Residents across W.Pa. working to improve communities’ appearance, safety

For years, Ayanna Lee-Davis felt a pang of melancholy almost every time she passed by the weed-ridden, garbage-strewn swath of abandoned land blighting the curve of road that leads to the heart of Perry South in Pittsburgh’s North Side.

It had pained the lifelong North Sider, 42, to watch her community “go from a place where families united and upkeep of property was important,” to an increasingly disjointed neighborhood plagued by unmaintained, empty lots.

So Lee-Davis, a real estate attorney, decided to do something about it.

With a $3,000 budget and guidance provided by Larimer-based GTECH Strategies, Lee-Davis secured permission to build a small garden, seating area and stone-lined gravel pathway on the city-owned parcel at Holyoke and Drum streets. Through social media and printed fliers, she galvanized 20 neighbors to pitch in between May and October. Adults arrived with weed trimmers to clear brush and shovels to lay gravel, while children painted tire planters and decorated a colorful array of wooden posts.