If residents want to talk to Mayor Ravenstahl about their neighborhood vision, or hear a full update on city issues, they have one more chance to do so.
Mayor Ravenstahl will lead the last of his 10 Neighborhood Forums at 6:30 p.m. tomorrow, Jan. 9, at St. Mark's Church in the City's Brookline neighborhood.
Over the past six months, the Mayor, along with all City directors, has engaged in dialogue with more than 500 neighbors. He has reported to them on the state of their City, while challenging residents to envision their neighborhoods 10-years ahead, laying the groundwork for future initiatives.
"We are Americas most livable City; there is a reason for that," Mayor Ravenstahl said. "We should talk to one another about our concerns and seek ways to address them together, but we should also talk about why we choose to call Pittsburgh home. Our crime rate is at a 40-year historic low, our finances are stabilizing, our City is headed in the right direction."
With a power-point lofted behind City directors, Mayor Ravenstahl has talked to citizens about Pittsburgh's progress in combating crime, restoring finances, and reinvesting in neighborhood infrastructure. For the Mayor, the forums offer a venue where he can show Pittsburgh's citizens just how he puts their tax dollars to work.
"The Mayor gave a full report to the residents of the Upper East End on issues of financial stability, city management, public safety, economic development, neighborhood revitalization and the city's green agenda, and it was time well spent," said Aggie Brose of the Bloomfield-Garfield Corporation.
Another key item on the Forums agenda has been encouraging citizens to comment not only about concerns, but to share their visions for their community's future. In total, the Mayor and his directors have received an impressive 1,128 comments from attendees.
"Encouraging residents to really think about what they want in their community is key to making positive change," Aggie Brose added.
Neighborhood Initiatives staff encouraged citizen participation, passing out anonymous 311 comment cards. Nearly all attendees participated through live discussion or by reporting to 311 on three points: what they liked best about their neighborhoods; their biggest concerns; and their vision for their neighborhood in 10-years time.
Residents were eager to talk about their neighborhood vision, with 352 spoken or written comments on the subject. Topping the vision list, 15% of respondents wanted to see the revitalization of their neighborhood business district. Thirteen percent wanted to see more police patrolling their streets.
When asked what residents like most about their City, 25% of respondents credited Pittsburghs small-town feel, where neighbors look out for one another and block watches flourish, as one respondent said. Thirty-percent responded indicating their appreciation of Pittsburgh's central location, where shopping, cultural, and business districts are only footsteps away.
"It is our goal to create initiatives that are grown from our neighborhoods," said Mayor Ravenstahl, who is working with Neighborhood Initiatives to determine what the next steps will be following the Forums end. "My directors and I want to hear directly from the residents."
When it comes to top concerns, more than 40% of residents said they wanted more police presence and better code enforcement for landlords.
"Most people in public service are great speakers," Terry Doloughty, President of the Polish Hill Civic Association, said. "It is a rare individual who knows how to listen well; the most important and beneficial thing for the Mayors Forum was the open, two way communication."
One of Mayor Ravenstahl's top priorities is rebuilding Pittsburgh's dynamic neighborhoods with the creation of his Neighborhood Initiatives Department, headed by Kim Graziani. Neighborhood Initiatives staff will analyze all data compiled during the Forums, making recommendations for new initiatives and assuring that top concerns correlate with the deployment of City resources.
Since the inception of the Neighborhood Initiatives Dept., roughly one year ago, more than $1 million dollars in grants have been received to implement neighborhood revitalization projects.
Tuesday, January 8, 2008
Office of Mayor Luke Ravenstahl
512 City County Building | 414 Grant Street
Pittsburgh, PA 15219
telephone: 412-255-2626 | facsimile: 412-255-2687