806 Western Ave, Pittsburgh, PA 15233

Letter from the President – July 2017

So what are you doing on Tuesday evening?

See suggestions below.

In both July and August there will be no AWCC Membership Meeting on the second Tuesday of the month. Attendance always drops off because of vacations in these months, and everyone deserves a little break anyway. The monthly Membership Meetings will resume on Tuesday, September 12, and each second Tuesday in the months that follow.

During this summer hiatus, the Civic Council’s committees will continue to meet on their regularly scheduled days. And during this time, if you have an issue that requires action please feel free to let us know by emailing

Now back to that question about Tuesday evening: If you’re in town on the second Tuesday of July or August and find yourself longing for the excitement, friendly faces, fun, and refreshments of your regularly scheduled Civic Council meeting, don’t despair. Here are a few suggestions to get you through the night:

  1. Grab a cool refreshing beverage and sit out on the front steps. In no time at all, you’ll have an impromptu block party underway.
  2. Stroll to the Allegheny Commons for an iceball from Gus & Yia Yia’s. Have a seat on a park bench, and in no time at all you’ll have an impromptu picnic underway.
  3. Head to the corner of Western and Galveston and order a cool refreshing beverage while seated at an outdoor café table. In no time at all…
  4. Call a friend who has the misfortune of not living in Allegheny West. Invite them to visit you. Then do #1, #2, or #3. Try really hard to be kind and understanding when they keep telling you that there’s nothing like this where they live.

The Summer of 1962 was cause for ongoing concern in the community that would one day be called “Allegheny West.” The almost daily front page headlines touting the “urban redevelopment” of the entire lower Northside brought new – and dismaying – details with every edition. The familiar amenities and landmarks that this generation had known all their lives were being added to the growing list of sites that would “makeway for the new Northside.”
Far beyond the initial pronouncements of some new shopping, office, and housing structures, as the specifics began to arrive it was clear that the entire of Allegheny’s central business district was to be leveled. More than 300 buildings in total would be razed. The project was so Herculean that at the outset it was viewed as pie-in-the-sky.
But ridicule turned to shock as the “take zone” expanded to include churches, schools, theaters, houses, stores, hotels, the railroad station, Boggs & Buhl Department Store, and the revered Allegheny Market House.
All of these were fully functioning every day destinations, where thousands of residents lived, worked, played and did their weekly shopping.
But an equally horrific scourge had also arrived: real estate speculators. In the free-for-all of redevelopment, outside money began to pour in, acquiring whatever was available in the hope of being bought out at an inflated price by government acquisition. Across the lower Northside – and especially in the neighborhoods abutting the Commons – properties were being snapped up by owners who had no interest in maintaining or improving. Some, in fact, found it more cost effective to empty and board a building rather than deal with day-to-day operation. And they competed for properties against those who would locate their business or residence there. Prices were going up, and both the appearance and the viability of neighborhoods was going down.
Of course, for neighboring owners who lived or operated businesses in the vicinity this was disastrous. Everyone could only guess at which rumors were or weren’t true, and worry about whether the next sale would hit even closer to home. Along Ridge Avenue, the acquisitions by Allegheny County for a proposed college had begun. Had the neighbors been privy to the original site plans, they’d have had even more to be concerned about: an extended buildout across 20 years that would take the campus north to Western Avenue and east and west to Brighton Road and Allegheny Avenue.
On the 800 block of Brighton Road and the 900 block of North Lincoln Avenue, entire block faces of houses had already fallen to the wrecking ball – intended for “future developments” that were never to come.
Just as the neighborhood was beginning to organize itself, the immensity of the task actually was expanding dramatically. And while some were resigned to their fate, others were convinced that by banding together there was a different outcome available – although imagining what that outcome might be was becoming increasingly difficult.
John DeSantis
President, AWCC

PechaKucha Night Pittsburgh Vol 27

PechaKucha Nights are informal, fun gatherings held in more than 900 cities worldwide, where creative people share their ideas, works 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.

Tuesday, July 18 at 7:00 – 9:30 pm
City of Asylum, 40 W North Avenue
Doors open at 5:00 pm

Among the 11 local presenters will be Allegheny West’s own Brian O’Neill, author of the 2009 book The Paris of Appalachia: Pittsburgh in the 21st Century. Brian will talk about the inadvertent plug his book just got from Donald Trump and what has changed about the city since the book was written.

Arrive early for dinner or drinks at Casellua. Enjoy great food, wine and artfully curated cheese plates.

Shop and browse City of Asylum Books, an independent bookstore specializing in works in translation and world

If you have questions about PechaKucha Night or how to pronounce “PechaKucha”, please contact Greg Coll at . We look forward to packing the house!

Co-organized by Greg Coll with AIGA Pittsburgh, AIA Pittsburgh and Greater Pittsburgh Arts Council

Alleys, Axles & Ales Tour: Volunteers Needed

We’re seeking neighbors who are willing to open their homes (and garages) for the Alleys, Axles & Ales tour.

The target date is September 23. We also need volunteers who are willing to work in preparing and executing the tour. Please contact Carol Gomrick at if you are able to help.

2017 2nd Annual 4th of July Rib Cookoff

We’d like to thank all the participants in this year’s Rib Cookoff. Once again their efforts made this annual picnic a great success and one of the best foodie events in town!

This year’s participants included Tom Barbush, John Burton, Clayton Harris, Scott Mosser, John Tingue, Mariana
Whitmer and Tony Caruso.

While all the ribs were fantastic, bragging rights go to Scott Mosser for 2017. Scott will be holding onto the trophy for 12 months but will bring it back for 2018’s winner! If you have a great recipe that you’d like to enter next year, please remember that the neighborhood will provide the ribs! What have you got to lose?

Letter from the President – June 2017

So what are you doing on Tuesday evening? Our May Civic Council membership meeting saw plenty of both new and old (only in terms of regular attendance) faces — all gathering to get the latest scoop on the many new projects about to get underway in our community. We will all be getting together again on June 13th at 7:30 pm to find out what’s going on. This is where you get the straight story and ask questions, where you can bring your local issues or problems, and most importantly where you and your neighbors decide what we’re going to do about them.

Of course, praise for work well done — and ideas for the future—are always welcome too. At our June meeting we’ll be saying “THANK YOU” to the great many homeowners, tour guides, organizers and volunteers — and, of course, chairperson Carol Gomrick — who made our annual Wine & Garden Tour last weekend a rousing success!

This monthly meeting is where and when we make decisions about our neighborhood — decisions that, in ways both small and large, will affect you. And we always have a good time socializing and enjoying refreshments while we’re at it.

Everyone is welcome – second Tuesday of each month, 7:30 pm, in the Calvary Church social hall, corner of Beech and Allegheny (use the Beech Avenue entrance). The meeting’s usually over by 9:00. It’s also a great way for newer folks to meet your neighbors and get involved! We hope to see you on Tuesday evening.

On June 25th of 1962, the second organizing meeting was held for the group that would become the Allegheny West Civic Council. Held in the social room of Calvary United Methodist Church — where the AWCC has met ever since — this session focused on identifying what types of civic action were possible, and how best to be effective as an agent for positive change in a world that seemed hellbent on eradicating the tiny community.
Problems with liquor licenses in the neighborhood were a major concern, as was a perception that a large
number of properties generally appeared to be rundown. While those attending the meeting were largely neighborhood residents and local businesspeople, many of those whose properties were problematic were absentee owners without a direct local presence — some just waiting to be bought out for “redevelopment.”
Of particular note was a discussion regarding “state of mind,” in which it was agreed that there was a distinct difference between those who “cared” about the community — now and in the future — and those who simply used it without regard, often causing damage in the process.
Concluding that the solution to this was two fold — educate those who are willing to learn, regulate those who aren’t — a twin path was adopted. The new organization and its members would take “…an objective look at the neighborhood and your own property. Assess assets and liabilities. What are available resources?” At the same time, they would initiate contact with the City Planning Department and local officials to solicit assistance in changing the direction.
Already by this second meeting, there were names in attendance that will be familiar to long-time Allegheny West residents: Shelton, Pusateri, Porter, Smith, Floyd, Davin, Gallagher, Gilbert, Dickenson, Watson, Wirth, Bianconi, Vonfeld, Hite, Johnson, Collins. At this earliest stage, it would have been impossible for these folks to imagine that for some of them the battle that they were undertaking would last thirty or forty years — literally the rest of their lives.
John DeSantis
President, AWCC

AWCC Membership Meeting Agenda – June 13, 2017

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

  • Visitors
    • Councilwoman Harris’s Office
    • Zone One Police
    • Pittsburgh Parks Conservancy
  • New Neighbors & Guests
  • Minutes
  • Treasurer’s Report
    • Finance Committee Progress Report
  • Membership
    • Bocce on Wednesday
    • June Mixer
    • Fourth of July Street Picnic
    • AWCC 55th Anniversary Celebration (October 7, 2017)
  • Ways and Means
    • Wine Tour Recap
    • Update on Five Year Plan with Calvary
    • Alleys, Axles & Ales (September 23rd
    • Christmas Candlelight House Tour (December 8th and 9th
  • Friends of Allegheny West
    • Green Space
  • Property
  • Housing and Planning
    • Trucks Through the Neighborhood
    • Stadium Events: Parking and Traffic
    • MCC: Blocks bounded by Western, Allegheny, Ridge, Bridge
    • Western Avenue Revitalization
    • Light of Life: Ridge Avenue Project
    • Film Guidelines
    • Expansion of Historic District (LRC Report)
    • Historic District Enforcement Issues (old cases)
    • Medical Marijuana Dispensary
    • Comprehensive Guidelines for New Construction on Vacant Sites
    • Sale of 827 Western Avenue
  • Northside Leadership Conference
  • Other Business (Old & New)

Open Streets Pittsburgh Coming to the Northside

On Sunday, June 25th, beginning at 9:00 am, Open Streets will be coming to the Northide! OpenStreets provides traffic-free streets for various types of outdoor activities: walking, biking, skating, etc. And you can attend any number of wellness events from salsa to yoga! The June route will take you from the West End, through the Northside before ending downtown. For more information, and to see the schedule of events and route, visit

Alleys, Axles & Ales Tour: Chairperson Sought

We’re seeking a neighbor/neighbors who can volunteer to oversee the Second Annual Alleys, Axles & Ales tour. The target date is September 23rd. In the short term, we need someone to start seeking cars, soliciting car clubs, and establishing a list of volunteer homes. Please contact Carol Gomrick at if you are able to help.

Babb Gives Back in a Big Way!

Babb, Inc. on Ridge Avenue once again participated in a “Day of Caring” on May 23, 2017, allowing about 22 employees to care for the AW parklet at Brighton Road and Western Avenue. These enthusiastic colleagues worked hard to help Diane Caruso and Trish Burton begin to implement a long-term plan for the garden. Twenty-five bags of weeds, overgrown foliage, tree prunings and trash were gathered that morning. Many perennials were re-planted in different areas, including a grouping of hosta varieties that now ring the tree. Flats of multi-colored annuals were then planted in the beds and in tree wells along Western Avenue.

Babb Gardening

Thank you, Babb employees: We couldn’t have done it without you!

July 4 Rib Cook Off

Thanks to everyone that came out for the Memorial Day picnic. It was another great success! I wanted to remind all the “smokers” in the neighborhood that the 2nd Annual Allegheny West Rib Cook Off will coincide with the 4th of July neighborhood picnic. Dust off your favorite BBQ sauce recipes and secret wood selections, and get ready to face off against your neighbors. Good news… Last year’s winner, Tom Barbush, will be sidelined in an effort to make things a little easier for the rest of us!

Please feel free to give me a call with any questions. Scott: (216) 832-1299