806 Western Ave, Pittsburgh, PA 15233

Letter from the President – January 2015

I have to admit, I’ve been really nervous about my first President’s message (which is why this is so late, sorry Fran!). I have some big shoes to fill. Bob Griewahn has done an inspiring job as President the last couple of years, so I hope folks understand while I get up to speed. The rest of the Board, as you might expect since they’re Allegheny West neighbors, has also been wonderfully supportive and generous with their time – patiently bringing me up to speed on where we are on all our ongoing projects.

As one those people who make’s New Year’s resolutions (and even keeps some of them!), I’ve been talking to lots of folks in the neighborhood about what our resolutions for the neighborhood should be. But I’ve only just started figuring out what would get folks get really excited. Based on the conversations so far, here are some of the the things we’re working on for this year.

  • Encourage more folks to come to the meetings and take a leadership role for neighborhood activities. One idea was to have more external speakers come to the meeting, and so have folks lined up for the meeting in January (PennEnvironment) and February (Sarah Quinn from the City Historic Preservation Office). Please share any ideas for speakers or even just what might make you want to come to the meeting.
  • Put the finishing touches on Western Avenue and identify what our next big project is. The Buhl Foundation has made a huge financial commitment to the North Side, on the order of $40 million dollars over the next 4-6 years. I want to be sure we participate.   What are the things in the neighborhood that you think that Civic Council could have the most impact on that would personally make your life better?
  • Modernize our bylaws, so that folks with good ideas see the Civic Council as a place to get support to put great ideas into action. Good bylaws should make it clear how how we can work together to make things happen and not stand in the way. Gloria, Bob, and Jim have been working through them, and we hope to have a draft available to comment on by the March membership meeting. If you have specific concerns that you want to be sure are addressed don’t hesitate to ask me. (That was my best attempt at making bylaws exciting.)

We’re still looking for feedback about how we should be spending our time and resources to improve the quality life in the neighborhood.  Obviously, this is not a comprehensive list, there are ton of other things on the Council’s plate as well. If there’s something not mentioned here that you think should be a top priority please let me know.

I have a confession – I’m a bit of an introvert. At the same time I know it’s really important for me to get to know folks in the neighborhood.   I’m going to work on coming out from behind my computer screen and starting conversations with folks, but it would help me if the extroverts among us could help me get to know folks as well.

Here’s how to get a hold of me if you have any ideas that you would like the Civic Council to support  or are not sure who to contact on the Board with a specific question. It’s easiest to get a hold of me by email (seriously, introvert): If you prefer the phone, you’re more likely to catch me in the evenings between 7:00 pm and 10:30 pm or on weekends: 412-418-2027. I’m in meetings a lot during work so I often can’t answer the phone during the day. I’m both excited and nervous about this year – let’s have some fun!

Catherine Serventi
President, AWCC

Guest Speaker at the January 13 Membership Meeting: PennEnvironment

Stephen Riccardi is the Western PA Field Associate for the PennEnvironment and has asked to speak at the the AWCC membership meeting on Tuesday, January 13. From PennEnvironment:

PennEnvironment ( is a statewide, citizen-based environmental organization that is working on a campaign to clean up our air quality here in Allegheny County and is engaging the area’s community organizations  to help us win this fight for cleaner, healthier air.  Air pollution is a longtime problem for Western PA.  The American Lung Association has given our air an F rating and ranked us as the 6th worst metro area in the country. This is putting our health at serious risk. For the 24,000 children and 100,000 adults in Allegheny County suffering from asthma, air pollution makes it risky to even go outside some days. Even for those without respiratory problems, Allegheny County is in the top 2% of US counties for cancer risk from pollution.  It may come as little surprise that much of the pollution in this area is emitted by dirty industrial facilities. One plant, the Shenango Coke Works, recently violated clean air standards 330 out of 432 days. But the agency responsible for regulating the facilities, the Allegheny County Health Department, is not doing enough to protect our health from these big polluters.

Come hear about the work PennEnvironment has been doing to engage with the Allegheny County Health Department to lookout for our most vulnerable citizens and our health.