In case you missed it: this week’s good reads about Pennsylvania cities

     Rob Walters, a Pittsburgh riverkeeper and his dog, Rio. (Irina Zhorov/WESA)

    Rob Walters, a Pittsburgh riverkeeper and his dog, Rio. (Irina Zhorov/WESA)

    Happy Friday. We have new reads on waterfronts, land banks, and education.


    Industrial ports are evolving and thriving in Pittsburgh, Erie and Philadelphia as waterfront redevelopment makes rivers more accessible to the public.After Hurricanes Katrina and Sandy, flood insurance reform took away government subsidies and increased annual premiums. Some say Pennsylvania river towns need to have some “tough conversations” about protecting their commercial districts, schools and residential areas while balancing the cost of higher premiums. Welcome to Jersey Shore, Pennsylvania. No Snooki or “The Situation” here. This community is in a flood plain next to the Susquehanna River. 

    Want more stories on Pennsylvania’s urban waterfronts?  Check out our ongoing series.    Land Banks

    Legislation enacted in 2012 was supposed to ease the process for municipalities to acquire, manage and dispose of vacant or tax delinquent properties in Pennsylvania. By creating land banks, blighted properties could be redeveloped and reused. But getting the land banks started is taking longer than expected. Keystone Crossroads partnered with PlanPhilly to explore the holdup in Pittsburgh and Philadelphia. Bottom line — it’s complicated, but worth the effort. 

    Parks and Rec

    Following a national trend, DuBois plans to take a vacant lot next to a pizzeria and transform it into a pocket park. (The Courier-Express)Alliteration alert: From pocket, to pop-up and parklet — introducing a portable park-in-a-cart. (CityLab)


    Imagine you’re a reporter and you get to spend a year documenting a struggling school with new plans for improving discipline, recruiting dedicated staff and giving teachers more tools to help underserved students. During this year, you meet families, administrators, teachers  and follow them on their journey, recording their triumphs and frustrations. Kevin McCorry, WHYY Senior Education reporter did just that; creating a three part radio documentary Turnaround: A Year Inside a Strawberry Mansion Elementary School. Look, listen and learn. (Newsworks)Philadelphia’s Center for Advanced Manufacturing, a magnet high school for mostly minority students, plans to fill much-needed manufacturing jobs in the Philadelphia area. Doors opened Tuesday with the paint still drying on the walls of this new training center. (NextCity)


    WITF’s arts and culture desk launched a series focusing on the transformation of Harrisburg’s Midtown community. (WITF)

    State of the City: Mayor Eric Papenfuse wants to change the plan to get Harrisburg out of Act 47 and has a three point, “can do” plan.  Reporter Ben Allen spoke with Smart Talk’s Scott Lamar about the proposal. (WITF)

    It was practically a standing room only affair when Brockway residents turned out to hear about WPSU’s Our Town Project(The Courier-Express). Executive producer Greg Peterson was on hand to explain the WPSU television series, welcoming long time and new residents to participate. (WPSU)

    WESA’s Liz Reid took the “tough” assignment of exploring Pittsburgh’s possible designation as a craft beer destination. (WESA)

    Government Budgets

    On Thursday, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court heard oral arguments on Governor Wolf’s moratorium on the death penalty. At issue: can the moratorium be open-ended?

    Like many communities, Somerset County is trying to cover the funding gap created by the budget stalemate. But it’s running out of funds, so some state run agencies may need to close. (The Tribune Democrat)

    McKean County may need to get loans to maintain human services, but they are determined to “keep the doors open.” (The Bradford Era)Cities and Sports

    What if cities cared as much about civic life as they do about their professional sports teams? It certainly helps when professional athletes become engaged with their cities through philanthropy and emotional investment. (NextCity)

    Rio is hosting the 2016 Summer Olympics. The problem is, dollars to build core facilities are being invested in affluent cities and under questionable practices. (CityLab)

    Next week, we will explore how cities like State College handle massive crowds for major events. And compare it to the pope visit to Philadelphia.

    Enjoy your weekend. We. Are. Keystone Crossroads.

    Want a digest of WHYY’s programs, events & stories? Sign up for our weekly newsletter.

    Together we can reach 100% of WHYY’s fiscal year goal