806 Western Ave, Pittsburgh, PA 15233

Letter from the President – May 2017

So what are you doing on Tuesday evening?

The May meeting of the Allegheny West Civic Council (Tuesday, May 9th at 7:30 pm, in the Calvary Church) is packed with exciting new developments for our community — including FIVE new proposals for businesses and residences on Western Avenue!

There is great serendipity in the timing of these new developments for the center of our neighborhood — coming as they do exactly 55 years (to the month) after the founding of the Allegheny West Civic Council in May 1962. All five of these new plans come to our May Membership meeting with a positive endorsement from the AW Housing & Planning Committee. They include the dramatic transformation of a former problem bar, the rehabilitation of a property neglected for decades and our first new construction of single family houses in more than a quarter century. And those new houses will rise from currently vacant lots, in an attempt to replicate the appearance of the original houses on that site — demolished more than forty years ago!

This flurry of great new vitality for our neighborhood would undoubtedly have been beyond dreaming to the dozen long-ago residents who gathered on May 24, 1962 in the Community House of Calvary Church. Their goal was to find a way to shape and direct the fate of their tiny community, faced with grand plans by powerful outsiders for transforming all of the “lower Northside” into a cloned suburban utopia. The plan that was formed that night in 1962 was recorded as a single sentence: “Don’t sit back and complain — joint collective action gets results.”

Across the many years since that proclamation, those folks — and the hundreds who have succeeded them — have taken that mantra to heart. The people of Allegheny West have worked long and hard together to determine what we want for our part of Pittsburgh, as well as what we don’t want. We have articulated that vision to others persuasively, ceaselessly laboring to attract new companions who would embrace the challenge and become part of its realization. We have aggressively (and successfully) supported those new recruits in their efforts, even as we have aggressively (and successfully) opposed those whose efforts were contrary to our cause.

It is true that Allegheny West has a reputation for being tough. That attitude was born in 1955, when a handful of our predecessors resolved to protect and forge their own community in the face of overwhelming odds. That couldn’t happen without a willingness to take a responsible position and then stand your ground. Even more fundamental was their core belief that this neighborhood already is a great place to live and work and play. And for those who would diminish or jeopardize this place, they learned how to say “NO” — to government officials, institutions, developers, speculators and all manner of interlopers. The fruits of this unwavering conviction, and the courage to defend it, could not be more clearly visible than in these new development proposals being unveiled at our May 2017 Membership meeting this Tuesday.

Why would we spend endless energy and dollars fighting the abuses of a problem bar? The answer is on Tuesday night’s agenda. Why would we buy and hold vacant land for forty years, rejecting proposals for gravel parking lots and storage yards? The answer is on Tuesday night’s agenda. Why would we spend many millions of dollars and many years of volunteer lives saving and restoring derelict and burned-out buildings, again and again? Well you get the idea…

Please join us on Tuesday May 9 at 7:30. It isn’t often that you get to witness a victory 55 years in the making.

John DeSantis
President, AWCC

AWCC Membership Meeting Agenda – May 9, 2017

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

  • Visitors
    • Councilwoman Harris’s Office
    • Mayor Peduto’s Office
    • Representative Wheatley’s Office
    • Zone One Police
    • Allegheny Commons Initiative, Update Master Plan
  • New Neighbors & Guests
  • Minutes
  • Treasurer’s Report
    • Finance Committee Volunteers Still Sought
  • Presentation of the Preservation Award
  • Membership
    • Bocce on Wednesday
    • May Mixer
    • AWCC 55th Anniversary Celebration (October 2017)
  • Ways and Means
    • Wine Tour Updates (June 2nd & 3rd)
    • Update on Five Year Plan with Calvary
    • Alleys, Axles & Ales (September 23rd
    • Christmas Christmas Candlelight House Tour (December 8th and 9th
  • Friends of Allegheny West
    • Green Space
  • Property
    • 901 Western Avenue: New Tenant (PGH Acupuncture & Massageworks)
    • 827-829 Western Avenue: Sale of Land for Construction of 2 New Houses
    • 900 Western Avenue: New Business Owner – Plans for Benjamin’s
    • 917-919 Western Avenue: New Property Owner – Plans for Shamrock/Carmi
    • 907 Western Avenue: New Property Owner – Plans for Storeroom & 2 Apartments
  • 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
    • Historic District Enforcement Issues
    • Medical Marijuana Dispensary
    • Comprehensive Guidelines for New Construction on Vacant Sites
  • Northside Leadership Conference
  • Other Business (Old & New AW Preservation Award)

Neighbor of the Year: Dr. Dan

Dr. Dan Strinkoski has been nominated as Allegheny West’s Neighbor of the Year for his tireless efforts in cleaning up the neighborhood!

He will be honored at the Northside Leadership Conference’s annual Neighbor of the Year Banquet in June. Details to come.

Congratulations Dr. Dan!

Website Updates: Neighborhood History

Home Splash ImageThe Neighborhood History section of has expanded!

As part of the 55th Anniversary of our little corner of Pittsburgh, we have been curating an informative resource on our website that aims to paint a picture of life here over the years. We have more historic home information (23 and counting thanks to the tireless efforts of Jim Wallace in collecting Carol Peterson histories), details on the formation of Allegheny West as a civic council and neighborhood concept and interviews with our friends and neighbors, both long-standing and new to the area.

Take a look ←, tell us what you think and, if you’ve not already done so, share your materials with us! House histories, old photos, etc can be dropped off at the council office at 806 Western Avenue or you can make arrangements for pick up by emailing

Allegheny West Wine & Garden Tour 2017

We’re still seeking neighbors to help house-sit, run supplies or help with food for this year’s Wine & Garden Tour. The tour will be held Friday, June 2nd, from 5:00–9:00 pm and Saturday, June 3rd, from 1:00–5:00 pm and 5:00–9:00 pm. Contact Carol Gomrick at if you are able to help.

Neighborhood Cleanup

This month’s neighborhood cleanup will take place on May 20th at 9:00 am. Meet at the AWCC office at 806 Western Avenue. This event is BYOB – bring your own broom, that is! (And gardening gloves, too!)

Contact Trish Burton with any questions: or (412) 523-9402. We’ll see you on the 20th!

Two City of Asylum Writers – and the Novels that Led to their Exile

City of Asylum (2017)

Israel Centeno & Yaghoub Yadali

Sunday, May 16th
8:00 pm

City of Asylum exiled writers-in-residence Israel Centeno (Venezuela) & Yaghoub Yadali (Iran) will be reading excerpts from the novels that led to their exiles. City of Asylum commissioned translations, and they have been published by Phoneme Media. They will be available in the City of Asylum Bookstore and soon bookstores everywhere.

Following the bilingual readings by the authors, Phoneme founder David Shook will lead a conversation with the authors about their personal experiences of exile, their sources of continuing inspiration, and what it’s like to hear their work in English.

Rituals of Restlessness
The Conspiracy

City of Asylum is honored to partner with Phoneme Media – a nonprofit media company dedicated to promoting cross-cultural understanding, connecting people and ideas through translated books and films – to bring these writers’ voices to new audiences.

Reserve Your Free Tickets

Did you know that there is a restaurant in City of Asylum @ Alphabet City? During these events, Alphabet City will be set up so that you can have dinner during the event (or simply order drinks).

Reserve a Table for Your Visit

Update on Allegheny Commons Park Maintenance

Today, representatives from the Allegheny Commons Initiative, Councilwoman Darlene Harris, DPW Director Mike Gable, DPW Superintendent Tom Paulin and myself met in the park to discuss concerns related to maintenance in the park. It was a very productive meeting with action items for all parties.

Trucks Driving on Lawns

The crew has been told not to drive the trucks off of the paths in the park. If you see this happening, please take a picture of the truck and/or write down the PW# of the truck. Then submit a 311 request with the truck PW # included. This way DPW can track the truck/driver and address the issue directly with that DPW personnel.

Grass Cutting and Trees

PPC will be coordinating volunteer events to remove the weeds around trees so that we can mulch the trees. This will allow a protective space around the trees from the lawn mowers when the grass is being cut. DPW will be providing mulch. I will be recruiting volunteers for this. Please reach out to me if you are interested.


There are many smaller scale picnics/gatherings that take place in the park that create overflowing amounts of trash. DPW will be working more closely with the Park Rangers to help enforce the permitting requirements for the park (permits must be obtained for groups  of 25 or more) and litter pick up following these gatherings and sport practices. Please continue to 311 when you see overflowing receptacles.

Lake Elizabeth

I am coordinating a volunteer event in the park scheduled for next Thursday May 11thwith a group of 30 to clean out the debris in the lake. The park foreman drained the lake for us this past weekend to allow for some time for the debris to dry up so it is easier to remove from the bottom of the lake. Following our event, DPW will power was the lake interior and refill for the season. Please contact me directly if you are interested in joining us that day. I will be in the park all day doing a variety of projects.

Playground Equipment

DPW is looking at removing the playground equipment near King school because it is deteriorating and could be a safety hazard for children. DPW is working with Councilwoman Harris/ACI/PPC and the school to relocate the playground elsewhere. The playground in West Park near the Iron Deer statue will have repairs done to it this year as well as be cleaned through a volunteer event in cooperation with DPW.


Please continue to submit 311 requests as you see the lights are out in the park. DPW is aware of the issue and working with the budget office, Councilwoman Harris/Councilman Lavelle to identify funding sources to fix the lighting issues in the park.

Dog Park

DPW will be aerating and re-seeding the dog park at some point this spring. We will spread the word via the Allegheny Commons and Allegheny Commons Dog Park Facebook pages.

Flag Pole

Forestry pruned the trees near the Maine Memorial. DPW is working to install a light near the flag pole and will then put flags up on the poles.

In an effort to support the work of the DPW, I will be organizing volunteer events to supplement their work in the park. Allegheny Commons is considered the front or back yard to many Northsiders. Please consider volunteering with the Parks Conservancy to help support the resources of DPW. Stay tuned for upcoming opportunities.

Please do not hesitate to reach out to me if you have any questions or concerns. Thank you all for your time and support of the park!

Erin Tobin
Community Outreach Coordinator

Parks Conservancy

2017 Allegheny West Preservation Awards

Submitted by Carole Malakoff

The Allegheny West Local Review Committee, along with The Allegheny West Civic Council, announce the 9th Annual Allegheny West Preservation Award. This award is presented to property owners in the Allegheny West Historic District who have completed projects over the past year which retain and restore appropriate elements of historic character and adhere to the neighborhood HRC Guidelines. Success was achieved by doing research, creating well thought-out plans, following neighborhood guidelines, and working with the neighborhood LRC and City HRC to seek advice.

The 2017 Awards Recipients

909 Western Avenue
Owner: Sally Graubarth

This was an extensive restoration of both the interior and exterior, as well as the carriage house. Sally and her architect, John Francona, worked with the LRC and the HRC to make this project an example of the highest quality of historic restoration.

The exterior work included: a new storefront and door consistent with that of the original; new entrance doors to 2nd floor living space with transom and trim; new front wood, double-hung windows including circle-top windows on the 3rd floor; new stable style carriage house doors; restoration of the carriage house dormers; cleaning and painting the brick and stone on the façade.

This project is a great addition to the Western Avenue streetface. It adds to the historic ambience of the street, contributes to the economic development of our neighborhood, and serves as an example of how restoration should be done.

To celebrate Preservation Month, the award will be presented at the May Civic Council Meeting on Tuesday, May 9th at Calvary Church, corner Beech and Allegheny Avenues. Everyone is invited to come and meet Sally.

May 9th: Pittsburgh’s Legendary Chanteuse, Etta Cox

City of Asylum (2017)

Etta Cox

Sunday, May 9th
8:00 pm

Etta CoxPowerhouse jazz/cabaret singer Etta Cox has been voted “Best Jazz Vocalist” in Pittsburgh for 8 consecutive years – and if you have ever seen her in concert, this should come as no surprise! Etta thrills audiences with her intoxicating, smooth vocals reminiscent of a bygone era.

Etta has opened for such legends as Ray Charles, Doc Severinson, and Debbie Reynolds. She has appeared on Broadway, on television and in films, co-hosted the television talk show Citylife and performed in many local theater productions at the City Theater and Pittsburgh Public Theater.

Etta is one of Pittsburgh’s “living treasures”. Don’t miss this chance to be at her City of Asylum @ Alphabet City debut!

Reserve Your Free Tickets

Did you know that there is a restaurant in City of Asylum @ Alphabet City? During these events, Alphabet City will be set up so that you can have dinner during the event (or simply order drinks).

Reserve a Table for Your Visit