Spring Hill Civic League History
Founded in 1951
68 Years of Community Service
In 1951, a group of proactive neighbors gathered to incorporate as the Spring Hill Civic League. The purpose of the League was to concern itself with issues that affect the residents & businesses of Spring Hill. The group was incorporated on March 12, 1951. The Charter of the group was approved on April 19 of the same year, and the first by-laws were published in 1953. Albert Schmittlein initially led the League as its first President.
In the late 1950s until 1961, Albert Boehm served as President of the group. It was during this time that the Northview Heights housing project was built. According to older residents in the community, Northview was originally planned to extend beyond its present boundaries to Rhine and Buente Sts. The neighbors of Spring Hill/City View opposed the eminent domain proceedings affecting 75 properties in the community.
Charlie Lieberth served the community as President from 1964 through 1967. Then, in 1968, the League fell into dormancy for six years as no one filled President’s vacancy. During this time, acting Treasurer Frank Witsch of Southside Ave. held the books of the League & administered accounts payable.
In 1974, there was renewed interest, and the League was activated again. Ed Preskar of Haslage Ave. was elected President and led the League until July 1980. During Ed’s tenure, much of the current organizational structure was initiated. Blockworkers began their valuable work in 1974, the newsletter was first published in 1975, and the group acquired 501 (c) 4 status that same year. The Rockledge St. lot was purchased in September 1975 through the tremendous support of the community and was fashioned into a parklet to satisfy tax exemption on the property. During these years, the City of Pittsburgh informed the community of the closing of Engine Company #53, which was located in the Homer St. firehouse. The neighbors were promised that the building would be given over for use as a Community Center for Spring Hill residents.
From July of 1980 until November of that year, Ray Mall served as President of the group, and in November of 1980, Ron Marak, formerly of Haslage Ave., was elected President of the League. He led neighbors in opposition to the building of St. Ambrose Manor on Yetta Ave. & Rhine St. During Ron’s tenure, the group was granted permanent 501 (c) 3 status by IRS, the annual Halloween Parade was established, and the Blockwatch program was initiated.
Lorene Lofink served as President in 1984 & 1985, and Darlene Harris was elected to the position in 1986 until her resignation in 1995 to serve as a Director of the Pittsburgh School Board. During her tenure, the community was active in decision-making concerning the Spring Hill School’s reopening, which had been closed in the mid-1980s. In addition, she led neighbors in opposition to the erection of the Crown Communications tower in City View.
In November 1995, Diane Schmitt was elected to serve as President of the group. Initially, she led neighbors in opposition to a housing development planned for a cliff-side property on Zang Way. During her tenure, the community has realized the acquisition of the 1st floor of the Homer St. firehouse for community use. In March of 2000, the community approved the firehouse’s usage for the Steel City Boxing Association, a physical training, and guidance program for the community’s youth. Additionally, the community has partnered with the City of Pittsburgh and Western PA. Conservancy to develop a colorful flower garden at the intersection of Homer & Walz.
In 2006 Diane Schmitt stepped down as President, ending ten years of service at that position. Donna Allison was elected President and served for two years before resigning at the end of 2008.
In 2008 the Civic League, in the hopes of greater neighborhood participation, sought out a larger board and was rewarded with new members Eileen Back, Karen McLellan, and Pete McQuillin.
In 2009 Jackie Hoffman volunteered her services and was voted in as President.
Joan Russell was elected President in November 2010. She was a strong advocate for the community and helped get affairs in order. She gave up her post at the end of 2012.
In 2013 Bob Sobocinski was elected President. He also served as President of Steel City Boxing – which occupies out of the Homer Street firehouse.
In 2018 Bobby Wilson, born and raised on Haslage Avenue, became President. He held the seat for two years, upon which he won election to represent District 1 in the Pittsburgh City Council. He resigned from his SHCL board seat in early 2020.
Benjamin Soltesz assumed the President role in January 2020 and was officially elected to that seat in November 2020.