“Mt. Lebanon Municipality, Keith speaking.”
Yes, Keith McGill, our newest municipal manager, answers his own phone. “I don’t screen my calls. The exception would be if I’m out of the office, then the calls go to voice mail. I always try to return calls.”
McGill, a Mt. Lebanon native who has worked for Mt. Lebanon for 19 years, was promoted to municipal manager in January, following the retirement of Steve Feller. As indicated by his preference for taking his own calls, McGill feels that direct access is important: “I work for the residents of the municipality. I want them to be comfortable that they can reach me easily and have a conversation.”
That’s the reasoning behind the upcoming Meet the Manager gatherings planned for July and August. Of course, residents always have the opportunity to address local officials at commission meetings, but as McGill notes, that can be less than ideal: “There are people who might attend the meetings but who are reluctant to speak in public. If they’re standing up at the podium, it’s difficult to have a free exchange of ideas.”
The Meet the Manager events will give residents the chance to meet McGill and converse in a relaxed environment. Some are scheduled for the morning, so residents can stop by before work or after getting kids off to camps or classes. Another is planned for early evening, offering participants the chance to relax with a good beer. Steve Feller and other staff members, including McGill, participated in similar events in the past, and McGill is enthusiastic about the upcoming meetings.
“These smaller gatherings give people a chance to get to know me, and I can get to know them. It creates more of a comfort level for the residents, and for me.”
“The Meet the Manager events are a great idea for two reasons: the community gets to know our new manager and gain insight into how their local government works, and the meetings provide Keith with an opportunity to listen to ideas and concerns of our residents,” says Ward 1 commissioner John Bendel, who has worked closely with McGill. “Keith brings extensive experience to his new role, and these meetings allow him to continue to grow as a leader and strengthen his relationships with residents.”
Based on past experience, McGill says he expects questions about leaf pickup, snow removal, building code requirements, and commercial development. It’s that last topic that particularly excites him.
“I really want to focus on all of the great things happening here,” he says. Noting the opening of SpringHill Suites on Washington Road, which added a property assessed at $13.7 million to the local tax rolls, McGill is bullish on the future of Mt. Lebanon.
“We were New Urbanism before it was new,” he says, noting the walkable business districts and convenient public transit. “We’re starting to attract a different demographic: younger people, people without cars.
“Things are definitely different here than they were 10 years ago,” he adds. “There are lots more events than there used to be,” including the farmers markets and First Friday concerts in the summer, and an Uptown block party in September. The first-ever Yinz Festival, a celebration of Pittsburgh culture with food, live music, and beer, is planned for October 8. As with UltraParty in the past, Washington Road will be closed for the event.
“If you had told someone 10 years ago that we’d close Washington Road and serve alcohol, they’d have never believed it,” McGill says with a laugh.
Meet the Manager Schedule:
Monday, July 11, 8-10 a.m.
Uptown Coffee, 723 Washington Road
Tuesday, July 19, 9-11 a.m.
Coffee Tree Roasters, 299 Beverly Road
Tuesday, July 19, 6-8 p.m.
Hitchhiker Brewing, 1901 Castle
Friday, August 19, 8-10 a.m.
Panera Bread, Galleria