There was a festive atmosphere in the Grandview Elementary School auditorium as about 110 people gathered for the 7:00 p.m. town meeting about revitalizing Tarentum.
Curt Marino of Seita Jewelers was singing a variety of songs in the auditorium while participants signed in at the door, picked up literature for the meeting, and found their seats.
Among the items being distributed was a questionnaire and a list of committees on which residents could serve if interested.
About 7:15 Councilman Bill Rossey began the meeting, stating that there was a broad consensus that changes needed to be made and that everyone must be part of it.
He named a number of good things that have been happening in Tarentum, as well as projects the Borough Council is working on. He said that Tarentum needed a comprehensive plan, and invited residents to participate in the process of establishing one.
He then introduced a series of guest speakers who spoke in support of establishing a comprehensive plan.
According to State Representative Frank Dermody, Tarentum already has the base for a business community that cares.
Denny Puko of the Pennsylvania Department of Community Economic Development said that we need to ask for and seek change.
Jim Burn, our representative on the Allegheny County Council, told us that Allegheny is the only county in Pennsylvania that does not have its own comprehensive plan, and that establishing one was a priority for Allegheny County's Chief Executive, Dan Onorato. He spoke about his experience as the mayor of Millvale when it developed its own comprehensive plan, and said that before Hurricane Ivan devastated Millvale, there were already grant proposals submitted to accomplish goals in the plan; the existence of a comprehensive plan gave their grant proposals an edge over those from other communities. He emphasized that the fundamental tenet for the process of developing a plan must be what is in the best interests of Tarentum, not anyone's personal agenda.
Rossey recognized a number of other local officials: Mary Bowlin, Chair of the Allegheny County Chamber of Commerce; the mayor, council members, the borough manager, the borough's code enforcement officer, and local business owners.
He then invited residents to share their comments, which continued until about 9:00 PM. A number of residents spoke about their decisions to move to Tarentum. There were a number of comments to the effect that the Pittsburgh Mills is a good thing for Tarentum, providing jobs and attracting people to the area.