One of the exciting things about Reimagining Our Westmoreland is the idea of reimagining. To think about something we know in a different way. In local government, how do we do that? Steadfastness and dependability are 2 of local government’s greatest strengths.
It can be challenging to think of governance in a new and imaginative way. One way to do so is to think about a definition of good governance that is made up of 2 parts: a technical part and an adaptive part.
That technical part is embodied by those techniques used to get the work of the local government done, ranging from administration to infrastructure to planning. There are numerous aspects of local government that are practical and important. And practical doesn’t mean easy!
The adaptive part is less familiar territory. But it is equally important because it is when we have a transformed view and solve problems. It is where local government’s work is relevant and valuable to residents in an ever-changing world. It is where we reimagine.
As we are “Reimagining our Westmoreland,” a host of technical and adaptive topics may come up. Two important things to remember are: (1) Reimagining is about how we look at things, how we adapt to our circumstances, not about a certain outcome. (2) As we look at both the technical and adaptive sides of local government, is what is important and meaningful for the communities involved?
The July 29, 2019 meeting will allow for some time for the group to form some statements to define the Alle-Kiski planning district as a "team." This will help with both the technical and the and the adaptive aspects of future agendas. All of the elected and appointed officials are vital contributors to the discussion. RSVP today!
Even more important than housing, the economy of an area provides residents with jobs and supports a tax base. And while the quantity and quality of jobs support our quality of life, evermore so, the quantity and quality of our labor force will define local economies. For the county, change in employment has been fairly modest over the last decade or more. From 2002 to 2015, there was an increase of 1.4% or 1,786 jobs countywide, despite a population loss of nearly 20,000 people.
When looking at employment change within specific Planning Districts, differences can be both great and small depending on the size of the employment base. Areas with a smaller employment base tend to have greater swings in employment change. For the Alle-Kiski Planning District, employment change from 2002 to 2015 has been mostly flat, with an increase of just 25 jobs or .2%.
Of that employment change, industries that have seen the most growth within the Alle-Kiski Planning District include wholesale trade; mining, oil, and gas extraction; and business support and waste management. Industry strengths are typified by the concentration of a particular industry in an area when compared to a larger area. Westmoreland County’s strengths lie in industries such as professional, scientific, and technical services; healthcare and social assistance; and mining, oil, and gas extraction. When compared nationally, the Alle-Kiski Planning District has a higher concentration of jobs in educational services, utilities, and wholesale trade. Construction is also a regional strength worth noting for the All-Kiski region as this industry is more concentrated regionally compared to the county.
As with change in employment, wages across the county have increased over the last 17 years by 8%. Wages within the Alle-Kiski Planning District increased by 3% since 2000. Overall, wages have increased both regionally and countywide. Although, the dip in wages in 2010 for the Alle-Kiski region suggests the Great Recession impacted wages to a greater extent than for the county as a whole.
While wage, employment, and labor force trends within the Alle-Kiski Planning District are similar to those countywide, through the Planning District process, strategies can be developed specifically for the Alle-Kiski region to further its economic and employment goals.
Don’t forget, the next Alle-Kiski Planning District meeting is on July 29, 2019 at 6:30 PM in Allegheny Township. Municipal officials are invited to attend. Please RSVP here.
Housing is one of the most basic components of any community. In many ways, it is both a determinant and result of strong communities. A healthy housing stock, typified by low vacancy rates and a mix of housing options, supports quality of life. A weaker housing stock, typified by higher vacancy rates, abandoned housing units, and few housing options can further weaken a strong local economy.
During the creation of Reimagining Our Westmoreland, when we asked for the top housing priorities, residents across the county clearly expressed townhomes, apartments, and condominiums as a top priority. When we asked residents about their perceptions of housing needs in the county, the overwhelming response was that we needed to add more housing options to the mix. Additionally, the location of these options are important as residents voiced strong support for better transportation choices, whether that was by car, train, bus, bike or foot.
Despite residents’ reported housing priorities, the increase in housing units since 2000 is predominantly single-family detached units. As housing units in the Alle-Kiski District increased by an additional 392 units, from 2000 to 2017, 76% of the housing unit increase was single-family detached homes, while 24% was townhomes, apartments or condos.
Through the Planning District process and plan implementation, future housing stock in the Alle-Kiski Planning District can more closely reflect the wants, needs, and priorities of residents.
If you attended the first Planning District meeting on June 24th, don’t forget to complete the survey to help provide feedback on this shared process. The next meeting is on July 29th, 2019 at 6:30 PM. Municipal officials are invited to RSVP here.
Alle-Kiski Planning District Meeting 2 is slated for July 29, 2019 at Allegheny Township, at 6:30 PM. As in the Kick-off, this meeting is for municipal elected and appointed officials to continue to explore themes in Reimagining Our Westmoreland, areas of common concern and opportunity, and the planning district concept. We will review what we learn from the survey (municipal officials, please complete it today!), get more information to the group about areas of interest identified at the Kick-off, and continue to build the network. RSVP here. See you there!
Thanks to strong participation by 10 municipalities in the June 24, 2019 Planning District Kick-off, municipalities in the Alle-Kiski have commenced exploration of the planning district concept as laid out in Reimagining Our Westmoreland. At the event, Planning and Development Director Jason Rigone welcomed municipal colleagues to the County's effort to put in to action strategies learned as a result community engagement in the Westmoreland County comprehensive plan development. Deputy Director Brian Lawrence presented a detailed look at the county's population and workforce challenges as well as a summary of the opportunities available to the area. The next meeting is July 29, 2019, 6:30 PM at Allegheny Township. Municipal officials may RSVP here.