Growing Greener bond vote gets support of 10,000 Friends of Pennsylvania

10,000 Friends of Pennsylvania joins state officials, labor leaders to urge voters to say 'Yes' to Growing Greener Bond question...

PITTSBURGH, May 13, 2005 (PRNewswire) -- One of the developers of Pittsburgh's largest residential development since World War II joined with state and local officials, labor leaders, environmental groups and conservation organizations Friday to encourage residents to support a $625 million "Growing Greener" bond referendum on the May 17 primary election ballot. The bond will help to address some of the state's most pressing environmental problems, ensure a higher quality of life for residents and enhance the economic competitiveness of Pennsylvania.

Mark Schneider, president and managing partner of The Rubinoff Co., joined Department of Community and Economic Development (DCED) Secretary Dennis Yablonsky, United Steelworkers (USW) International President Leo Gerard, Allegheny County Chief Executive Dan Onorato and John Oliver (R), former secretary of the Department of Conservation and Natural Resources (DCNR) at a news conference at Summerset at Frick Park, five miles from downtown Pittsburgh. Funding through Growing Greener programs was key to the environmental restoration necessary to transform the 240-acre former slag pile from a brownfield into a vibrant neighborhood, which eventually will feature more than 700 homes.

"Growing Greener is about public-private partnerships, and this project could not have happened without that kind of leveraging," said Schneider, a member of the board of directors of 10,000 Friends of Pennsylvania. "Growing Greener funds leveraged a $5.9 million U.S. Army Corps of Engineers grant to clean up Nine Mile Run, which flows through the site, and helped pay for environmental cleanup and remediation of the site. Growing Greener was the glue that got this together."

And when the project is complete, Summerset Land Development Associates and the Urban Redevelopment Authority of Pittsburgh will deed 130 of the 240 acres to the adjacent city-owned Frick Park. The result, a common good, is another long-lasting intent of Growing Greener.

"Having a dedicated resources program to invest in open space and park preservation and watershed protection leverages the opportunities to rebuild communities and create residential density where we need it," Schneider said.

DCED Secretary Yablonsky and USW International President Gerard stressed that the bond initiative is vital to keep Pennsylvania thriving both environmentally and economically, ensuring a higher quality of life that will help the state win the race for new business development.

"Governor Rendell has focused on providing Pennsylvania communities with the necessary resources as they strive to invigorate their economies and neighborhoods," DCED Secretary Yablonsky said. "This initiative will fund programs that will help to clean up our environment and revitalize older townships, boroughs and cities. It is essential to go beyond political boundaries and work together to ensure the future health and vitality of Pennsylvania communities that in turn will attract private sector investment and create family-sustaining jobs."

"USW has a long history in Pittsburgh, and we're throwing our endorsement behind Growing Greener II to help secure the future here, too," USW International President Gerard said. "Make no mistake about it: This bond initiative is about more than just the environment -- it is also a way for us to make sure our Commonwealth thrives economically and competes globally, and it is a way for us to make Pennsylvania more attractive for workers, families and businesses. We have a strong workforce here, and we want to keep them here. That means ensuring a better quality of space for residents."

Only days remain before voters decide on the initiative -- one of the single largest investments in Pennsylvania's future.

In acknowledging his strong support for Growing Greener, former Secretary Oliver said, "Since 1999, I've seen firsthand how the original Growing Greener program has cleaned up our rivers and streams, funded repairs to our state parks and helped eliminate acid mine drainage." Oliver, who also serves as co- chairman of the Vote YES for Growing Greener Committee (www.votegrowinggreener.org), added: "Each one of us now has the opportunity to extend these real environmental benefits to more areas of the state by voting 'yes' on the Growing Greener ballot question May 17."

"The Growing Greener initiative gives us the opportunity to enhance and invest in our parks, trails and other greenspaces," Allegheny County Chief Executive Onorato said. "Approving the Growing Greener ballot question allows us to take a proactive step toward revitalizing our neighborhoods and improving the quality of life for our residents."

The $625 million bond issue, which passed with overwhelming bipartisan support from the Legislature, will protect working farms; preserve natural areas and open spaces; clean up rivers and streams; take on serious environmental problems at abandoned mines and contaminated industrial sites, shore up key programs that are dangerously short of funds, improve our state parks; enhance local recreational needs; repair fish hatcheries and other habitat-related facilities; and revitalize communities across the Commonwealth.

Schneider urged the guests assembled at Summerset on Friday to vote "yes" on the bond referendum question May 17. "Because, if we have the resources to create these kinds of communities, then we can relieve the pressure on our open spaces and farmland."

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In related news, see:
-- "Franklin County Meeting, Hearing Set On Water Resources Management and Planning Under Act 220"
-- "Cumberland County Meeting, Hearing Set on Water Resources Management and Planning Under Act 220"
-- "Pa. makes grants available for innovative water, wastewater technology projects"
-- "Penn., Del., hold joint meeting on Delaware River watershed management"
-- "Penn. DEP announces nearly $500,000 in Source Water Protection grants"
-- "Ohio, Penn. plan joint meeting on Ohio River watershed management"
-- "PennFuture applauds $625M environmental restoration, conservation bond"
-- "PENNVEST approves $100 million for water projects"

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