Independence Day in Bellevue, A Reflection by Grant Saylor

lib·er·ty (lbr-t) n. pl. lib·er·ties
a. The condition of being free from restriction or control.
b. The right and power to act, believe, or express oneself in a manner of one’s own choosing.
c. The condition of being physically and legally free from confinement, servitude, or forced labor.
2. Freedom from unjust or undue governmental control.
3. A right or immunity to engage in certain actions without control or interference: the liberties protected by the Bill of Rights.

On the 4th of July and one day after the pre-council meeting where the council chose to override the Mayor veto of a rather in depth ordinance directly pertaining to “open fires”, I thought it appropriate to post the very definition of Liberty.

I agree wholeheartedly with Linda Woshner that this and other issues should not turn into personal vendettas against neighbors and council members.

Council as a whole really does need to take a good hard look at the community that we live in. The comment was made last night that we “shouldn’t be holding businesses hands”. If we want to attract the right type of businesses to OUR community to make it a desired place to live and visit then they certainly, at very least, should be out there shaking hands with the business owners and being active in the larger community. The Mayors comment about measuring the impact of the parking during the 60 day trial is a very valid point and I applaud Jim Viscussi for taking the lead on talking to the businesses. I hope that this will open some doors to future communication and involvement in the community.

As far as the SRO goes, I have two children who have graduated from Northgate, one who will be starting there this year and my wife and I also went to Northgate. Northgate has for the most part been a pretty safe environment. I do not think that the comment that the SRO should only be used a couple days a week is a good solution. A I stated in the meeting last night I think that we need to benchmark against like communities to see the impact of having or not having a SRO. NA, Avonworth, Sto-Rox are bussing districts and are not economically parallel to Bellevue nor do their students walk to and from school. And to answer councils question that was asked last night, yes there are drugs at Northgate. There were drugs there when my wife and I went to Northgate 25+ years ago. There will be drugs 25+ years from now. I firmly believe that we have a lesser problem in our school than many schools have. The investment in the community of, I believe $81,000 is small in comparison to the impact of not having the officers presence. Many of the kids in this community have learned to respect and trust the Police because of this program. Can you put a value on that?

Lastly, I am still amazed at the conversation that ensued during the meeting around the ordinance. The fact that the council could not hear the facts and opinions presented, not only this week but last month and go back and remove or reword the ordinance to take some of the irrelevant language around grills out is beyond my comprehension. When asked about the grilling I was told that the only time it will be an issue is if I burn my house down or damage a neighbors property. Again I ask the question, how many times has this happened in Bellevue in the last year? 3 years? 5 years? If there is so much “grey” in the interpretation of the ordinance, why wasn’t it removed from the table to remove some of the “black and white” in Article 4.B.1? I, and many of the people who have spoken up about this fully support the burning portion of the ordinance. I do, however, feel that had we enforced the county ordinance already in place that we would not have found the need to create a new one to keep the few “chronic complainers” happy. I would like to see the council disclose the financial impact to the Boro for writing and rewriting this ordinance. Could this money have been used to make a positive impact on the community? Could it have covered the $50 for the sixth grade to have their fundraiser at the pool?

I challenge the members of Council to listen to the voice of the community. It is getting louder and louder. Bellevue will never be Sewickley, Lawrenceville, East Liberty. It will always be Bellevue but with a little bit of forward momentum Bellevue could, at least be mentioned in the same sentence as a few of the other thriving communities in the surrounding area. Let the restaurants do what restaurants do in just about every other community. Allow them to draw new business, new residents, new shops to the community. Take the foot off the throat of the community and put a finger on the pulse. You will be surprised what you might find.

Grant Saylor


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