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

Letter from the President – May 2015

I think I’m going to get a t-shirt made that says “I go to meetings, so you don’t have too.” – (maybe all the Board officers need a tag line?). And every time I go to a meeting that I think turns out to be a waste of time, I get to meet someone doing something really cool. At a GTECH meeting about neighborhood grants that I attended to see if our neighborhood would qualify for something, I found that Bridget Little from Manchester is picking up where Dr. Jean left off: continuing her work to make that area safer and prettier for all the folks coming off the train and into the Northside neighborhoods. I’m hoping she can make it to one of our neighborhood meetings to talk about the project some more. In the meantime, for the folks who were encouraging us to add the Cassatt Garden to our monthly clean ups, Bridget has a website set-up where you can volunteer to help: marycassattgarden.com. We’ll keep the monthly clean-ups focused on areas actually in Allegheny West for now, although we’re happy to support efforts all over the Northside.

Speaking of efforts all over the Northside. At the most recent Buhl Foundation meeting, I ran into Annette Trunzo, who – it turns out – is the leader of the northside-wide group that is tackling litter. She’s done an incredible amount of research already on all sorts of urban design questions around which signage and receptacles are the most successful. Considering that Allegheny West just got a huge grant ($13,000) from Councilwoman Harris, at least part of which is intended for new trash cans of our very own, it was really serendipitous timing. If you’re interested in helping Annette out, let me know and I’ll put you in touch. The committee is putting together a plan to request funding from the Buhl Foundation.

Finally, while I’m in general happy to “spare” folks from meetings, we still need to have a quorum at the Membership Meetings to make decisions and get things done! This month, the committee chairs will be handing out a budget proposal to be voted on next week. Think of it as “shopping”, not budgeting. My personal feeling is that a budget is one of the most public signals of what an organization values and what they want to accomplish for the year. The more people that have input into the process the stronger the organization will be!

Catherine Serventi
President, AWCC

2015 Historic Preservation Awards

The Allegheny West Civic Council along with the Allegheny West Local Review Committee announces the 7th Annual Neighborhood Preservation Awards. These awards are presented to property owners in Allegheny West who have done projects over the past year, used elements of historic preservation and adhered to the neighborhood guidelines to renovate their buildings. These property owners researched their projects and went through the Historic Review process to achieve their success.

The 2015 Awards Recipients

825 Western Avenue

Neighbor: Nick Mastros

This building was the local VFW for many years and stood vacant for the last 3. The project included repointing and cleaning the brick; repairing/replacing and repainting all wood trim; painting the decorative metals at the cornice spires; replacing the roof, downspouts and gutters; installing new wood double hung windows on the 2nd and 3rd floors; and restoring the original front doors and installing them in their openings with the original jambs and trim.

857 Western Avenue

Neighbor: John DeSantis

This building was originally a 1905 industrial building, the Pioneer Paint Co. and later, in the mid-Twentieth century, became a gas station. The property underwent a complete rehab to an office building and garden space. The concrete building walls were exposed and polished. A historic cornice was added around the structure. The garage doors were replaced with faux carriage house style doors. Brick sills and headers were added. A brick retaining wall and wrought iron fence were added around the property and plantings were installed.



These projects greatly add to the historic ambience of the Western Avenue streetface, contribute to the economic development of our neighborhood and enhance the quality of life in Allegheny West.  To celebrate Preservation Month, the awards will be presented at the Membership Meeting of the Allegheny West Civic Council on Tuesday, May 12th at 7:30pm at Calvary United Methodist Church, corner of Beech and Allegheny Avenues.

Neighbor of the Year – 2015

The Neighbor of Year awards will presented at the Northside Leadership Conference Dinner on June 11, 2015.  If you’re interested in attending (and it’s fun!) tickets will be available soon from the Northside Leadership Conference, so save the date.

Last membership meeting we, the nominating committee, nominated Nick Smerker as this year’s neighbor of the year.  It’s never an easy decision since so many people do such great work on the neighborhood’s behalf.

Here’s the bio that will be published in program for the NSLC Annual Dinner:

Nick SmerkerNick moved to Allegheny West several years ago and noticed right away that alleghenywest.org needed to be overhauled and cheerfully volunteered. He spent months meeting with our neighbors to find out how they were hoping to use our community website. Once we had a basic structure set up, he patiently worked with many different stakeholders on creating useful content. The result is a beautiful, modern website that still manages to highlight the historic nature of the neighborhood. We’re even more grateful that he’s continued the hard work of maintaining the site, even adding new features as we continue to find new ways of using it.

When he is not fixing the internet presence for the AWCC, Nick works for Education Technology Services at Penn State University as a traveling multimedia consultant. His role with Media Commons takes him to spaces located at Commonwealth campuses throughout western Pennsylvania and he engages him with faculty and students as they produce digital media.

When not traveling for the University, Nick spends his time working on a many freelance projects, including various roles at Signum University, an online liberal arts initiative he helped found in the summer of 2011.  You can check out some examples of his recent work at: alleghenywest.org, theparadorinn.com or kentuckknob.com.

Above & Beyond

Gene and Fran have both been working diligently through the 311 line to try and get the street lights back on on Beech Avenue. (We’re setting up a pool for which day the week of the Wine Tour the City decides to tear up the street.)

Carl & Cecile and Deb & Doug got up an insanely early time to host the neighborhood cheerers for the Marathon. Thanks to everyone who helped out.

Our insurance agent Megan & Scott from Babb Insurance spent a Friday afternoon scrambling to set up parking for the folks displaced by the marathon. Thanks to Hal for his suggestion that we should look for parking – he’s looking out for folks.

Talk about above and beyond…Deb and Trish have been helping out home owners on tour with actual gardening, along with all the Tour arrangements!

If you’d like to recognize a neighbor who went above-and-beyond for you or the neighborhood this month please send a note to president@alleghenywest.org or give Cathy a call at (412) 418-2027 and we’ll make sure they’re recognized in the Gazette.

Membership Activities for May

May 15th: the Mixer will be an Allegheny West Art Show and Party at 832 Western Avenue, 6:30 pm. Dennis Bergovin suggested having an art show featuring Allegheny West artists and their artist friends.  Linda Iannotta offered to organize the food and everyone will bring their own beverage of choice.  If you have art that you want to exhibit contact Dennis at (412) 323-0539 for details about submission.  The rest of the neighborhood is invited to come, eat drink and enjoy the art.

May 25th: the Memorial Day Block Party, first street party of the summer.  Mark your calendars, join the fun and get better acquainted with your neighbors.

Farmers Market

You don’t have to leave the city limits to buy farm-fresh vegetables: Visit the Farmers Market in East Park, along Cedar Avenue. You can find farm-fresh fruits, vegetables, meats, cheese, baked goods and flowers. Take advantage of this wonderful community asset in our Commons. The Market begins May 15 and is open from 3:30 to 7:30 pm.

The Paris of Appalachia:  A Tour and Tasting in the Homes & Gardens of Old Allegheny

Friday, June 5 and Saturday, June 6 from 5:00-9:00pm
Saturday, June 6 from 12:30-4:30pm

We’re well on our way for our summer fundraising event…

It’s a home and garden tour. It’s a wine tasting. It’s an entire evening of great food and entertainment.

This year our tour will be highlighting France and featuring both red and white regional French wines, hors d’oeuvres paired to complement those wines, cheese tastings at seven homes and gardens in our neighborhood. This year we are having all the tours gather together at not only the beginning of the tour at John DeSantis’ but also at the end for a wine and chocolate pairing at Jim Wallace’s!  We have invited a wine specialist to educate guests, guides and homeowners about wine tasting.  Our tour guides will be pointing out French Second Empire influences throughout the neighborhood.

Tickets, $70 each, are now on sale on our website or by calling 1-888-71-TICKETS, M-F from 9am-9pm.  Tickets are limited to 75 on each of the three tours (a total of 225 tickets), and only about 90 remain, so get the word out to friends, relatives and co-workers to purchase them now.

Homes on Tour

  • John DeSantis – Brighton Road
  • Cathy Serventi and Gene Wilson – 800 block Beech Avenue
  • Brian O’Neill and daughters – 800 block Beech Avenue
  • Howard and Shirley Brockenbek – 900 block Beech Avenue
  • Doug Lucas – 900 block Beech Avenue
  • Jim Wallace – 800 block N Lincoln Avenue

Volunteer Opportunities

Our neighborhood cooks and bakers who have volunteered to make hors d’oeuvres to serve at one stop on the tour.  If you can help them in their efforts in creating 225 appetizers — you just need to follow their instructions — please let us know as soon as possible. We need volunteers to help the homeowners with food prep, serving, pouring wine and clean up. Please let us know if we can count on you for one, two or all three tours. It’s a lot of fun to help with this event — and you’re invited to our volunteer party on Saturday!  We need new and creative ideas for publicity for the event. Let us know as  soon as possible if you know of a place of business who will hang our flyers or a website where we should list our event (gratis!). Flyers are available for you to take to work, too—let us know how many you need.

So …… please let us know how you can contribute by contacting Trish Burton (tours@alleghenywest.org)

Yard Debris Special Collection – Spring 2015

The Department of Public Works Bureau of Environmental Services will be collecting yard debris from all residents in a special curbside collection on Saturday, May 16th, 2015.

The following yard waste resources will be accepted during collection:

  • Leaves
  • Branches (4 inch diameter or less)
  • Brush
  • Grass

Residents should place yard debris at curbside location and recycling/refuse pick up spots before 6:00 am on May 16th.

Bagged debris should be in paper bags weighing less than 35 pounds. Bundled debris should be bound with fiber twine or natural rope. Branch lengths should not exceed five feet.

Please Note: Crews will not collect plastic bags, metal, wire, rocks, blocks, bricks, soil, dirt, gravel, glass or plastic. Yard waste found not meeting collection guidelines will be left at the curb.

For more information, visit the Bureau of Environmental Services website.

Questions should be directed to the Bureau of Environmental Services: (412) 255-2773 or (412) 255-2631

Free Tickets for Northsiders: The Mousetrap

The Mousetrap

Presented by Prime Stage Theatre
May 10 & 17 | 2:30 PM

Murder Most Foul…

A murder at Monkswell Manor. Who will be next? Major Metcalf, the neurotic Christopher Wren, the unpleasant Mrs. Boyle, the mysterious Miss Casewell, the unexpected guest Mr. Paravicini, or the young couple Mollie and Giles Ralston? As everyone accuses each other, can you trap the murderer before Sergeant Trotter does or before someone else dies?

You’re Invited

Thanks to the generous support of the Buhl Foundation, Northside residents are invited to attend The Mousetrap for free. A limited number of tickets are available online. Reserve your seat today!

 Sunday, May 10  Sunday, May 17