Four years ago, an article was published in the Post Gazette titled, “What To Do About Bellevue,” in which reporter Jonathan Barnes highlighted the economic struggles facing what should be a thriving, growing, prospering business district just north of Pittsburgh. (To see the article in its entirety click here.) Four years later, we find ourselves asking the very same question. “What to do about Bellevue?”
In the past few weeks, Bellevue has suffered two more punches to the gut in the loss of not only Bite Bistro, but Acoustic Moose Cafe as well. At a time when worthwhile businesses are few and far between on Lincoln Avenue, experiencing the closure of two of the best that Bellevue had to offer is a huge loss for our town. The loss of Bite Bistro and Acoustic Moose provides future investors even less reason to consider Bellevue as a worthwhile risk. The loss of Bite Bistro and Acoustic Moose provides future residents and home buyers another reason to overlook Bellevue as a choice to spread their roots. The loss of Bite Bistro and Acoustic Moose provides current and future community activists less hope for the future well being of the town we cherish and call home.
The part I find most frustrating throughout the roller coaster ride that is the economics of the Borough of Bellevue is how little it is discussed and engaged by our elected leadership. Why is it that when I attend council meetings or engage my “representatives” on the hot button issues of our community, I rarely, if ever, hear them discuss their vision, goals, hopes, even dreams for a thriving business district in Bellevue? Why is that when I attend council meetings that no one seems to bring up plans, incentives, or even off the wall ideas for revitalization and growth on Lincoln Avenue?
Surely they must know that the residential areas of the community immediately follow the lead of the business district. Surely they must know that the collapse of a community’s economy leads to increased drug use and crime rates. What community in America grows without a healthy, thriving business district nearby? This is community development 101. It doesn’t take a PhD to figure out that residents need a reason to move, stay, and invest in a community. Watch a few episodes of some of the “home buying shows” on HGTV and you’ll quickly understand what I’m talking about.
I’m not ignorant enough to think that what ails Bellevue can be pinned solely upon our council. However, our council needs to know that they are in a unique position to encourage change and turn the tide of business development and economic growth. Bellevue Council can offer tax incentives for existing and new business development/entrepreneurship. Bellevue Council can engage the few remaining worthwhile businesses on Lincoln Avenue and consider their needs, wants, and desires. Bellevue Council can reconsider archaic ordinances that put a stranglehold on economic growth. Bellevue Council can, simply put, become a friend of the business district and seek to support it at all costs.
The Borough of Bellevue has been on life support for a long time and the future is looking less and less hopeful with every business that closes its doors. Why is it that Liberty in Bellevue represents the sole entity seeking answers to the most daunting questions and challenges facing Bellevue? How have we gotten to a place where it seems that everyone else is comfortable with the status quo of decline?
Bellevue deserves better. Bellevue should be better. However, the question remains for us, “What to do about Bellevue?” If you have ideas, thoughts, criticisms, questions, hopes, dreams, or anything else to say about Bellevue, please feel free to post it here. Be a part of the solution and let’s get to work!!!