Sign, sign, everywhere a sign
Blockin’ out the scenery, breakin’ my mind
Do this, don’t do that, can’t you read the sign?
If you talk to someone who lived in Allegheny West forty years ago, you’re likely to hear that the neighborhood we have today is much like what was hoped for in 1980. A few years earlier Allegheny West Civic Council established a committee, Friends of Allegheny West, for the stated purpose of “developing and furthering human services and physical resources of the community with the goal of combatting community deterioration and revitalizing the area”.
What signs did the neighborhood see at the time that gave such hope? And what signs can we point to today to give us confidence that we’re being the best possible stewards of our neighborhood?
I’d like to offer three signs for your consideration.
First is the Allegheny City Stables Lofts project at 836 W North Avenue. AWCC worked for years to preserve and then to influence the development of the former municipal building. In the next few months we’ll have upwards of 50 new neighbors living in a building that was designed with input from Allegheny West Civic Council as well as the Local Historic Review Committee.
Second, as I’ve mentioned in this column before, the number of neighbors attending General Membership meetings (2nd Tuesday of each month, 7:30 pm, Emmanuel Episcopal Church) is awesome. Allegheny West Civic Council decides when and how to take a stand on an issue, when to spend money, who will be the officers and how the council operates only through voting at General Membership meetings. The way to have a voice is to be a member, attend meetings and vote.
Third, on a cold and rainy January evening a couple weeks ago, over 40 neighbors put on their coats, grabbed a beverage and attended an AWCC Mixer at Giorgio’s Pizza. The food was great, the beverages were shared and the noise level was quite high. It was a wonderful gathering of neighbors, a warm and happy winter evening in Allegheny West. (Thanks to Tim Zinn, Membership Committee Chair for planning this Mixer and those to come!)
In 1980, John Canning, then Chairman of the Friends of Allegheny West Committee, wrote, “I am convinced that the three greatest assets of Allegheny West are: the sense of community of the residents, the integrity of the AWCC and the historical significance of our neighborhood.”
Forty years later John’s assessment still rings true. We might not always share the same vision for the future of Allegheny West, but by participating and working with our neighbors we can continue to read the signs and move in the right direction.