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806 Western Ave, Pittsburgh, PA 15233

Letter from the President – May 2018

So what are you doing on Tuesday evening? Join your neighbors on Tuesday, May 8th at 7:30 pm at Calvary Church for the May meeting of the Allegheny West Civic Council – and a very special presentation.

How ’bout a trip back in time?

As we near the end of our year-long 55th Anniversary celebration of the Civic Council’s founding in May 1962, we are pleased to offer the first-ever public viewing of a genuine community time capsule.

Allegheny West Springfest, ’79 is a twenty-minute video that was produced 39 years ago, during our neighborhood’s original House Tour/Street Festival/Music Extravaganza – one of the city’s biggest annual community events at that time.

It stars dozens of our former neighbors (and some current ones who haven’t aged a bit!) as they were transforming AW in the 70s, and includes a grand tour of the neighborhood as it looked “before” the last four decades of restoration. There’s also plenty of great live music, colorful commentary from the locals, and even Mayor Caliguiri almost sailing away in a hot air balloon!

Current AW folks will enjoy this blast from the past, and of course we’re inviting former neighbors to join us for a stroll down Memory Lane. So spread the word and don’t miss it! The video screening will begin promptly at 8:15 pm, with free movie snacks of course.

The regular May meeting of the Allegheny West Civic Council will begin at 7:30 pm that evening, will recess for the Springfest ’79 video at 8:15 pm, and will then continue afterward.

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

Letter from the President – April 2018

So what are you doing on Tuesday evening?

Join your neighbors on Tuesday, April 10th at 7:30 pm at Calvary Church for the April meeting of the Allegheny West Civic Council. Each month, this is where 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. Everyone is welcome — second Tuesday of each month, 7:30 pm, in the Calvary Church social hall, corner of Beech and Allegheny Avenues (use the Beech Avenue entrance). The meeting is usually over by 9:00 pm.

It’s also a great way for newer folks to meet your neighbors and get involved: We hope to see you on Tuesday evening!

Letter from the President – March 2018

So what are you doing on Tuesday evening? Join your neighbors on Tuesday, March 13 at 7:30 pm at Calvary Church for the meeting of the Allegheny West Civic Council. This is where the important decisions about our neighborhood are made – and your voice can’t be heard if you’re not in the room. Find out what’s going on, speak up and get involved!

For our March membership meeting, we’ll have a presentation by the Pittsburgh Parks Conservancy of their final recommendations for implementation of the 2002 Allegheny Commons Master Plan. There are some significant changes to “our end” of the park included in the proposed document. Over the next two months, AWCC will be determining which components we support and which we would like to see removed from the implementation plan before it moves forward.

Join us for this important discussion – and much more. Everyone is welcome – second Tuesday of each month, in the Calvary Church social hall, corner of Beech and Allegheny (use the Beech Avenue entrance). The meeting is usually over by 9:00 pm. It’s also a great way for newer folks to meet your neighbors and get involved!

We hope to see you on Tuesday evening!

Letter from the President – February 2018

So what are you doing on Tuesday evening?

Join your neighbors on Tuesday, February 13th at 7:30 pm at Calvary Church for the February meeting of the Allegheny West Civic Council. Each month this is where 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.

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

We hope to see you on Tuesday evening!

Letter from the President – December 2017

So what are you doing on Tuesday evening?

Each​ ​month​ ​this​ ​is​ ​where​ ​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 — especially​ ​at​ ​our​ ​last​ ​meeting​ ​before​ ​the​ ​holidays!​

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

We hope to see you on Tuesday evening!

Josh DeSantis
President, AWCC

Read John’s Latest Installment in the History of Allegheny West

Letter from the President – November 2017

So what are you doing on Tuesday evening?

Join your neighbors on Tuesday, November 14th at 7:30 pm at Calvary Church for the annual meeting of the Allegheny West Civic Council.

Each month, this 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 Avenues (use the Beech Avenue entrance). The meeting is usually over by 9:00 pm. It’s also a great way for newer folks to meet your neighbors and get involved!

We hope to see you on Tuesday evening!

Josh DeSantis
President, AWCC

Read John’s Latest Installment in the History of Allegheny West

Letter from the President – October 2017

So what are you doing on Tuesday evening?

Join your neighbors on Tuesday, October 10th at 7:30 pm, at Calvary Church for the monthly meeting of the Allegheny West Civic Council.

Each month, this 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 is 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!

Josh DeSantis
President, AWCC

Read John’s Latest Installment in the History of Allegheny West

Letter from the President – September 2017

So what are you doing on Tuesday evening?

Following our two month Summer break without General Membership meetings, you should be well rested and ready to join your neighbors as we direct Allegheny West along the exciting course that we have now sailed together for more than 55 years.

A big THANK YOU to the many AW folks (you know who you are!) who continued to attend all of those OTHER meetings all Summer: Executive, Housing & Planning, Ways & Means and Membership Committees — and meetings for the Northside Leadership Conference, Allegheny Commons Initiative and others—as well as those who volunteered for clean-ups and for our Allegheny West Summer community picnics on Memorial Day, Fourth of July and Labor Day.

We will all be getting together again on Tuesday, September 12 at 7:30 pm at Calvary Church 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.

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, on the corner of Beech and Allegheny Avenues (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!

John DeSantis
President, AWCC

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 president@alleghenywest.org.

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

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