commissioner’s column: Kelly Fraasch
In the March 2012 edition of mtl, each of the new commissioners were asked several questions. One question was, “What would be a good 100th birthday gift to our town?” My answer to that question was very simple “Revenue.”
First, let me define what I mean by revenue. For me, I am looking for “new” revenue. In Mt. Lebanon it’s difficult to find new revenue sources that will expand our tax base because we are so close to being fully developed. This is why one of my priorities as Commissioner is to be open-minded about any conceivable long-term income sources that increase our tax base, including both residential and non-residential development.
Non-residential businesses like we currently have on Washington Road are doing well. I think we’ve all noticed some huge changes happening in this business district. There are a number of buildings currently under renovation, we have a new hotel being built and we have a number of new faces sprinkled throughout. Our staff should be commended for its hard work assisting those that have been interested in building and locating their businesses here. It is a great feeling to know that we have vibrant business districts on Washington and Beverly roads. Being at almost full capacity in these two areas will allow us to focus a bit more on other nonresidential areas such as Cochran Road and Castle Shannon Boulevard. A little more work on those areas will help to bring them up to their full potential as well.
There is one particular project that has the potential to generate income for our municipality. The Transit Revitalization Investment District (TRID) involves the development of “air rights” over the T stop in Mt. Lebanon. The area I am referring to begins at the Public Safety Center and flows down Shady Drive East and extends over to Clearview Common. There have been numerous mentions of a possible TRID project in the past and I want to share my thoughts.
Mt. Lebanon purchased the air rights above the T station back in the 1980s. In 2004, the commonwealth provided grant money to enable municipalities to study the best ways to create commercial and residential developments around the T stop. Mt. Lebanon was one of the first beneficiaries of this grant.
In January 2012, the Economic Development Council hosted a presentation by hired consultants to unveil a design. The images were definitely an eye opener for where Mt Lebanon could be in the future. The presentation showed a beautiful mixed-use space that would have a number of apartments and/or condos with retail spaces and parking.
So where do we go from here? This Commission needs to decide where this project lies on the list of priorities. It is my hope that this development opportunity sits at or near the top of our list. As a Commission we need to discuss what we want from the project and move forward on figuring out how to fund the large platform that is required to build any project above the T station. We will need to get input from the community, especially those who live in and around the area being considered for development.
I do expect that this project will be included in our upcoming Comprehensive Plan that Commissioner Bendel shared in last month’s article. Now is the time to begin looking at this vision closely. If we don’t, it might be an opportunity that passes us by and we will miss out on the benefits of growing Mt. Lebanon.
Being from Mt. Lebanon, we enjoy having the best police and fire departments, we have a top-notch library, and have grown accustomed to a wonderful lifestyle rich with recreation opportunities, excellent public works services and beautiful neighborhoods. In order to maintain the benefits we currently have and grow in the ways that we envision, our municipality needs to find new sources of income to support our future.
Many thanks to all who extend their expertise, passion and energy toward our local government. Many people tirelessly contribute to the betterment of this community whether on a board or authority or by attending meetings. Many also share their ideas and thoughts with the commission. This input is always appreciated. Both positive and negative feedback help us build toward an overall positive outcome. Thank you for allowing me the opportunity to serve you and Mt. Lebanon.
Please feel free to contact me and share your thoughts at email@example.com
If you have any questions on this topic or any other municipal matter, please contact your ward commissioner. Letters to the editor also are welcome and may be excerpted in mtl magazine, 710 Washington Road, Pittsburgh, PA 15228; email: firstname.lastname@example.org; fax 412-343-7841.