North Fayette seeks to boost its visibility

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The bustling collection of stores, restaurants, hotels and entertainment centers that straddles the Parkway West (Interstate 376) are clustered in separate shopping districts and span two communities.

But most patrons probably can't distinguish whether they're shopping in North Fayette or Robinson.

That’s one reason why a major focus of North Fayette’s vision for the next decade is to strengthen the name recognition and image of the township.

Many folks don’t know that when they cross over the Parkway West from Robinson Town Centre or the Mall at Robinson, they enter North Fayette and The Pointe at North Fayette shopping center, North Fayette development director Laura Ludwig said.

“We want people to know they’re in North Fayette,” Ms. Ludwig said. “We want businesses up there to advertise they’re in North Fayette. We want people to identify with us and what we have to offer, whether they want to open a business here or buy a home here.”

Signs, a new logo and slogan, streetscape improvements, business outreach and marketing efforts are some of the solutions for the community’s identity crisis proposed in North Fayette’s updated comprehensive plan, which went on display today for public review and comment.

The draft may be viewed online at www.north-fayette.com/building-planning/comprehensive-plan or in person at the municipal building, 400 N. Branch Road; the Western Allegheny Community Library, 181 Bateman Road; and the community center, 8042 Old Steubenville Pike.

Residents are welcome to provide feedback during hearings at 6:30 p.m. March 4 in the assembly room at Pittsburgh Technical Institute, 1111 McKee Road, and at 7 p.m. April 8 in the LaFayette Room at North Fayette Volunteer Fire Department, 7678 Steubenville Pike.

Pennsylvania requires municipalities to update their plan every 10 years to guide decisions about growth, development, improvement and preservation.

North Fayette’s plan says an important element of economic growth is strengthening the image of the 27-square-mile township, which includes about 14,000 residents and a mix of rural, suburban and urban character.

Ms. Ludwig said many people confuse North Fayette with Robinson. , although The Pointe at North Fayette attracts regional shopping crowds to a variety of township businesses, from restaurants to bookstores to Best Buy.

“The identity issue is definitely townshipwide, not just at The Pointe, but it’s intensified at the Pointe,” Ms. Ludwig said. “We need something that differentiates us from Robinson [and other communities] so it pops out at you that you’re in North Fayette.”

Recommended solutions include renaming Summit Park Drive — the main road in The Pointe — to include the word “Fayette” and posting welcome signs, banners and street signs throughout the shopping center.

Signs and other materials would feature a new logo and slogan, perhaps created through a community or school contest.

Sidewalks, trees, signs and other streetscape improvements would be added in The Pointe, at the Five Points intersection in Imperial, in the Steubenville Pike business district and in other key locations.

The township should work with the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation to display highway signs along I-376 and Route 22/30 identifying North Fayette exits, the plan says.

The plan encourages officials to offer incentives and infrastructure to new businesses, to create a page on the township’s website for marketing commercial sites and to host networking and informational sessions for existing businesses.

“We need to work better with those businesses and establish relationships with them,” Ms. Ludwig said.

In January, supervisors approved hiring a part-time communications coordinator for $13.50 an hour to help with tasks such as marketing, promotions, special meetings and newsletter writing.

The township should work with property owners and management companies to fill empty storefronts in shopping plazas along Steubenville Pike and at The Pointe, the plan says.

An analysis of retail opportunities in the township indicates a need for grocery stores.

A few years ago, The Pointe at North Fayette lost some tenants to Settlers Ridge in Robinson, a newer shopping center, but most of the vacancies have been filled, Ms. Ludwig said.

The proposed comprehensive plan covers a variety of topics, including housing, community facilities and how to use thousands of acres of undeveloped land.

The plan calls for supporting commercial and industrial development in some areas while preserving and protecting open space, streams and farmland through efforts such as the township’s recently created Agricultural Security Area.

“You ask any resident what they like about the township, and it’s the rural character, so you have to strike a balance,” Ms. Ludwig said. “We want to target development in specific locations.”

Residential development should focus on multi-family homes, apartments and housing options for senior citizens, the plan says.

The township will move forward with facility improvements, including construction of a $4.5 million community center in Donaldson Park; renovations to the North Branch Road municipal complex, including a new public works facility; and conversion of the Old Steubenville Pike community center into a public safety complex for police and ambulance services.

The extension of the Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission’s Southern Beltway is likely to increase traffic on North Branch Road and other local streets and to cause more demand for homes and perhaps spinoff business, Ms. Ludwig said.

She said it was too early to predict the eventual effects of the Pittsburgh Botanic Garden that’s being built partly in the township.

A wish list of projects includes a biking/walking trail through North Fayette that links the Montour and Panhandle Trails, Ms. Ludwig said.

“Our goal was to put together a good comprehensive plan that gave some vision and some direction for the township moving forward,” she said. “We’d want to do all these things to make the township better. We’ll see how far we get in 10 years in terms of what we accomplish.”


Andrea Iglar, freelance writer: suburbanliving@post-gazette.com.

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