Hot button issue: Autonomous region parliament advocating maintaining Wilkinsburg independence
Rob taylor junior
Personal Mail Writer
Students in grades 7 to 12 from Wilkinsburgh attend Westinghouse within the city limits of Pittsburgh at Homewood.
Residents of Wilkinsburgh will be served by the Pittsburgh Fire Department when the City of Pittsburgh picks up trash and a fire breaks out.
There is even a handy website, wilkinsburgmerger.org, dedicated to promoting the benefits of the Wilkinsburgh-Pittsburgh merger.
However, on Thursday July 1, just before the holidays, there was an “explosion” of support from officials and residents of Wilkinsburg that they did not want any part of the merger with Pittsburgh.
Concerns about Wilkinsburg residents He spoke out on July 1 against the Wilkinsburg-Pittsburgh merger. In the photo above, Margaret Granby, Darrell Green and Shona Green. The photo below shows Derek L. McKinley. (Photo by Rob Taylor Jr.)
“This is a gentrification process that seeks to push people beyond Wilkinsburg. Derek McKinley, union representative for Wilkinsburg employees, told the New Pittsburgh Courier exclusively. “We want to remain independent. We can run our own business here. We can take care of our city. The city is bad. It’s not a place, but it’s not just for us. “
The Wilkinsburg council held a fascinating press conference in an adjacent building in the Autonomous Region with employees, residents and a few religious leaders.
The Wilkinsburg Community Development Corporation (WCDC) is the main organization in the autonomous region that collects residents’ signatures and ultimately submits questions to votes in referendums. The WCDC, which has been in existence since 2008 and whose offices are located right next to the borough building, says residents of Wilkinsburg pay more for public safety per capita than residents of Pittsburgh and receive fewer resources in return. Declared. The organization said Wilkinsburgh, like Pittsburgh, did not have a Civilian Police Review Board, Police Detective Services, year-round youth program or community task force on crime. police reform. Yet, according to WCDC, residents of Wilkinsburg are paying an additional $ 16 per capita for public safety.
WCDC also said that Wilkinsburg’s property tax was too high and that the median price of Wilkinsburg homes at median income levels would save $ 1,593 in property taxes per year.
However, during a press conference on July 1, Dennis Edwards, acting chairman of the Wilkinsburg Autonomous Region Council, pointed out that the WCDC is not part of the Wilkinsburg government, but some residents believe so. ..
“It’s a whole different organization (from Wilkinsburg Council), and they are building that momentum and causing confusion in the community,” Edwards said.
The residents of Wilkinsburg have lived a lot and the rebuilding of this community has robbed the whole community, ”continued Edwards. “We are not looking for a knight to come here with a magic wand to save us. We are independent, we make our own decisions, the big banks and the big money are there. You don’t have to come and tell us how your neighborhood will be rebuilt… I am very proud of this whole community. Residents of Wilkinsburg. “
Edwards said Pittsburgh picks up garbage from Wilkinsburg and provides firefighting services, “everything like signing a contract to pave a road, rebuild a road or provide other services.” Mentionned. She said this should not be interpreted as a self-governing region that eventually wishes to merge with Pittsburgh.
William Smith III, The center said it was important for Wilkinsburg to remain an independent autonomous region.
It’s a statement about how the Autonomous Region is progressing, and they can get what they really want. (Photo by Rob Taylor Jr.)
The residents of Wilkinsburg, who could become official councilors after the November general election, will lose their political voice if the autonomous region merges with the much larger Pittsburgh. He said he was worried. Currently, “the residents of Wilkinsburg have a say in the progress of the autonomous region, and instead of having big companies educating residents on how to do it, they can get what they really want. It was.
At a press conference, many Wilkinsburg supporters pointed out how 7,000 black residents have left Pittsburgh in recent years. He’s chasing African Americans out of town. If it becomes part of Pittsburgh, does it happen in Wilkinsburg? Wilkinsburg supporters don’t even have to worry about it. That is why they are leading merger proposals.
“I think WCDC thinks the poor are dumb because we are a low income autonomous region,” said Leneeneyney, 21, who lives in Wilkinsburg, in an exclusive interview with Courier. “Let’s talk about what the poor understand. They understand the power. And they understand transplant and greed, and we wouldn’t have it. I will fight against this. “
Growing up in Homewood and East Liberty, Margaret Granby moved to Wilkinsburg over 13 years ago. She loves Wilkinsburg. She told Courier that she could not understand what the WCDC was called the “Wilkinsburg Community Development Corporation” and at the same time, she promoted the idea that the autonomous region would lose its independence.
“I’m really confused about this,” she said.
Granby adds: “If I wanted to stay in town, I would have stayed in town. Wilkinsburg is a rough diamond. It could get much bigger than it is today.
Some Wilkinsburg residents have opposed their own website, wilkinsburgfuture.org, to advocate maintaining Wilkinsburg as a single entity. The website said that in the event of a merger, rents could increase due to Pittsburgh’s higher Regional Median Income (AMI) and that 9-1-1 response times could increase, “neighborhood” I don’t know not “how the police react to incidents.
The merger will not affect the current Wilkinsburg school district, which consists of Kelly Primary and Turner Intermediate. The partnership between Wilkinsburg and Pittsburgh Public Schools began in the 2016-17 school year, with a new six-year extension agreed to in June. Most of Wilkinsburg’s 7 to 12 students attend Westinghouse, but about 40 attend other Magnet schools in the PPS area.
Darryl and Shona Green currently live in Wilkinsburg and told Courier they love living in the Autonomous Region. “I like privacy, it’s family and slow for the kids,” Darryl said. “To be honest, I don’t miss New York (his hometown). I wanted to calm down, so this is a great place to calm down, ”said Darryl, who also has a son.
Dontae Comans, who won the Democratic nomination for mayor of Wilkinsburg in the May primary, said Wilkinsburg is “getting help from Pittsburgh” for Homewood and East Hills residents who continue to ask for help. helps their Pittsburgh neighborhood. The first row on the list. “We have to take an interest in ourselves,” he said. “We are not broken. We are Wilkinsburg. We were here. “
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