volunteers answer the call

Mt. Lebanon is fortunate to have 85 citizen volunteers who serve on our boards and authorities, sharing their time and expertise with the commission and staff. But volunteerism extends beyond those who are formally appointed, for nearly every special event or project undertaken by the municipality is successful because volunteers respond when called.  Whether it’s a fun event such as UlTRAParty or Brew Fest or a more serious endeavor such as building the Veterans Memorial, volunteers are key.

A recent volunteer effort will boost Mt. Lebanon’s pitch for a National Register District that would include the community’s oldest subdivisions.  Volunteers joined the historic preservation board (also volunteers) for a Saturday training session provided by architectural historian Laura Ricketts of the consulting firm Skelly & Loy.  Then, armed with cell phones that gave them access to a municipal data base of houses, the volunteers took to the streets for the next month,  documenting whether commerical or residential properties would  be considered “contributing” or “noncontributing” to the district, a requirement that must be fulfilled as part of the submission process for the nomination

The volunteers also took photographs of streetscapes, as the park-like entrances to  subdivisions such as Mission Hills or Virginia Manor and the  roads that wind gently through the neighborhoods are characterisic of the early automobile suburb Mt. Lebanon exemplifies and contribute to the historic significance.

As stated on its  website, “The National Register of Historic Places is the official list of the Nation’s historic places worthy of preservation. Authorized by the National Historic Preservation Act of 1966, the National Park Service’s National Register of Historic Places is part of a national program to coordinate and support public and private efforts to identify, evaluate, and protect America’s historic and archeological resources.”

Being listed on the National Register carries no strictures, but does bring prestige, help maintain property values and provide some tax incentives for owners of commercial properties who make improvements that preserve the historic aspects.

Properties that “contribute” to the district were for the most part built before World War II.  While still in the district, newer properties or older properties that have  been updated in ways that significantly altered their original character are “non-contributing.”

Skelly & Loy will use the information collected by the volunteers to prepare the nomination to the National Register, which should be completed and submitted by the end of this  year.

Thanks to volunteers Jen Curran, Diana DiBeradino, Bob Freeman, Debbie West, Soncerae Yeager and Mary Zavodszky, who responded to the calls sent via LeboALERT and Facebook.  Thanks also to our hard-working historic preservation board:  Yvette Yescas, chair; Joel Clusky, vice-chair, Bill Callahan, Pat Calvelo, Joe Dimperio, Bonnie VanKirk and Michelle Winowich-Zmijanac.