Commissioner’s Column: Kelly Fraasch

Kelly Fraasch, commissioner, Ward 5

This is my last commissioner column for mtl magazine. This time, I wanted to take the opportunity to thank you, Mt. Lebanon, for the opportunity to serve you. In 2011 as a candidate for commissioner, I never could have imagined all of the experiences I would learn and grow from and I will be forever grateful.

Last year I shared my perspective about women in office and found that many shared the same sentiment. This time I want to share another aspect of the community that might be atypical but relevant to our growth.

Our community is growing. We are finding more and more people adopting Mt. Lebanon as their hometown to raise their families. People from everywhere from Maine to California, and from other countries, are moving here. The convenience of the T is a draw to our aging population, to those with various abilities and to millennials that need or prefer public transportation.

This means that Mt. Lebanon is changing. However, are we really evolving, and growing into these changes? Some would argue that we are, but others may argue—not fast enough.

Lebo is a very traditional area. We honor tradition by keeping structures and houses in tune with their original look and purpose, having generations of block parties and always remaining a leader in the area, if not the state, for various community elements like the school district.

However, as we change in makeup of the community, we must also honor tradition by progressing towards efforts to welcome new generations of the future. If we continue to be married only to traditions and not evolve for the upcoming generations, we will not remain on top.

I hope the upcoming leadership recognizes the following: We are a community accepting of all people, which means not just creating an equal opportunity ordinance—we should continue growing in efforts and taking actions to include all populations. For example, we still need to consider ability access to all public facilities, programs and efforts. Those members of our community with different needs and various abilities should be a priority to all. We should put a priority on making our facilities and events more environmentally friendly and accepting of sustainability efforts. Even if it seems too hard, we need to take on the challenge.

I challenge my elected colleagues on the school board to also make certain considerations for our future, including full-time kindergarten, transportation for students and continued progress with our police department to ensure the safety of our students. All costly, but necessary for growth.

Our community—every person—should demand more than words or dismissals on the above progressions because of “the tradition” of the past, or (my favorite) “this is how it’s always done.” Why do we continue as a community to accept that leadership can find millions for certain projects, but cannot find funds to stimulate progress in our community? It simply doesn’t make sense.

My hope is that we truly make the oftentimes hard decisions for the betterment of the needs for the future. The future of the country and the world includes new technology to allow those with various abilities far more independence in addition to those that have various illnesses or aging populations to live longer, healthier and independent lives. We know the future includes addressing sustainability in major ways which include financial stability, energy efficiency and addressing climate change. We know the future includes far more working full-time households. We know in the future that our residents will continue to grow in diversity.

The “bubble” of Mt Lebanon is getting larger every day. Eventually, it will—and should—pop. We need to be ready. We need to start accepting the world around us and planning/implementing policy to ensure that we stay at the top of our game, and embrace being a true example of a community that works for all of our residents.