South Pittsburgh Reporter - Serving South Pittsburgh Since 1939

By Ashley Murray
Contributing Writer 

MWCDC elects six new board members at annual meeting


Last updated 10/31/2016 at 4:59pm

Tom Tighe stood at the entrance of the Mount Washington Senior Center on the Thursday evening of Oct. 20, waving hello and shaking hands with those who came out to vote for the nine residents vying for six open spots on the Mount Washington Community Development Corporation board.

“I came back from Washington, D.C., after 20 years, and it looks like our community could use some tender love and care,” Mr. Tighe, who grew up on Mount Washington, said. In Washington, D.C., he worked for the International Union of Operating Engineers. “Grandview Avenue is a disgrace.”

Installing new sidewalks, new benches, “dressing up” the overlooks and installing public restrooms for the millions of tourists who seek out Grandview Avenue are among his plans to improve the community.

By the end of the night, Mr. Tighe and five other candidates had been voted onto the board. The other candidates included Curt Conrad, who recently moved to Mount Washington and who works in the City Council District 5 office; Jean Novak, a longtime resident of Chatham Village; Greg Panza, a 12-year resident of Mount Washington and former employee of the MWCDC who works in real estate; Chris Kail, who moved to Mount Washington from South Side a year and half ago; and Kevin Kerr, who moved to Mount Washington from South Side Slopes in March and had worked for City Council President Bruce Kraus.

However, the MWCDC board is facing a monkey wrench in the mix: The top five vote-getters were to be appointed to full three-year terms, while the person who received the least amount of votes was slated to fill the remaining one-year term of board member Kyle Stewart, who moved out of the neighborhood. Mr. Kail and Mr. Kerr tied.

“We’ll have to consult our bylaws and see if there’s anything in there so that we can [resolve this] by the books,” said Talia Piazza, board member and chair of the Emerald View Park committee. The board has not faced this situation before, she said.

In interviews, all newly elected board members said they hope to address reconciling the old ways of the neighborhood with new ideas, improving the experience for visitors, and sparking economic development.

“I feel Mount Washington is a very interesting neighborhood. The hilltop as a whole is poised for a lot of growth,” Mr. Conrad said. “There’s good housing stock here, a lot of amenities, it’s close to a park, close to downtown, close to the South Side. This is a real gem over here.”

“[Pittsburgh] is a foodie city [with] riverfronts and bike lanes,” Mr. Panza said. “I look at it as a ripple effect, and Mount Washington is right there. We’re poised to be getting that wave very soon.”

Mr. Kail mentioned ideas of attracting more businesses, including a coffee shop that is open late, tennis courts in Olympia Park, and possibly a gym. Meanwhile, Mr. Kerr says he sees a lot of opportunity for the business districts, which he thinks haven’t hit full potential.

Ms. Novak acknowledged some challenges for residents that the excitement may bring.

“We have a challenging topography, which makes it really difficult when you have things like development and parking and people coming in,” Ms. Novak said. “We want businesses to be successful, but then I think as residents we get a little irritated when parking is tight. We need to figure out how to address some of those challenges.”

The board terms go into effect in November.


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