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  • Facility in Natrona Heights that opened in December 2010.


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New community center to open in Harrison[]

December 20, 2010, By Len Barcousky, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, lbarcousky@post-gazette.com or 412-263-1159.

Allegheny County Housing Authority administrators hope young people will learn discipline and build character through sports and academic programs to be offered at a new community center opening Tuesday in Harrison.

Frank Aggazio, the authority's executive director, also thinks children and teens from the township's Natrona Heights neighborhood will have fun there.

"These new amenities are geared toward education and recreation with a youth focus," he said during an interview last week. "Sports can put children on the right path."

The $1.65 million center will serve residents of the authority's Park Sheldon housing development and other areas of Harrison. The new facility will include a full-size basketball court that can be adapted for multiple activities, including volleyball and dance, a computer tutoring lab to be staffed by the Highlands School District and an instructional kitchen for nutrition and cooking lessons.

The result of the center's dual emphasis, Mr. Aggazio said, should be a safer neighborhood and children who grow up to be more productive adults.

The Park Sheldon Community Center is a "green" building, meaning that it was constructed to meet energy efficiency and environment-friendly standards. Paint sealants and glues used in its construction, for example, were low- to zero-volatile products, meaning they gave off little or no harmful gases. The structure's cool roof was designed to reflect solar radiation. The building is expected to use 30 percent less water and 14 percent less energy than a similar structure built to traditional standards.

The building has received a LEED 2.2 Silver certification from the U.S. Green Building Council. LEED is an acronym for Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design, and "silver" is the second of four levels of certification.

"Not only are the programs at the center a community asset, [but] so is the building itself," Mr. Aggazio said.

Most of the money for the 8,800-square-foot building -- $1,050,000 -- was housing authority and federal Department of Housing and Urban Development capital funds. Allegheny County's Economic Development Department allocated $450,000 from its community development block grants and the state's Redevelopment Assistance Capital Program provided the final $150,000.

U.S. Rep. Jason Altmire, D-McCandless, obtained a $400,000 federal Department of Justice grant for program costs. "This new center will be a place where mentors and educators can come together to make sure that children have the support that they need to reach their full potential," Mr. Altmire said in a statement. "By investing in and supporting our children now, we are helping to create a better future for our region."

A dedication ceremony for the community center will start at 11:30 a.m. Tuesday. The center is at 100 Park Ave., Natrona Heights.

Source: http://www.post-gazette.com/pg/10354/1112100-54.stm#ixzz18fN5oO7q
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