Remarks provided by: Court Gould, Executive Director, Sustainable Pittsburgh
"This morning's 200 attendees is tribute to the sorry reality that blight and abandonment is pervasive across our towns and our Power of 32 county region. It is wonderful to see such wide representation in the room from so many sectors and reaches of our region.
You are also tribute to the robust movement that is weighing-in and approaching blight and abandonment to be untapped assets as core to the heart of the larger regional economic picture as they are to site specific, neighborhood by neighborhood quality of life.
Today is an exciting kick off to a series of programming coming from a "can do" attitude and shared sense of immediacy in the need to stem the tide of vacant properties. We are the Local Government Academy, Housing Alliance of Pennsylvania, Sustainable Pittsburgh, and the Association of Municipal & School Solicitors Section of the Allegheny County Bar Association. And we enjoy support of The Buhl Foundation, The Benedum Foundation and other generous foundations and members that make our work possible.
Once seemingly limited to the stereotypic image of urban decay, blight and abandonment is now a contemporary problem common to all communities. Just as it is a new America where poverty is greater in rural than urban areas, our region is a study of changing socio-economics where pockets of pernicious decline are cropping up in rural, suburban, and urban forms alike. A perspective we partners share is that not only is blight and abandonment ubiquitous across our landscape, but it is recognized to be a marker of larger region-scale concerns.
In step with the Broken Window theory, blight and abandonment is appreciated to be both an outcome as well as precursor to a whole host of social, economic, and environmental concerns. As vacant properties manifest, so begets community withdrawal and the onset of loss of control thus inviting a whole host of ills to take hold. While that decaying property with its broken windows may seem to some to be a low civic priority, it actually stands as is either the neighborhood unraveling by blind-eye neglect or the diamond in the rough asset that cries out to be transformed into productive re-use.
It is this "assets and opportunity" conviction that brings us together to explore the innovative and brave interventions our guest speakers will be sharing with you today. These are our pioneers who are revitalizing communities, building new structures, policies, incentives, and tools for community and regional economic development.
Emblematic of that pioneering leadership, it is a pleasure to introduce The Honorable Richard King, Magisterial District Justice, City of Pittsburgh who has our respect and appreciation for front listing blight and abandonment as high among gravity of crimes on community where the legal system is representative of all branches of government and all sectors to be involved in the fight against blight."
For more information on the New Tools in the Blight Fight training series, please click here.