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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

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

Letter from the President – September 2018

The summer of 2018 has been even more eventful than usual here in Allegheny West. As we approach autumn, here’s at least a bit of what’s happening…

A special thanks goes out to the AW Party Team (yes, there really is such a thing), and “Partier-in-Chief” Greg Coll, who pulled together and treated all of us to three GREAT Summer street picnics – on Memorial Day, Fourth of July and Labor Day. This neighborhood tradition goes back into the 1970s, and couldn’t have been in better hands this season! And, although the Party Team now gets a well-earned rest, they’re always looking for more volunteers to help out when those picnics roll around next year!

The Housing & Planning Committee under Tim Zinn has been working diligently through the Summer as they process the many upcoming developments, impacts and issues for our neighborhood. At the September 11th Membership meeting, you’ll hear reports of positive progress on subjects as diverse as the railroad through the park and the overpass bridges, the scrap yard on Behan Street, guidelines for new construction on vacant sites and the growing issue city-wide of AirBnBs.

More Special Thanks – this time to Trish Burton’s Friends of Allegheny West, whose monthly neighborhood clean-ups make a world of difference for all of us. And when you’re strolling Western Avenue and enjoying the dozens of colorful hanging flower baskets, it’s Friends that make all of that happen too. Next year they’ll be tackling all of those empty tree planting beds along Western as well!

Our Ways & Means Committee is headed by Carol Gomrick, and has a distinction unmatched by any other community organization in the county: Mounting four different major fundraising events within six months. Did we mention that these folks are ALL volunteers?! With the very successful Wine & Garden Tour completed in June, Ways & Means now moves into its wildest part of the calendar – with the new Premier Wine Event on September 15, the very popular Alleys, Axles, & Ales car show just two weeks later (Thanks Cecile Canales and Tom Barbush), and then the region’s biggest annual house tour: our Allegheny West Victorian Christmas Tour in December. Of course, volunteers are needed for ALL of these!

And…

Nearly a decade after it was initially proposed, we are finally moving forward with our Western Avenue Gateway project, which will expand the AW Parklet at the corner of Western and Brighton to include several community garden plots, an appropriate encircling iron fence and prominent signage welcoming passersby to our community. Not a bad Summer for the City’s smallest neighborhood!

See you at Tuesday’s meeting for details on all of these – and lots more.

John DeSantis
President, AWCC

Letter from the President – July 2018

There will be NO AWCC MEMBERSHIP MEETING ON TUESDAY JULY 10. In the summer – and if there are no pressing business matters to discuss – we sometimes opt to take the second Tuesday of the month off. And that’s just what we’ve done this month – a little break while things are slow and the weather’s nice. The various AWCC Committees will continue to meet on their regular schedules, only the monthly Membership Meeting will be absent from the calendar. So instead of getting together with your neighbors for a Civic Council meeting on Tuesday evening, perhaps you can consider another form of traditional Allegheny West socializing: the friendly neighborhood stroll!

For those who are new to this, a brief primer:

Whether it’s for a few minutes or a few hours, get out of the house and see what the rest of your neighbors are up to. For a while, you may choose to sit on your stoop or porch with a cool drink, chatting with the folks who pass by. And for a while, you can become one of the passersby as you explore your own street as well as those that you visit less frequently. The most important part of all this strolling begins with a single word: “Hello.”

To long-time friends and complete strangers, whether spoken from the porch to a stroller passing by, or from the sidewalk to a stoop-sitter … don’t hesitate to strike up a conversation. In fact, the less that you know the person you’re speaking with, the more rewarding this evening journey will become.

Tuesday will be the perfect evening to get out, have some fun and meet more of your neighbors. It’s so much easier than in mid-January!

John DeSantis
President, AWCC

Letter from the President – June 2018

So what are you doing on Tuesday evening?

Join your neighbors on Tuesday, June 12th at 7:30 pm at Calvary Church for the June 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 p, 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 p,. 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 – 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