Ben Avon Heights

Ben Avon Heights

Ben Avon Heights

Ben Avon Heights, sitting on a hill above the Ohio River, presents a unique residential community within Allegheny County, just nine miles from Pittsburgh, PA. This area, known for its serene landscapes and proximity to one of the bustling Pittsburgh neighborhoods, offers a perfect blend of tranquility and urban convenience, making it an appealing place for residents seeking a peaceful abode near the city.

Exploring Ben Avon Heights offers insightful glimpses into its rich history, captivating geography, and the vibrant community life that it supports. With a focus on local governance, infrastructure, and educational resources, this comprehensive guide aims to furnish readers with everything they need to know about this charming area, integrating essential aspects such as Allegheny County’s influence and its significance among Pittsburgh neighborhoods for a thorough understanding.

A Glimpse into History

Ben Avon Heights, a borough steeped in history and tradition, was officially established in 1913, but its roots trace back to the early 1900s, originating from the farms of Samuel Taylor and John Wilson. The transformation of this area began when Walter P. Fraser, a visionary from Ben Avon, acquired 84 acres of what was formerly the Taylor farm. In 1906, he established the Ben Avon Country Club and a golf course, marking the inception of a community gathering spot. However, by 1917, the country club ceased operations, paving the way for the land to be subdivided into residential plots, fostering the development of a closely-knit community.

  • Early 20th Century Developments:
    • 1906: Walter P. Fraser purchases land for the Ben Avon Country Club.
    • 1917: The country club closes, leading to residential development.
    • 1920: Shannopin Country Club opens, becoming the sole commercial property in the borough.

The community’s narrative is further enriched by personal stories and a strong sense of heritage, as highlighted by the memoir of Liz Tafel-Hurley, who recounts her grandmother’s life in Ben Avon Heights. This sense of continuity is underscored by families like the Scandretts, who, over the 20th century, owned multiple homes within the borough, illustrating the deep familial ties that bind the community. With its name translating to “Hill by the water” in Scottish, Ben Avon Heights not only offers picturesque landscapes but also a rich tapestry of history and culture that continues to thrive through generations.

Geography and Demographics

Ben Avon Heights spans approximately two square miles and is an integral part of the North Hills region. This borough, primarily residential, boasts 142 homes, a community park, and the Shannopin Country Club as its sole commercial entity. Geography-wise, it is nestled among Kilbuck Township, Ohio Township, and Ross Township, offering picturesque views and a serene environment.

  • Population Dynamics: As of the 2020 census, Ben Avon Heights had a population of 400, reflecting a density of 2,000 people per square mile. This demographic is characterized by a diverse age range, with a notable proportion of children under 18 and adults between 35 to 54 years. Interestingly, 44% of adults aged 25 and over hold professional or graduate degrees, underlining the community’s educational attainment.
  • Architectural Heritage: More than half of the borough’s homes (57%) were constructed before 1940, adding a historical charm to the neighborhood. The area’s rich history is complemented by its residents’ diverse ethnic backgrounds, with the majority identifying their ancestry as German, Irish, English, and Italian. Despite its small size, Ben Avon Heights stands out for its high income levels, low poverty rates, and a predominantly white and non-Hispanic demographic profile.

This borough, while maintaining its historical roots, offers a blend of community spirit and educational prowess, making it a unique enclave within the Pittsburgh metropolitan area.

Community and Amenities

Ben Avon Heights is not just a place to live; it’s a community rich in amenities and activities that cater to the needs and interests of its residents. From emergency services provided by the Emsworth Volunteer Fire Company, Ohio Township Police Department, and NorthWest EMS, to the vibrant community life centered around Avonworth Community Park, the area boasts a comprehensive suite of services and recreational opportunities. The park itself is a hub of activity, offering:

  • A swimming pool for cooling off during the summer months
  • Four baseball fields for local teams and recreational play
  • The Kids Kingdom playground area, a favorite among the younger residents
  • Picnic shelters and halls like Miller Hall, The Pavilion, and The Mayernik Center for community gatherings and events

Additionally, the community’s engagement is further enhanced by the Ben Avon Heights Community Club, which organizes a variety of events throughout the year, including SleepOver in the Park and Halloween in the Park, fostering a strong sense of belonging and community spirit. The geographical and social heart of the community, Ben Avon Heights Park, not only provides a playground, basketball, and tennis courts but also hosts annual events that bring the community together, such as the Easter egg hunt and Christmas Eve celebration. This blend of amenities and community-led activities makes Ben Avon Heights an exemplary model of suburban living where safety, recreation, and a sense of community thrive.

Ben Avon Heights

Local Governance and Infrastructure

In Ben Avon Heights, the local governance and infrastructure are pillars that ensure the borough’s smooth operation and high quality of life. The borough is led by a dedicated team of elected volunteers, including a mayor and a borough council, all committed to serving the community. They are pivotal in maintaining the borough’s financial health and overseeing developmental projects.

  • Governance Structure:
    • Mayor and Borough Council: Elected volunteers who oversee local governance.
    • Council-Manager Government: Councilmembers serve four-year terms, focusing on policy-making and community development.
    • Location and Contact: Boro Office, 7101 Church Avenue, Ben Avon, PA 15202; Phone: (412) 766-7704.
  • Financial Overview and Taxation:
    • Annual Budget: Approximately $500,000.
    • Real Estate Tax Rate: 7.95 mills.
    • Wage/Earned Income Tax: 0.5%.
  • Infrastructure and Development:
    • Sewer System Grants: Received two grants totaling $406,054 in 2023 for improvements.
    • Public Hearing Postponements: Zoning Ordinance Update hearing moved from February 1, 2024.
    • Observation of Holidays: Office closures on March 29, September 2, and October 14, 2024, from 9 – 10am.

These governance and financial strategies, coupled with targeted infrastructure investments, exemplify Ben Avon Heights’ commitment to fostering a thriving and sustainable community.

Education and Local Resources

Ben Avon Heights boasts a rich educational landscape, served by the Avonworth School District, which covers five communities including Ben Avon, Ben Avon Heights, Emsworth, Kilbuck, and Ohio Township. Known for its commitment to high-quality educational opportunities, the district prioritizes student needs and aims to empower them through authentic experiences, fostering creative and innovative thinkers.

Educational Institutions in Ben Avon Heights:

  • Public Schools:
    • Avonworth Primary Center: (412) 366-7171
    • Avonworth Elementary School: (412) 366-7171
    • Avonworth Middle School: (412) 366-9650
    • Avonworth High School: (412) 366-6360
  • Private and Parochial Schools:
    • Glen Montessori: (412) 766-3815
    • Montessori Children’s Community: (412) 741-8982
    • Sewickley Academy: (412) 741-2230
    • Shadyside Academy: 412-968-3000
    • Assumption School: (412) 761-7887
    • St. James School: (412) 741-5540
    • Central Catholic High School: (412) 621-8189
    • Oakland Catholic High School: (412) 682-6633
    • Cardinal Wuerl North Catholic High School: (412) 321-4823
  • Schools for Exceptional Students:
    • Sunrise School for Exceptional Students: (724) 325-1132
    • Western Pennsylvania School for the Blind: (412) 621-0100
    • Western Pennsylvania School for the Deaf: (800) 624-3323

The educational fabric of Ben Avon Heights is further enriched by the high educational attainment of its residents, with 44% of adults 25 years and older holding professional or graduate degrees. This commitment to education is mirrored in the borough’s evolving demographics, showcasing a growing younger population and a high percentage of high school graduates and those with bachelor’s degrees or higher.

As we delve into the heart and soul of Ben Avon Heights, it becomes evidently clear that this borough is more than just a dot on the map near Pittsburgh, PA; it’s a vibrant community rich in history, culture, and education. From its early 20th-century developments and geographic charm to the comprehensive governance and educational resources that cater to its residents, Ben Avon Heights represents a unique blend of past and present, providing a tranquil yet enriching living experience. The exploration reveals not just the tangible attributes like scenic landscapes and community amenities but also the intangible, such as the strong sense of belonging and heritage that permeates through its residents.

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