The last article I wrote for this magazine came just a few weeks after I’d been sworn in as a newly elected commissioner. As I write this new piece, I am reminded of our accomplishments over the past year and the areas in which progress is still needed.
This past year, Mt. Lebanon experienced several severe storms which caused flooding and property damage across the municipality. The commission, staff, and engineers completed a comprehensive study of the affected areas and began the process of identifying projects that would alleviate some of the runoff causing the most serious issues. We’ve committed funding to those projects which, together, will have a positive effect on more than 3,000 homes and businesses and make us a much more sustainable community. This will put Mt. Lebanon in a superior position when the new federal consent order is in place, likely sometime this year.
Our new trash and recycling contract went into effect in January, but we’ve been communicating changes in recycling since we learned late last year glass would not be part of the collection. The commission has received hundreds of comments about the issue and we are working to bring that service back soon. A survey was posted on our website asking for opinions of several options currently under review. There have been thousands of responses and that feedback is weighing heavily in our consideration of future recycling providers.
I would be remiss if I did not mention the violence we’ve seen around the country over the last year, and more recently here in Pittsburgh, and acknowledge the profound effect it has on our community. Safety is a top concern for the commission, evidenced in our approval of funding for a resource officer in the Mt. Lebanon High School and for additional teen programming at the library. At first glance, the former might seem a purely reactive measure and the latter of little significance to safety. But a closer look reveals that both roles are meant to engage our youth in a positive way and help to foster relationships and dialogue that will ultimately make our neighborhoods safer places to live, work, learn, and play.
Making sure that dialogue continues is my mission for this next year. As I review the processes that make our municipality one of the best in Pennsylvania I still see room for improvement, particularly in the way we communicate. If we want to engage our entire community in a conversation about important issues we must communicate with our residents in a manner which they prefer and at the time and place they desire. We can no longer rely on just a website or a few commission meetings to get the word out or to invite comment. In the coming months, we’ll be working on improving our communication methods and we’ll need your input and advice on how to best do that.
This past year has been marked by negotiating new policies and reviewing the old ones that no longer work. We’re not willing to fall back on doing things the way they’ve always been done just because they’ve always been done that way. We are intent on looking to the future, keeping Mt. Lebanon an enjoyable place to work and live, and bringing many many more voices to the discussion.
Together we can keep our neighborhoods safe. Together we can ensure our community is vibrant and prosperous. And together, Mt. Lebanon will rise to meet and overcome every challenge we face.