Road salt was just one of the issues on the minds of municipal managers from Bridgeville, Scott, South Fayette, Collier and Upper St. Clair, who were the featured speakers at the South West Communities Chamber of Commerce Community Outlook 2014 luncheon Tuesday at Southpointe Hilton Garden Inn in Cecil. After discussing a season of shared misery, many of the managers were eager to look to the future.
The harsh winter had most municipalities scrambling to keep their roads passable. In some cases, towns scraped the bottom of salt piles and frantically placed orders to replenish their supplies.
Joking, the South Fayette manager Ryan Eggleston asked the 80 or so Chamber members at the luncheon to pass the table salt down to the municipal managers so they could take it back with them in case it was needed to battle this week's forecasted snow storm.
Upper St. Clair manager Matthew Serakowski said his community usually uses 4,500 to 5,000 tons of road salt a year. In the winter of 2006-07, his township used about 2,600 tons, but this year, he said, Upper St. Clair used more than 8,000 tons of salt, and employed various combinations of brine, beet juice and calcium chloride to extend the effectiveness of the mineral.
“We used 60,000 gallons of brine this year,” he said.
South Fayette deployed 4,000 to 4,500 tons of rock salt on 64 miles of township roads, Mr. Eggleston said, and Bridgeville manager Lori Collins said her 1.1 square mile borough was fortunate to still have 175 tons of salt left to take care any future storms.
While the weather was one of the key challenges facing municipalities recently, managers were ready to talk about making progress in improving parks, tackling traffic bottlenecks and encouraging economic development.
Scott manager Denise Fitzgerald said her community will repave Swallow Hill Road, Kane Boulevard, and nine other roads. She said the township will open a park on Hope Street and will explore the possibility of a park in the East Carnegie section of the township that will honor volunteer fire fighters.
In the borough’s main park, she said work will begin this summer on a synthetic ice rink that can accommodate figure and hockey skaters.
She pointed out that the township received Gold Certification in 2013 for being a sustainable community. The award is given by the regional environmental organization Sustainable Pittsburgh to communities that implement practices that lead to a healthy and sustainable environment.
In other areas, South Fayette has a lot of development in store for 2014.
Mr. Eggleston said Children's Hospital of Pittsburgh of UPMC, a 60,000-square-foot facility, is moving forward and the township received $4 million for infrastructure improvements at Newbury Market, a commercial development bordered by Route 50 and Presto-Sagan Road.
An Aldi grocery store and a couple of restaurants also will be locating at the site of the old Ionics Building on Route 50, he said.
South Fayette also is working to enlarge Fairview Park, and is looking forward to April 17, when the township will work with South Fayette School District on a community clean-up day, he said.
Collier manager Sal Sirabella said his township’s population is up 34 percent in the last 10 years, with most growth being driven by new residential developments.
Last year, 138 new homes were built, he said, and 40 percent of the land in the township is still vacant.
“We want to keep 30 percent of the land vacant, a goal of the township’s comprehensive plan, and the wishes of our residents,” he said.
The Collier Township Little League team, were national champions this year and were featured on ESPN, he said.
The township also is excited about the new recreation center and gymnasium opening in July on 70 acres of new park land that was once an old Nike missile site.
Upper St. Clair is planning for new residential and commercial development, Mr. Serakowski said, with the development of the old Consol headquarters site at the intersection of Fort Couch Road and Route 19 attracting the most interest.
The Consol building has been demolished and ground soon will be broken for a development of duplexes, retail and office space, and a Whole Foods Market.
There also are some joint planning projects in the works between the boroughs and townships.
Bridgeville, Ms. Collins said, is working with 10 other communities in the Chartiers Creek watershed to have the Army Corps of Engineers study and come up solutions to flooding in the tributaries of Chartiers Creek.
South Fayette, Upper St. Clair and Bridgeville are also working together with PennDOT to address traffic bottlenecks along the Route 50 corridor.
“No community is an island,” Mr. Eggleston said in support of joint community planning.
He pointed out how the South Fayette and Bridgeville libraries recently worked together to maintain services for both communities.
Bob Podurgiel, freelance writer: firstname.lastname@example.org.