Henry J. Lenard, a lifelong resident of Bellevue’s First Ward, is seeking the Democratic nomination for one of the ward’s two seats up for election this year.
Lenard, 55, graduated from Bellevue High School in 1975 and received his B.A. in journalism in 1979 from Duquesne University. He currently operates a marketing communications consulting business, in addition to being the Pittsburgh correspondent for Boston, MA-based Robotics Business Review.
Prior to starting his own business, Lenard served as marketing and communications director at two of Pittsburgh’s 10 largest law firms, Pietragallo Gordon Alfano Bosick & Raspanti LLP and Klett Rooney Lieber & Schorling. He also worked in public relations at St. George Group and MARC USA. He was editor-in-chief of Industry.Net, a nationally focused print and online industrial news publication, and is a former editor-in-chief of the Pittsburgh Business Times. Lenard began his professional career with the now-defunct City and Suburban Life newspaper in Bellevue, first as a reporter and then as editor.
Lenard resides on Keswick Avenue with his wife, Helen, and son, Henry III, a second grader at Avalon Elementary School. He is a member of the Church of the Assumption in Bellevue.
Henry J. Lenard
Democratic Candidate for Bellevue Borough Council, First Ward
Responses to Liberty In Bellevue questionnaire:
What is your vision of Bellevue?
My vision for Bellevue is one where newcomers and their ideas are welcome, long-time residents and their knowledge of the borough’s past is respected, and all participate as one to move Bellevue into the 21st century. There are many paths to the same destination and we need to work together as a community to ensure that all opinions are valued and not discounted because of someone’s length of time – be it too short or too long – in the borough, or their party affiliation. If we can put all that aside and work for the common good, we can make Bellevue the community we know it can be.
What do you see as Bellevue’s strengths & weaknesses/struggles?
Bellevue is a hidden gem that has a lot going for it, beginning with our location. We are close to the city and the suburbs, with easy access to public transportation for those without a car and, for those of us with a car, great access to a network of roads that can take us in any direction. We have a relatively healthy Lincoln Avenue business district that boasts, among other things, a post office, a YMCA, a supermarket, an auto dealership, banks, pharmacies, restaurants, coffee shops, a bakery, a hardware store, the offices of numerous doctors and dentists, and much more. The Ohio River Boulevard business strip supplements the Lincoln Avenue business district with its own mix of restaurants and automobile-related businesses. Now add in Bayne Library, Bayne Park, and Memorial Park and its swimming pool. Be you young or old, for a town of our size, Bellevue has a lot to offer anyone.
With all Bellevue has going for it, we should be thriving. That’s where the weaknesses come in. As one of Allegheny County’s more mature communities, we are blessed with a good stock of older, larger and moderately-priced homes. Unfortunately, too many absentee landlords have taken advantage of that to purchase property in Bellevue for personal profit without concern about the community as a whole. For example, as a regular early morning walker, many days I traverse the length of Bellevue from the bridge connecting us with Brighton Heights to Birmingham Avenue in Avalon and back. The lack of concern that absentee landlords have for Bellevue is most apparent in the wintertime on the days following a heavy snow. Far too many larger houses that have been converted to multi-unit rental properties do not bother to have someone clear their sidewalks – despite a Bellevue ordinance requiring it. And good weather or bad, trash and garbage are too often strewn about with no one caring enough to clean up. Think of the block you live on: I bet it is very easy to distinguish between the home owners that live here and those who don’t.
What would you propose to resolve the weaknesses/struggles?
We do not need necessarily need new ordinances; we do need to enforce existing, long-standing ordinances. For example, Bellevue requires snow removal 24 hours after snow has fallen. Bellevue has laws governing property maintenance. Laws concerning fire code regulations. And the list goes on. We need to see that these ordinances are enforced.
Also, we need to actively promote Bellevue as a great community to live in. Our residents shouldn’t be looking to leave Bellevue for greener pastures, we need to become the greener pasture to which people want to move. There is a great sign on Ohio River Boulevard welcoming people to Bellevue that says: “Live. Worship. Shop.” All of us need to collectively work together to make that a reality.
How do you see the council and school board working together in the future?
The futures of Bellevue, Avalon and the Northgate School District are closely linked. Regardless of whether you have a child in the Northgate District or not, if you are a property owner in Bellevue or Avalon, you are paying for our public schools. Yes, we all know that Northgate has among the highest tax rates of any school district in Allegheny County. We need to ensure that those tax dollars are spent effectively and efficiently. What can Bellevue Council do? Along with are counterparts on the Avalon Council, we should meet quarterly in an open session with public input with the Northgate School District to discuss matters of common concern and areas where we can better support each other.