january 29 commission meeting

Soon you’ll be able to watch Mt. Lebanon Commission discussion sessions live on your computer screen,  thanks to video streaming, but for the time being, here is a brief update of the January 29 discussion session:

—UPTOWN DEVELOPMENT? Commercial Districts Manager Eric Milliron and Blaine Lucas and Joe Kirk from the Mt. Lebanon Partnership discussed plans for a “shovel ready” transit-oriented development (TOD) project at the Washington Road T station.  The idea is for the municipality to build a “shovel ready”  platform that would  attract a developer to  build a multi-use development on the site, providing a boost for the business district and offering easy access to and from the city of Pittsburgh.  The idea, already several years in the planning facilitate by a grant, will continue to take shape over several years.  Additional grant money is available, and Milliron and the Partnership will be looking into that. When an RFQ (Request for Qualifications) is eventually issued, the type of developer responding would be expected to have a “full box of tools,” Milliron said, including the ability to assemble  funding for such a project. Offering the developer tax increment financing (TIF) is a possibility, but that decision would be made down the road.  Lucas said that the Partnership’s goal is to firm up the costs and means of funding the platform by the end of 2013.

—HISTORIC QUEST Jim Wojcik, president of The Historical Society of Mt. Lebanon, talked about the society’s hopes for acquiring and restoring the former McMillan House at the corner of Lebanon Avenue and Washington Road. The Spanish colonial house, built in the 1930s,  was the longtime home of Dr. Donald McMillan, his wife, Christine and their four children.  The historical society currently is located in the small basement space that once served as Doc McMillan’s office. Both the McMillan House and the architecturally similar house next door now belong to Mt. Lebanon Municipality. They have been rezoned for “office/ boutique” use and will be up for sale later this year. Until this year, when the Mt. Lebanon Tax Office  ceased to exist because of regional reorganization of the tax collection function, that office was housed upstairs in the McMillan House along with the three-person headquarters of the South Hills Council of   SHACOG, which continues to occupy a small portion of the house.  The house next door was once the home of renowned pianist and piano teacher Joseph Esposito, his wife, Belle, and their two sons.  That house previously served as the Mt. Lebanon Parking Authority headquarters, but is now empty, because  the municipality has absorbed the parking function.  The McMillan House, which is in better condition than its neighbor, is appraised at $300,000.  Wojcik said the historical society would like to retore the house to its original grandeur and is prepared to conduct a capital campaign. The society has talked with both and architect and a fund-raising consultant.  A possible hurdle for the society, however, is that as a municipal property, the house must be sold to the highest qualified bidder.  Yvette Yescas, president of the Mt. Lebanon Historic Preservation Board , said her board has voted to support the historical society’s efforts to acquire the property.  There are no guarantees that the historical society can obtain the McMillan house; however, the society  has expressed a hope that “historic preservation” might be included among the bid specifications or that some other arrangement might be worked out.

—SEARCHING FOR FIREWORKS SITE Mt. Lebanon will need to find another site for the July 4 fireworks for the next four years, as the traditional spot near the stadium is not available because of the high school construction project.  Mt. Lebanon Cemetery does not want to host the display again, although many residents were very pleased with the uptown location.  Recreation Director David Donnellan said there are  few spots in Mt. Lebanon that are feasible—one possibility might be to join in the with Bethel and Upper St. Clair at South Hills Village. Fire Chief Nick Sohyda has identified at least one possible spot near the park and the staff will be looking into all options for keeping the display local.

—ELECTRIC CHOICE The Commission noted that some residents are confused by  the various options for electric suppliers and the fierce competition for business.  It would not be appropriate for the Commission to endorse a supplier; however, the staff was directed to put a link on the website to the Pennsylvania Public Utilities website which includes comprehensive information and FAQs that would be helpful to residents seeking to save money by making a change.  http://www.papowerswitch.com/

—FIELDS MAINTENANCE  The joint fields maintenance agreement, by which Mt. Lebanon Municipality performs the maintenance on Mt. Lebanon School District playing fields, needs renewing. Several commissioners expressed concern that the Youth Sports Association (but not the individual sports organizations) signs the agreement but does not hold the individual organization responsible for payment. The school district pays the municipality, regardless.  However, the commission decided that the agreement should  be renegotiated as a two-party agreement between the school district and the municipality. Even though the agreement has expired, the public works department will continue the maintenance until the new agreement is finalized.

—NEW SPORTS BOARD A new sports advisory board will be composed of 11 representatives from the various sports organizations and two members at large.  School Director Ed Kubit will be the school district liaison to the board; Commissioner John Bendel will be the municipal liaison.  Letters will go to the various organizations in the next week or so asking them to appoint their representatives.

To view both the January 29 discussion session and public meeting on TV, go to Comcast 17 and Verizon 34  at any of these times:  Tuesday, 7 p.m., Wednesday, 2 p.m., Thursday, 10 a.m., Friday, 10 p.m. or Saturday5 p.m.