Plans take shape for Uptown revitalization
Seems like we’ve been talking about upgrades to Uptown—Mt. Lebanon’s Washington Road business district—for years. That’s because we have. But soon, everyone will be able to see the progress as the concepts become reality in the Vibrant Uptown project.
“We’ve engaged in a 12-month planning process that has involved multiple stakeholders throughout the community who have interest in the business district, including multiple municipal boards and authorities and outside consultants for landscaping and accessibility,” said Assistant Municipal Manager/Planner Ian McMeans. Specifically, the municipality has worked with LaQuatra Bonci Associates for landscaping and accessibility specialist Penny Reddy over the past few months. Members of such boards as environmental sustainability and historic preservation have had input. And a leadership team including elected officials, high-ranking municipal staff and members of the Mt. Lebanon Partnership have offered feedback as the design development stage drew to a close.
The project will likely go out to bid any time now for the first stage, which includes roughly $3 million in sidewalks, lighting and conduit to upgrade utilities, from the area near Washington Elementary School, down to the public safety center.
The lighting is classic, 14-foot-tall black light posts that at once look historic and modern, with LED fixtures that can be adjusted and that will light differently depending on the natural lighting available. They will contribute to a dark-sky concept, meaning they will light the ground but not contribute to light pollution, allowing the moonlight and starlight to gleam.
Gone will be the chunky exposed aggregate sidewalks. New sidewalks will be brushed concrete in a pattern that will make it easy to replace sections if, for example, utilities need access to buried pipes. A decorative border of pavers between the sidewalk and the road will give a visual and textural signal that pedestrians are nearing traffic. Enhanced curb bumpouts will discourage jaywalking by placing physical barriers in common unsafe crossing areas, such as the plaza near the LRT station access.
Other streetscape options, such as seating, changes to existing planters and types of vegetation, will be added to the bid packages with the final decisions to be made after the bids are received.
All businesses will be open during all phases of construction, which is tentatively scheduled to begin in May.
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BOND REFINANCE YIELDS CASH Mt. Lebanon is combining a stellar municipal credit rating with low interest rates to shave more than half a million dollars off its debt.
After retaining its excellent rating of Aa2 from Moody’s Investor Service, a rating that allows the municipality to receive favorable lending terms, Mt. Lebanon is selling bonds to refinance existing debt, a move that is expected to reduce the debt by about 3.6 percent, yielding $670,280 in cash. Money will go to such projects as upgrades to license plate recognition equipment for the police department; facade repair for the municipal building; improvements to building security in the public safety center and the municipal building; and a renovation of the platform tennis warming hut. In addition, $128,660 will be added to the municipality’s fund balance.
Moody’s issued a credit opinion of Mt. Lebanon’s financial stability in advance of the bond sale, citing the community’s “sizable tax base … poised for continued above average growth due to ongoing residential development.” The evaluators also predicted stability “following years of growth that was driven by growing revenue and an expanding taxable base.”
Recent additions to the tax base include the Summit Pointe, Uptown Place and Briarwood Drive residential developments and Beyond Self Storage on Castle Shannon Boulevard. These projects bring in close to $100,000 a year in municipal real estate tax revenue.
TREE PICKUP Mt. Lebanon will pick up Christmas trees at curbside for recycling on two Saturdays in January, January 9 and 16. Take your tree to the curb the night before either collection date. Trees must not be in plastic bags, and must have all decorations, lights and tinsel removed. The trees will be recycled into wood chips and any foreign material on the tree could potentially damage the equipment.