Determining the next decade

an illustration of Mt. Lebanon with people doing activities such as swimming, playing pickleball, riding a bike, flying a kite, walking and sitting on a bench


hat kind of place should Mt. Lebanon be 10 years from now? That’s the question many of you answered during an 18-month community engagement process, which helped create Mt. Lebanon’s new comprehensive plan: Ascend Lebo.

You had some unique ideas…

  • Build a dome over the pool so we can swim year-round
  • Install public art in more places
  • Reduce Washington Road traffic to two lanes
  • Add more ramen restaurants

Most of you agreed that Mt. Lebanon should…

  • Invest in parks and recreation areas
  • Respect the community’s historic character, even as we pursue new development
  • Create safer street crossings, sidewalks and routes to school
  • Strengthen and invest in the business districts

You may have stopped at one of the engagement tables during events such as the Fourth of July celebration, Mt. Lebanon Police Department Classic Car Show in Uptown, a Blue Devils football game or Trunk-or-Treat. Perhaps you were part of the focus group that met 11 times to carefully review the process, or maybe you submitted one of the 5,608 online comments that helped shape the plan.

Now it’s up to the municipality to put your ideas into action. The Mt. Lebanon Commission formally adopted Ascend Lebo in January. The plan will guide community decisions and projects for the next decade. Here’s a breakdown of what’s in the 130-page plan, designed with your values, concerns and aspirations in mind.

The purpose and process of a comprehensive plan

Pennsylvania law requires municipalities to complete comprehensive plans every 10 years, and the resulting documents become development playbooks, providing goals and recommendations for the government to enact in every area, from parks to parking. Assistant Manager/Municipal Planner Ian McMeans was the staff lead for the project and said, “This is our one shot to plot the course for the next decade.” Planning consultants Pashek+MTR conducted an extensive community outreach over the last two years to learn our community’s needs and realistic ways to address them.

In some towns, comprehensive plans are forgotten soon after they’re enacted. But Mt. Lebanon has a strong track record of following through with them.

“People here know what they say to elected officials matters,” said Jenni Easton, principal at Pashek+MTR. “They’re asking the commission to continue investing in Mt. Lebanon’s quality of life.”

In the last decade, Mt. Lebanon completed 53 of the 56 action items outlined in 2013’s Elevate Mt. Lebanon plan. Notable achievements included: a permanent space for the Historical Society of Mount Lebanon, a major renovation of the public works facility on Cedar Boulevard, the Vibrant Uptown streetscape project and upgrades to the ice rink and swimming pool, to name a few.

The new wave of projects in the next decade will continue to reflect our community’s values. Pashek+MTR analyzed thousands of resident responses and created guiding principles for the comprehensive plan.

  • Think generationally: Decisions made today should support the Mt. Lebanon our children will inherit.
  • Embrace comparative strengths: Focus on the unique aspects of Mt. Lebanon that make it a great place to live.
  • Maximize equity and accessibility: All residents can participate and feel welcome in the community.
  • Keep information flowing: Continue to make municipal information available, transparent and easily understood.

These principles informed the recommendations in each of the five sections of Ascend Lebo: Resiliency, Engagement, Mobility, Parks and Recreation, and Financial Management, which line up with the new advisory board configuration. “It’s unique that we’ve aligned the five sections with the five boards,” said McMeans. “I’ve never seen another municipality do this. Now the advisory boards will have their direct marching orders from the comprehensive plan.”

an illustration of Mt. Lebanon showing trees, bushes, and flowers with various houses, and people walking a dog and wakling with a baby carriage


Resiliency is a community’s ability to sustain itself in the long term. To have resiliency, Mt. Lebanon needs to promote responsible economic development, protect nature and wildlife and support residents. Residents want to see better walking routes and sidewalk networks, actions to mitigate climate change in the community and more green infrastructure.


  • Expand the local tree canopy management plan
  • Collaborate with the school district and community groups to plant native trees
  • Revise local ordinances to allow property owners to have native plant landscapes instead of lawns
  • Work towards making streets and neighborhoods more visually appealing in long-term collaboration with ultity companies
  • Launch a local climate action plan by 2030
  • Promote clean energy and carbon neutrality (defined as when some of your actions create carbon emissions, while other actions reduce emissions, creating an equal balance between the two)
  • Reduce household waste through better education, composting programs and promotion of alternatives to single-use plastics
  • Continue to fund stormwater management systems, including green infrastructure (such as rain gardens and vegetation to absorb runoff)
  • Redevelop the south garage as a mixed-use building with a combination of retail, office space, residential units, parking and/or civic space
  • Update zoning and land development ordinances to allow for future residential and commercial growth
  • Collaborate with the Mt. Lebanon Partnership to improve public art, gathering spaces, storefront appearances and more in Uptown
  • Promote the redevelopment of underused space on/near Washington Road including Parse Way, the Denis Theatre and the vacant parcel at the corner of Bower Hill Road and Washington Road
  • Strengthen commercial districts along Cochran Road, Beverly Road and Castle Shannon Boulevard
  • Host more events Uptown, on Beverly Road and at The Galleria, such as rooftop celebrations, art classes or biking groups



Mt. Lebanon has a responsibility to its citizens to communicate effectively, efficiently and respectfully, so they can make informed decisions, participate in the community and share their needs with staff and elected officials. Mt. Lebanon residents are very involved in the community and get their information in many ways. Community surveys indicated that a strong local identity and commitment to diversity, equity and inclusion is important to many residents.


  • Strive for communications that reach all residents, regardless of age or level of technology
  • Maintain opportunities for public engagement in the local government process, such as the advisory boards
  • Adopt an aspirational community slogan (The plan recommended This is home)
  • Create opportunities to make Mt. Lebanon more inclusive and welcoming, such as resident assistance programs, community food sharing systems or an annual volunteer fair
  • Conduct a quality-of-life satisfaction survey every two years
  • Identify policies or programs that may hinder inclusivity in the areas of housing, transit, public safety and livability, and make improvements as needed
  • Track and adapt to societal expectations for local government operations
  • Modernize municipal buildings to make them more welcoming to residents and employees
  • Continue to improve employee satisfaction to attract a new generation of workers
  • Provide visitor information on the website



Everyone should be able to move in and around Mt. Lebanon freely, whether they’re walking, rolling, biking or driving. Our community is known for being walkable—however, many residents would like to see safer crossings and a more robust sidewalk network. Additionally, many people want improved bicycle infrastructure (like bike lanes and racks), safety improvements along the main corridor and a redesign of some streets to be less auto-dominated and more people-friendly.


  • Support the complete streets policy through planning, design, construction and advocacy initiatives
  • Develop active transportation plans and networks with neighboring municipalities
  • Increase and maximize sidewalk availability
  • Promote safe walking and biking to school
  • Continue safety improvements to thoroughfares owned by the state and county, including: a road safety audit on Washington Road with the Southwestern Pennsylvania Commission, consider the impacts of fewer automotive lanes, and multimodal infrastructure improvements, such as better access to transit or dedicated bike lanes
  • Consider changes to parking in Uptown to increase revenue, promote desirable turnover or create more outdoor dining space
  • Include mobility and access goals in the annual capital improvement program


Parks and Recreation

Parks and recreation facilities are the No. 1 priority for Mt. Lebanon residents who responded to the questionnaire. Residents want to see more green space, additional amenities in parks and offerings designed with residents of all ages in mind. The Comprehensive Plan supported implementing the reccomendations of the 2022 Parks Master Plan and included additional areas for consideration.


  • Improve trails in green spaces and parks to facilitate better walkability and connectivity between neighborhoods
  • Create a sign system for Mt. Lebanon’s parks
  • Develop a trail amenities plan to include restrooms, water fountains, dog stations and bird blinds
  • Broaden existing programs and add new ones, such as cooking classes, rock climbing, pickleball or gardening
  • Purchase, rent or partner with new facilities to provide more recreation programs
  • Add spray parks, permanent restrooms and outdoor furniture to parks
  • Finish upgrades to Meadowcroft Park, Sunset Hills Park, Brafferton Field, the golf course and McNeilly Park
  • Consider acquiring vacant land to add trails, expand parks, provide new fields or preserve streams
  • Improve stormwater runoff management at Bird, Robb Hollow, Twin Hills and Hoodridge parks
  • Assess field scheduling to allow for more usage and improved player experiences
  • Implement a woodland stewardship plan to address issues with invasive species, deer, erosion and yard waste dumping in parks


Financial Management

Effective financial management is crucial to Mt. Lebanon’s success. This section looks at the municipality’s financial policies, reports, budgets, revenue, investments, borrowing and spending. Residents said they want value for their tax dollars along with transparent financial decisions. Cost of services and taxes was residents’ third highest priority.


  • Continue to provide high-quality and efficient public services
  • Pursue new partnerships with neighboring communities and organizations to share the cost of contracts, services, capacity and equipment
  • Evaluate waste management options before the current five-year contract ends
  • Consider service level expansions or additional fee-based services, such as a subscription for routine tree maintenance
  • Evaluate municipal planning processes for the next 10 years
  • Employ financial planning and management tools to assess municipal salary and wage structure, pension investments, grant funding, debt ratios and fund balances
  • Determine a formula for calculating the total cost of carbon and incorporate it into financial projections to begin using carbon pricing in future municipal budgets


When asked how she would describe Ascend Lebo in a few words, Easton called it “a very cool, progressive vision for the future, but one that’s grounded in practicality.” McMeans agreed, adding “it’s very ambitious because it tapped into the pulse of the community.”


Illustrations by Dave Klug