info@alleghenywest.org
806 Western Ave, Pittsburgh, PA 15233

Letter from the President – November 2018

As this month we will be electing a new slate of officers to serve the AWCC in the coming year, it’s a good time to pay attention to the single most distinctive aspect of our small but mighty community organization. Among the City of Pittsburgh’s 88 neighborhoods, nearly all of them have a civic organization which attempts to serve the needs of those who live and work there. Allegheny West is distinguished by having one of the oldest, most effective, and most consistently stable of these.

When our Nominating Committee meets each year to assemble a proposed slate of officers and committee chairpersons for the following year, the task can be formidable. In some city neighborhoods, there are more than 10,000 residents – that’s a considerably larger pool of prospective volunteers than our tiny population of roughly 400. And yet, year after year, we not only have folks who are willing to serve – they routinely do so as if it were their full-time paying job. Donating their time and talent to their neighbors, they embrace the opportunity to continue moving us forward.

Many decades ago, AWCC created an organizational structure that includes two-year term limits for all offices. This creates challenges in finding volunteers of course, when every office has to turn over at least every other year. But it also prevents president-for-life-type dynasties that can often plague small groups. And most importantly, it forces AWCC to constantly be welcoming and developing new leadership from throughout the community. Most of our new officers for 2019 were not even in Allegheny West ten years ago; some not five years ago. That is a VERY healthy sign for any neighborhood organization.

At the same time, the core of our institutional memory is the large number of long-time members – many of whom have served as officers in the past – who show up for every meeting to make sure that we stay on track. The continued commitment of these active mentors makes it possible for new leadership to comfortably move ahead without fear of making critical missteps. These Members are a living blueprint of what we’re doing and why we’re doing it.

When folks from other community organizations look at Allegheny West and its many successes, they frequently ask how we manage to do this so well – year after year, decade after decade. The answer is anything but simple. We have been blessed for many decades with an amazing stream of volunteers who step up as newcomers, serve admirably and often in multiple positions across the years, and then remain committed to assuring that their successors have strong support and guidance. Our greatest blessing is a small but dedicated band of devoted neighbors who make their community a lifelong priority. Next time you see one of them, tell them “Thank You!”

John DeSantis
President, AWCC

AWCC Membership Meetings – October 9, 2018

Calvary United Methodist Church, 971 Beech Ave
Tuesday, November 13th at 7:30 pm

  • Visitors
    • Councilwoman Harris’s Office
    • Mayor Peduto’s Office
    • Representative Wheatley’s Office
    • Zone One Police
    • Pittsburgh Parks Conservancy
  • New Neighbors & Guests
  • Minutes
  • Treasurer’s Report
  • Membership
  • Ways and Means
    • 2018 Alleys, Axles & Ales (September 29) – Final Report
    • Christmas Candlelight House Tour (December 7-8)
  • Friends of Allegheny West
  • Property
  • Housing and Planning
    • Allegheny Commons Proposed Implementation Plan
    • CCAC New Building: Ridge at Brighton
    • Western Avenue Revitalization, Electric
    • Light of Life Ridge Avenue Project
    • Expansion of Historic District
    • Historic District Enforcement Issues (old cases)
    • Comprehensive Guidelines for New Construction on Vacant Sites
    • Airbnb Issues/Impacts on AW
    • Railroad Bridge Replacements, Double Stack Train Impacts
  • Northside Leadership Conference
  • Nominating Committee
    • Election of Officers for 2019
  • Other Business (Old & New)

Holiday Concert at Holmes Hall

The Renaissance City Winds return to Allegheny West on Saturday, November 24th, offering their annual presentation of beautiful music in the elegant ballroom of Holmes Hall on Brighton Road.

The program of classical chamber music, performed as intended in a setting much more intimate than a concert hall, will also include holiday selections and other pieces which paint musical pictures, surrounded by the art and architecture of Victorian America.

For more than forty years, the Renaissance City Winds have brought the world’s finest chamber music compositions to life in both live concerts and widely acclaimed recordings. Their annual performance at Holmes Hall is followed by an artists reception and special visit to the antique toy train museum on the upper floors of the mansion. This year’s event will also mark the 150th birthday of Holmes Hall itself, whose builder Letitia Caldwell Holmes purchased the property facing the Allegheny Commons in November of 1868.

The November 24th concert will begin at 8:00 pm, and tickets are available online at rcwinds.org or by phone at (412) 681-7111. Regular concert prices are $20, seniors are $15 and students are $10.

Thanks All Around

Submitted by Trish Burton

Thanks to Diane and Tony Caruso and to Carol Gomrick for helping me last Saturday to pull out the parklet annuals and prepare the garden for next spring’s planting. Hot coffee from Mayfly Market on Arch Street helped us battle the cold and rain!

A special thanks to Tony Caruso for all of the help he’s provided this year to beautify Western Avenue: digging up and transplanting shrubs and grasses; wrestling with broken hoses; hauling and spreading many bags of mulch; bagging huge amounts of debris — and remembering to drag those bags to the curb on Sunday nights for trash collection!

And we can’t forget the constant care that Dr. Dan provides each week so that we have much less litter on all of our streets. Thank you, Dan!

Looking forward to seeing you all in the spring when we begin work again on the neighborhood green spaces.

Allegheny West Christmas Tour – Help Needed

Submitted by Carol Gomrick

Save the Date!

The annual AWCC Christmas Tour will be held on December 7th and 8th. Please consider putting your home on the tour – we are still in need of two houses. If you’re willing and able, kindly contact Carol Gomrick at carolgomrick@gmail.com.

Important Dates Leading into the 2018 Tour

Wednesday November 14th | 7:00 pm
Christmas Tour General Meeting | 940 W North Avenue

Saturday, December 1st | 9:00 am
Swag bundling / Hanging | Cathy Serventi & Gene Wilson’s house at 851 Beech Avenue
(Enter via Dounton Way.)

Friday, December 7th and Saturday, December 8th
The Tour

Reminder

Beech Avenue will be closed during the tour. Residents can park at the lower Babb, Inc. Parking lot starting at 4:00 pm for off-street parking.

Volunteers Needed

TOUR GUIDES
Doug Sprague is leading the charge to sign up tour guides. Please reach out to Doug (doug.osrg@gmail.com) with questions. Please consider signing up for a shift (or three)!

TRAIN TOUR
We are in need of train volunteers for Friday, December 7th and Saturday, December 8th. If interested, please contact Cecile Canales (ccanales2@comcast.net) or sign up at http://goo.gl/M5A4Km

CHURCH VOLUNTEERS
Help with crowd and tour control. Contact Brandon Williams: brandonpwilliams@hotmail.com

RUNNERS
Deliver meals and assist homeowners with any needs. (Contact Carol)

SET-UP
Set up and take down luminaria at the homes that are on tour. (Contact Carol)

Letter from the President – October 2018

Know what a MILLENNIAL is? Broadly defined as folks in their 20s and 30s, this large young segment of the population is being chased by every community and business in America. They are recognized correctly as the future: those who will bring vitality and shape the course of the nation across the next 50 years. The most popular yardstick of success among American municipalities is currently their ability (or inability) to attract this critical next generation of residents.

So imagine our delight in learning that IN ALL OF PENNSYLVANIA, the Allegheny West and Manchester zip code 15233 is second only to Lawrenceville (15201) in attracting millennial residents between 2011 and 2016 – increasing our share by 41.5% during that time. Our Zip Code is now 49% Millennial, with 644 as of 2016!

What we have in Allegheny West is exactly what these folks are seeking, and that is not by accident. Across more than half a century, the AWCC and its members have focused intensely on creating a neighborhood which preserved and enhanced its architectural and historic heritage, provided outstanding quality of life for those who live here, and a pleasant balance of local business and community amenities to serve those residents. From the beginning, the strategy was simple: if you build it, they will come. They have, and they continue to do so in increasing numbers.

But as far as we’ve progressed, we certainly have plenty more to do.

Far too much of our neighborhood is vacant land, where surface parking lots generate enough money as an amenity for suburbanites on just ten days a year to prevent new homes and businesses from being built on those sites instead. Replacing the impacts of empty asphalt, congested traffic, and bad fan behavior with hundreds of new neighbors, new amenities, and much needed new tax revenue for our City continues to be a long awaited priority.

Inappropriate and disruptive uses continue to impact their neighbors, important buildings continue to deteriorate in the hands of unconcerned absentee owners, and the lure of a quick buck continues to attract speculators whose greed is conveniently oblivious to how their neighbors are affected. All of these require consistent and aggressive vigilance, as well as progressive development to counter them.

Staying on mission has always been a challenge – none of these issues is new. However, Allegheny West has always been extraordinarily effective at persistently overcoming all of those and more – just as we will continue to do going forward.

The Millennials have voted with their feet. And that’s a sure sign that we’ve been doing a lot right!

John DeSantis
President, AWCC

AWCC Membership Meetings – October 9, 2018

Calvary United Methodist Church, 971 Beech Ave
Tuesday, October 9th at 7:30 pm

  • Visitors
    • Councilwoman Harris’s Office
    • Mayor Peduto’s Office
    • Representative Wheatley’s Office
    • Zone One Police
    • Pittsburgh Parks Conservancy
  • New Neighbors & Guests
  • Minutes
  • Treasurer’s Report
  • Membership
  • Ways and Means
    • Showcase Wine Event (September 15) – Report
    • 2018 Alleys, Axles & Ales (September 29) – Report
    • Christmas Candlelight House Tour (December 7-8)
  • Friends of Allegheny West
    • Clean Up
  • Property
  • Housing and Planning
    • Allegheny Commons Proposed Implementation Plan
    • CCAC New Building: Ridge at Brighton
    • Western Avenue Revitalization, Electric
    • Light of Life Ridge Avenue Project
    • Expansion of Historic District
    • Historic District Enforcement Issues (old cases)
    • Comprehensive Guidelines for New Construction on Vacant Sites
    • Airbnb Issues/Impacts on AW
    • Railroad Bridge Replacements, Double Stack Train Impacts
  • Northside Leadership Conference
  • Nominating Committee
    • Proposed Slate November Election
  • Other Business (Old & New)

Discussion on the Allegheny Commons Master Plan 2018 Update

Submitted by Tim Zinn

The Housing and Planning Committee has identified several areas of concern in the 2018 Allegheny Commons Master Plan. Although this topic has been discussed at past general membership meetings, the committee would like to revisit these concerns at the October 9th meeting in order to form a consensus opinion for submission to the Pittsburgh Parks Conservancy. The committee has identified the following concerns with the current master planning document:

West Commons and the Grove

  • The introduction of a “water feature” in the historic location of the West Commons fountain — we continue to advocate that the original fountain be restored. We will not support a wet play area, splash pool, or bog area.
  • Family sized shelter to be constructed in place of center tennis court.
  • Expansion of the play area–we agree that the existing play area is in need of drainage improvements.
  • Introduction of meadow plantings that will diminish the lawn feature of the park, which has been, since its inception, an important character-defining feature of the commons.

North West Commons and Lake Elizabeth

  • Additions of plantings inside the border of Lake Elizabeth
  • Lowering of water level of Lake Elizabeth
  • Storm water management of street water runoff discharging into the park including into Lake Elizabeth.
  • Construction of new Lake Elizabeth pavilion at the south corner of the lake with amenities such as a cafe. There should be no destination restaurants in the park. If a pavilion is to be constructed, it should be in the historic location of the Lake Elizabeth boathouse, which was between Lake Elizabeth and the Aviary, and should be a faithful reconstruction of that building.

PechaKucha Night Pittsburgh at Alloy 26

Submitted by Greg Coll

Co-organized by our own Greg Coll in collaboration with AIA Pittsburgh, AIGA Pittsburgh and Greater Pittsburgh Arts Council, PechaKucha Nights are informal, fun gatherings held in more than 1,000 cities worldwide, where creative people share their ideas, work, and thoughts in a 20×20 format; a presentation style with 20 images that advance automatically for 20 seconds each, as the presenter talks along with the images.

  • Thursday, October 11, 2018 – Doors open at 6:00 pm. Presentations begin at 6:30 pm. The event normally ends by 8:00 pm.
  • $15 admission includes food and open bar!
  • Tickets are available on site on event night or purchase in advance at aiapgh.ticketleap.com.

Our 10 presenters are (maybe you know some of them): Phyllis Kim, Claudia Berlinski, Charles Rosenblum, Kirsten Compitello + Group, Doug Dean, Jan Loney, Mary Cvetan, Julie Mallis, Mark Ramdarass, Rob Pfaffmann. Each will be presenting on a unique topic of their choice, so be ready for a night of surprises! Make sure you purchase your tickets, which include food and drink, for this event at Alloy 26!

Ground-to-Glass Showcase Event: Thank You!

Submitted by Carol Gomrick

Sincerest thanks and gratitude on behalf of Allegheny West Civic Council and Deb Mortillaro of Dreadnought Wine for all who shared a wonderful celebration of Eberle wines in the magnificent Holmes Hall on September 15th.

If you would like a chance to Meet Gary Eberle in person, he will be in Pittsburgh for a dinner at The Carlton on October 23rd (The Carlto: 412-391-4099). Contact The Carlton directly to make reservations. Dreadnought will also be having a casual meet and greet with Gary during his October visit so watch for this on the Palate Partners class schedule calendar: palatepartners.com.