ARTISTS’ MARKET TOPS ITSELF Part arts festival, part food truck roundup, part demonstration studio, part shopping spree, part concert … It’s hard to define the Mt. Lebanon Artists’ Market, set for Saturday, September 21 and Sunday, September 22, from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. both days, and a bonus concert Saturday night.
Presented by the Mt. Lebanon Partnership, the Artists’ Market takes over the Academy Avenue parking lot, just behind the Saloon. Jurors Mark Bender, Harold Behar, Charlene Longer and Jim Mellett selected 70 artists who work in a wide variety of media, including fabrics, painting, photography, jewelry, glass and wood, with 20 new artists this year. Cash awards attract top-notch talent.
The market evolved out of the Rotary’s Art in the Park, but moved to Uptown in 2013 when construction at Mt. Lebanon High School displaced it. It resurfaced as part of Plein Air Mt. Lebanon and was organized by Steve and Wendy Denenberg, former owners of Create A Frame/Handworks Gallery. The market then grew and was upscaled and now occupies its own weekend, with the Denenbergs still at the helm.
Each day kicks off with the opening of the market, and continues with Tom Savini’s Special Makeup Effects Program and demonstrations by the Mt. Lebanon High School AP Art students, led by department chair Jennifer Rodriguez.
On both days, Jazz vocalist Maureen Renihan starts the music from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m., followed by festival stalwarts Pete Hewlett and Scott Anderson from 1:30 to 4:30 p.m.
On Saturday night, the market presents the pARTy, from 6 to 9 p.m. in Clearview Common with folk-style singer-songwriter Christopher Mark Jones.
Admission to all the events is free, but proceeds from a raffle go towards scholarships for students looking to continue their education in art. In previous years, the Partnership had awarded one $1,000 scholarship every year, but both this year and last year, it raised enough for three: This year’s scholarship winners are Hannah Jones, who will study at Pitt, Natalie Callahan, who will attend Chatham and Madeline Kelly, who will go to the Temple University School of Art.
Food trucks on this year’s docket are: Arancini House, BRGR, Country Hammer Moonshine, Curly Tin Rizzi Ice Cream, Mac & Gold Truck, Revival Chili and Totopo.
If you would like to volunteer, fill out a form here.
For a list of artists and up to date information, go to mtlebanonartistsmarket.com.
STREAMLINED PARKING You’ll notice a small tweak to parking in the Academy Avenue parking lot later this month. Instead of having to place a receipt on your dash to prove you’ve paid for parking there, you’ll simply enter your license plate number at the pay station. The system will automatically keep track of your session and enforcement officers will have access to the data.
Parking enforcement officials will have license plate recognition software in their vehicles, allowing them to identify cars with lapsed parking sessions. Those drivers will be issued a ticket right from the printer in the enforcement vehicle.
Another change for drivers: In the Academy lot, you’ll need to park head-in, so the license plate readers can see your plate.
A bonus: You’ll still be able to pay through the Passport app using a credit card. The app will notify you if your session is about to run out and you’ll have the option to extend so you can enjoy more time at your meal or other Mt. Lebanon activity.
The new system will be more efficient since parking officials won’t need to walk the lot on foot. And it’s just a preview of things to come. In the near future, similar pay stations will likely grace Washington Road and the Overlook Lot, as well as other spots in the municipality. Stay tuned.
GOOD DEBT There are all kinds of debt. Not all of it is bad. Some kinds of debt can even save money. Just as with individuals, the higher a municipality’s credit rating, the easier it is to borrow money on favorable terms.
With a bond rating of Aa2 from Moody’s, Inc., one of the top three credit rating firms—Fitch and Standard & Poor’s are the others—Mt. Lebanon has better options available when it’s time to borrow than many other communities.
In order to receive Moody’s highest-level rating, AAA, Finance Director Andrew McCreery says Mt. Lebanon would have to more than double the amount of its unassigned fund balance, money set aside in the municipal budget for unforeseen circumstances. Mt. Lebanon’s unassigned fund balance at the close of 2018 was $5.3 million, or 14.4 percent of the general fund.
“It doesn’t behoove us to sit on a huge pile of cash just for a bond rating,” McCreery says. “We’re the best we want to be.”
This summer, Mt. Lebanon issued a bond for $5 million to pay for several capital projects, including $2,818,260 for the Washington Road streetscape, to be augmented by $1,041,500 in state grant money, which requires a funding match from the municipality. Other projects include $970,060 for improvements to the Mt. Lebanon Public Library’s HVAC system and for a new roof, $506, 780 for park improvements, $220,000 for reconstruction of tennis courts (augmented by a $180,000 pledge from Indoor Tennis for Mt. Lebanon), $116,700 for upgrades to traffic intersections and $368,200 for other improvements.
Mt. Lebanon issued debt (new bonds or refinancing) in all but two of the last 18 years, McCreery says. The municipality’s last major bond issue was for $8.8 million in 2017 to pay for the new public works complex on Lindendale Drive and for improvements to the Ice Center and a new fire truck.
This year Mt. Lebanon is also refinancing its 2012 and 2014 bonds at a lower rate, saving enough money to cover the costs associated with issuing this year’s bond. The bond will not need a tax increase to pay for it.
“We know how to layer debt so as to not affect the general fund budget,” McCreery says.
The frequent debt issues complement the high credit rating.
“We check all of the boxes,” McCreery says. “We have all of the data that lenders require at our fingertips. We also have a commission that understands the process and asks all the right questions before moving ahead. We’re ready to go at a moment’s notice, which helps us to pick the best time when the market is right.”
All of these factors make it easy for Mt. Lebanon to make the best deals.
“The ample demonstrations of fiscal prudence over time generates an ease in the marketplace,” says McCreery.
“We received the streetscape [grant] in February and the commission said ‘Let’s go,’ and six months later we had the cash in hand. Not many communities can pull the trigger as fast.
“Lenders are accustomed to us managing our debt efficiently. Underwriters want to work with us. Bond holders trust us. They know who we are.”
DEER CULL BEGINS Suburban Wildlife Management Solutions will begin the
archery portion of this year’s deer management program on September 21. The program will conclude on January 25, 2020, with a holiday break from November 29 to December 25.
Hunting on public property is permitted only by archers volunteering with Suburban Wildlife Management Solutions as part of the municipal program. Private properties have been donated by property owners for the hunt. The sites are thoroughly vetted by Suburban Wildlife Management Solutions, and requisite permissions were secured from neighbors. No site is on a school safe walking route; schools have been notified. If you would like your property to be included in the hunt, contact Suburban Wildlife at email@example.com.