Government representatives from Pittsburgh and nearby municipalities will meet Thursday for the Congress of Neighboring Communities' annual legislative session, during which leaders will discuss ongoing regional problems.
Kristen Michaels, the executive director of the group, said the event is unique because, unlike many inter-governmental sessions, this one involves the City of Pittsburgh.
“For us, having this table where local governments come together and actually talk about common issues, just that is a success in itself,” Michaels said. “And we really measure our success by how many communities we have at the table and how engaged they are.”
This year’s Congress will include Heidelberg and Churchill, increasing the total municipality membership to 41. Representatives from more than 30 of those municipalities will attend, along with Allegheny County Executive Rich Fitzgerald and Pittsburgh Mayor Bill Peduto, who is the group's current chairman.
Michaels said the organization is involved in many different policy areas.
“We work on issues that go past municipal borders," Michaels said. "So, for example, anything that a local government would work on that would be an issue that its neighbors would work on too. So, issues of transportation, water, sewer and blight.”
Michaels said sewer regionalization and managing water from major storms is a primary concern for Pittsburgh. Over the past three years, the Congress of Neighboring Communities has partnered with the Allegheny County Sanitary Authority and 3 Rivers Wet Weather to seek solutions.
According to Michaels, the congress' initiatives also cover infrastructure repair coordination and medical services. Michaels said this year's session will also focus on health awareness, by encouraging communities to join the Live Well Allegheny Campaign.
The meeting is scheduled for Thursday, April 21 from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. at the Circuit Center on the South Side.