commissioner’s report: John Bendel
Most of us have enjoyed Mt. Lebanon’s many terrific community events—First Fridays, Uptown Farmers’ Market, and Plein Air to name a few. But did you ever wonder who is responsible for making these events happen? It is the Mt. Lebanon Partnership, our very own community development corporation (CDC), which serves as the behind-the-scenes catalyst helping our business districts and community prosper.
Like most CDCs, the Mt. Lebanon Partnership is an independent, not-for-profit organization incorporated to engage in activities that promote and support community development. Its status as a CDC gives the Partnership broad authority to achieve its mission, including real estate development. Although this broader real estate authority may be a tool used in the future, as opportunities arise, the Partnership primarily has focused on events aimed at making Uptown as vibrant as possible.
To achieve its mission, the Partnership has successfully planned popular events such as Plein Air Mt. Lebanon, the Uptown Artists’ Market (formerly sponsored by Mt. Lebanon Rotary), the Uptown Farmers’ Market, First Fridays, Tour de Mt. Lebanon, Winterfest and ULTRAparty. The events are all intended to improve Mt. Lebanon’s economic vitality and increase property values. They have raised thousands of dollars, which have been donated for a variety of purposes. Good examples include providing funding for autism awareness, accessible playground equipment at Mt. Lebanon Park and an initiative that grants money to community art and cultural projects.
Beyond the events, the Partnership recently earned a Keystone Main Street designation for Uptown, which is recognized by both the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania and the National Trust for Historic Preservation’s Main Street Center. Mt. Lebanon is one of 32 communities in Pennsylvania—and the only one in the South Hills—to earn this accreditation. This designation provides access to funding to support façade improvements and redevelopment of anchor buildings.
The Partnership’s volunteer board includes small business owners, lawyers, graphic designers, marketing executives, university professors and a couple of retirees. The board has had terrific leadership, and all board members are active and engaged. Being in sync with Mt. Lebanon’s municipal goals is critical to the Partnership’s success. To accomplish this, two Mt. Lebanon Commissioners sit on the board, and Eric Milliron, the municipality’s commercial districts manager, coordinates the events.
The Partnership is continuously evaluating and enhancing its events and initiatives. For example, the ULTRAparty and the Artists’ Market will undergo changes to boost interest and attendance. And while the Partnership’s focus will continue to be on Uptown, it is also exploring options to support the Beverly Road business district and our other commercial corridors. Additionally, board chair Rebecca Wanovich says the Partnership is considering making visual improvements in common areas, including art installations at Clearview Common and at the entrance to the LRT station. The Partnership also is working with the municipality in creating a new strategic plan for Uptown in 2015.
The Partnership is a community asset that needs your support to continue its momentum in serving Mt. Lebanon. There are several ways for you to participate—the simplest way is to attend one or more of the community events. If you’d like to get more involved, consider volunteering for an event. Volunteering is a fun way to support your community and meet interesting people. Finally, the Partnership is always looking for event sponsors. I encourage you to visit the Partnership’s website at www.mtlebopartnership.org for the events calendar and more information about sponsorship opportunities.