? Contact Nicole Mazza at 412-251-2155 after 6pm or nicolejr72895@gmail.com.

From the President: Field Improvement Project

Improving the quality and appearance of Heths and Natoli Fields is a hot topic these days. Over the summer MACC retained the services of design and planning firm Pashek and Associates through a grant from the Community Design Center of Pittsburgh. The project, resulting from a dialogue between local government officials, residents and youth athletic teams, was rooted as a way to identify and improve the quality and safety of the playing surfaces, encourage cooperation between organizations and modernize the facilities at the two fields. The purpose of the resulting plan is to identify community priorities and provide the community and local government guidance for cultivating and making renovation and investment decisions in the future.

Over the course of the last few months, Pashek and Associates and MACC volunteers have held more than ten meetings with representatives from youth athletic teams, groups of neighbors, city officials, and the Highland Park Community Council. MACC has hosted discussions at monthly MACC meetings, coordinated surveys and conducted numerous individual interviews. For the most part, the planning process has enjoyed neighborly cooperation and spirited input. At the core, folks want to participate and know that their input matters and is considered in the plan’s development. What we’ve learned so far is that there is agreement that the fields are wonderful, well used assets; and that they need the community’s and our city’s attention and resources. We also learned that because of the popularity and proximity of the parks, their value and impact stretches beyond Morningside into portions of Highland Park and beyond.

As part of the planning input process, the professional design team at Pashek and Associates has made some initial recommendations. Their recommendations are the result of community input, specifically the challenges faced by youth athletic programs and the concerns of park users, and their analysis of the existing use and configuration of the fields. Many of the recommendations challenge the way we as Morningsiders and Highland Parkers look at the two fields.

In a snapshot, Pashek and Associates’ recommendations include improvement of the playground facilities at both fields, providing additional parking at both locations, adding safety lighting and connecting to the Heth’s Run Restoration project to name a few of the suggestions. In addition, one of the key recommendations is to convert  Natoli Field, a diamond shaped field, to the home for baseball and softball activities; and use Heth’s Field, a rectangular shaped field, for youth football and soccer. Currently, Natoli Field is used for youth football, soccer and baseball and Heths’ Field is used for softball. The professional reasoning for this recommendation made by Pashek and Associates is that by separating the uses of “rectangular” and “diamond” sports to fields that share the best configuration for their respective activity will allow for higher quality and safer field surfaces for the kids and improve maintenance and upkeep. The parking, playground and numerous other enhancement recommendations are the result of surveys, on-site inspections and the need to meet basic safety standards for public park facilities.

On October 17th, MACC hosted a public meeting where residents and neighbors learned of the input that has helped shaped the plan to date as well as the recommendations being made by Pashek and Associates based on that input. Residents were able to provide suggestions and recommendations to enhance the plan at that meeting. MACC also discussed the plan at the November 7th MACC meeting and has provided a survey along with copies of the renderings at www. morningside-pa.org. Please provide your comments and suggestions.

The completed field improvement plan will provide guidance, recommendations and suggested improvements and timeframes for completion. The plan provides a framework for change. And, to be clear, not all change is possible or even advisable; the plan helps us understand what is possible without forcing change. Implementation of a plan will require cooperation and a community effort. Some action items will be easy to identify and accomplish; others will require financial resources and may necessitate further community conversation. However, the point of going through the exercise is to encourage cooperation between all users of the field, take into consideration the context or location of the parks and what surrounds them and improve these well loved places.

If you have any questions, comments or suggestions we welcome your input.

Grant Ervin
MACC President

Heth’s and Natoli Field Improvement Overview and Survey

Quality recreational spaces are an important component of any community.  Morningside is fortunate to have two such neighborhood parks within the community. Heth’s and Natoli Fields are unique environmental assets that host a variety of activities for people of all ages.  In recent years, the topic of improving the two parks has become a frequent conversation among members of the community.  The fields are often the focus of neighborhood clean ups, extensive use by youth athletic teams, children using the playgrounds and adults seeking recreation or exercise opportunities.  However, maintenance, improving safety and upkeep has become a concern of residents, patrons and city officials alike. Because of their popularity and heavy use, physical and scheduling improvements are needed at the two fields.

In an effort to help coordinate the field improvement conversation and seek solutions to challenges and opportunities for improvements, MACC sought and received assistance from the Community Design Center of Pittsburgh (CDCP).  Using resources from CDCP and assistance from Councilman Dowd’s office and Representative Costa’s Office, MACC coordinated a steering committee consisting of representatives from the community’s youth athletic teams, city department staff, elected officials and residents to hire a professional design firm to help guide the community through the field improvement process.  The committee selected Pashek Associates because of their awareness of the neighborhood and their deep experience in designing and programming athletic fields and park spaces.

Pashek Associates engaged in an intensive review of historical documents, interviews of key municipal personal and neighborhood and youth athletic team leadership and field permitting data.  Using the information gathered and the input of the primary users of the facilities, Pashek Associates prepared a series of draft renderings to provide visual demonstration of potential field improvements, reconfigurations and programming recommendations. This information was then presented to the steering committee for review.

The committee is interested in receiving additional community input from residents and neighbors. The purpose of this input is to help shape the plan, identify priorities for future improvements and uses, recognize items that might not have been identified yet and develop the agenda for the upcoming community meeting.

The purpose of the field improvement planning project is to build a strategic community vision that can help attract the resources necessary to invest in and improve these two assets.  The final planning document will serve as a guide for the community, serve as a recommendation for future investment, community activities, and field use, and be used to support future grant applications.

The community planning meeting is scheduled for October 17th at 6pm at the Morningside VFW.

 

Heth’s and Natoli Field Improvement Project

Heth’s and Natoli Fields are two frequently used amenities in Morningside. Sports teams, children at the playgrounds, dog walkers and recreation seekers of all kinds find their way to these facilities. While many people pitch in to keep the fields well maintained, time and normal wear and tear are taking their toll.

Last summer Councilman Dowd helped to convene city officials, members of MACC and our youth sports teams to start to identify potential field improvements and determine which city departments would be able to assist. As the group began to rattle off item after item, it became clear that the project might be a bit bigger than first anticipated.

Using information leaders expressed during this first meeting, MACC submitted a proposal to the Community Design Center of Pittsburgh’s Design Fund. The Design Fund assists communities by providing financial support that enables organizations to retain a professional design firm to assist with community planning, visioning and development of design drawings for a specific project. CDCP selected MACC through their competitive application process to receive a $7000 Design Fund Grant this past December.

Members of MACC and the youth athletic team leaders developed and distributed a request for proposal to leading design firms from southwestern Pennsylvania. Firms responded by outlining their approach to improving the two fields. In March, the working committee selected Pashek and Associates – a Pittsburgh-based planning and design firm to lead the project. Pashek and Associates has valuable experience in athletic facility design and a great familiarity with Morningside. To learn more about the firm and see examples of their work please check them out at www.pashekla.com.

The field improvement project will require a significant amount of community engagement. While we often associate the fields for hosting youth athletics, the project provides an opportunity to acknowledge the use by all members of the community, improve coordination of activities and identify the resources necessary to improve the condition of the fields. With this in mind, there will be several community design meetings hosted through the process to solicit input and ideas from Morningside residents to include providing high quality athletic fields and youth activities, but also integrate the needs of other residents. The intended outcome of the project is to develop a community vision that continues to raise the standard and quality of these two neighborhood assets and determine the resources required to implement the vision.

We hope that you’ll join the project and share your ideas.