I have a few priorities when it comes to supporting economic growth through investments in infrastructure, business districts, and transportation in the 30th House District. Our communities are called “North Hills” for a reason – and our topography creates many challenges from transit to water management. Together we can confront these challenges head-on, while growing jobs and supporting local business, addressing long-standing equity issues in our region, and improving environmental sustainability. These investments will be critical to rebuild our economy as COVID19 recovery occurs over the next few years. The critical elements of my platform are:
- Local business & business district investments
- Transportation and safety
- Stormwater management and flood prevention
Based on my prior experience in state government, I would work to convene business owners, local elected officials, municipal managers, public safety chiefs, and working people to discuss regional opportunities and leverage state resources in support of collective goals. Many municipalities in the 30th legislative district are in the midst of developing, updating, or implementing their comprehensive plans, with similar challenges and opportunities in the coming years. I will work to increase collaboration and be a strong voice for regional investment to support local projects.
I. LOCAL BUSINESS & BUSINESS DISTRICT SUPPORT
When it comes to supporting small business, we must first ensure that existing locally owned businesses and their employees have access to COVID relief funds. (Read full COVID platform here). Thinking long-term, there are major opportunities to grow the tax base, renovate brownfield sites and underutilized properties, and recruit new businesses in technology, robotics, and small manufacturing. The new Blue Dot Tire shredding facility in Glenshaw is just one small example of the potential that exists to build environmental sustainability into the future of our communities. The 30th district has plentiful resources in physical space and site availability, (and one long road with incredible connection and potential) that can support the regional growth of these industries. especially as robotics and technology companies begin to look for space beyond city neighborhoods like The Strip District and Lawrenceville. There are two major barriers to existing site redevelopment in our district: transportation and stormwater management. Each is addressed in the platform sections that follow.
In the short-term, I would work to support business district manager(s) for the Route 8 corridor, the Freeport Road corridor, the Mt. Royal corridor, and other commercial locations throughout the 30th district. This added capacity could address community identity, business district beautification, and work on recruiting new business types to our communities. A business district manager could help to facilitate communication across business owners, support marketing of individual businesses and the region, seek public and private grant funding, and coordinate transit, safety, and stormwater infrastructure improvements to help businesses thrive.
II. TRANSPORTATION & PUBLIC SAFETY
Improve Roadway Safety
One of the top concerns raised to me – across communities – about our business corridors is the safety for vehicular traffic. Because of my experience in partnering with PennDOT and local municipalities, addressing the safety of “hot spot” intersections is a top priority during my first term in office. Ensuring that the state, the county, and the Southwestern Pennsylvania Commission (who conducts regional 10-year transit plans) are aware of the needs of our local communities should be a top priority for a state representative.
I am very interested in collaborating with individuals and groups interested in walkability, bikeability, and public transit in our communities. I support growing both community identity and connectedness by convening regular “community roundtables” on transit issues. These should be equity-focused on the needs of low-income individuals and individuals with disabilities. School districts must also be engaged around safe bus stops and walking routes to our neighborhood schools.
Grow Transit Options
We need affordable, reliable, and energy efficient public transit options for commuters and community members — to downtown, the airport, and surrounding neighborhoods. These solutions can include trails and sidewalks, bike paths, expanded bus service, busways, and autonomous rapid transit (or trackless trams). I believe that we need forward-thinking officials who are not just using stopgap measures to solve today’s budget crises, but planning for the challenges of tomorrow.
III. STORMWATER MANAGEMENT
Stormwater infrastructure like sewer drains and pipes can be costly to maintain – even more so when we continue to use gray infrastructure to redirect water rather than green infrastructure which captures and filters water. Green infrastructure not only traps and cleans significant amounts of water, keeping it out of our combined sewer system, it also beautifies and improves nearby recreational opportunities while providing habitats for wildlife. Examples of green infrastructure include rain gardens, bioswales, permeable pavement, detention ponds and wetlands.
In the 30th legislative district, municipalities are installing green infrastructure in public parks and properties, while limited projects exist in new residential and commercial developments. Vacant commercial sites in the district often have significant stormwater management issues, making redevelopment too costly for many businesses and developers. Rather than providing local variances, which create both neighborhood and downstream challenges, our state and county can do more to support these projects on both public and private properties. The cost of not acting affects entire communities – in flood cleanup costs, sewage overflows, and water pollution. Further, there are many opportunities to expand stormwater capture on residential properties, potentially reducing local stormwater fees for individual property owners. I will work to offer stormwater grant programs that address the most challenged properties and benefit all our communities and neighbors.