John Trant and Chelsea Puff

John Trant and Chelsea Puff of Strategic Solutions, LLC

Mt. Lebanon Commission has identified a list of priority projects for 2021, and the selection process was far more involved than simply filling wish lists.

During the commission’s March 23 discussion session, the projects were announced as:

  • Continuing the municipal diversity, equity and inclusion initiative;
  • Developing a master plan for Mt. Lebanon parks and conducting a feasibility study for the recreation center;
  • Redesigning the municipal website;
  • Restructuring municipal advisory boards;
  • Advancing the first phase of the Vibrant Uptown improvement project in the Washington Road business district;
  • Amending the overnight parking section of the municipal code and implementing the changes.

Consulting firm Strategic Solutions LLC, based in Mt. Lebanon, worked with municipal officials to prioritize and make choices, primarily during a six-hour workshop meeting via Zoom in February.

“The goal was to narrow down the long list of projects that were identified by department heads, as well as commissioners, to five,” said John Trant, Strategic Solutions founder and president. “We ended up with six, so we’ll call that close enough.”

He said the procedure entailed both scientific and subjective elements.

“We wanted to make sure we had a deliberate process for evaluating each of the projects from a purely analytical standpoint,” he said, plus taking into consideration “the capacity that Mt. Lebanon has and of the priorities of the community. So there’s an art to it, as well, in the sense of standing back and taking a look at the list. We did that at the beginning, and we did that at the end.”

The analytical component involved a weighted point system by which commissioners came up with a list of projects that ranked the highest.

“We had a further discussion on what each of those top 10 projects were and whether they were implementable this year or next year, if they had the highest community impact, if it made sense for those projects to rank in the top,” said Chelsea Puff, Strategic Solutions project manager.

The discussion resulted in some shuffling of the rankings, with some projects falling out of the six that were selected. Coming up slightly short are developing an environmental sustainability and climate action plan, completing a comprehensive streets policy, conducting an operational review of the recreation department and pursuing certification in the EcoDistricts program, a comprehensive framework to guide urban and community development.

“The goal is that those projects will be part of the list to start this process next year,” Trant said.

Considerations with regard to this year’s projects included the potential impact on municipal staff members.

“There was a very thoughtful process, particularly from the management team at Mt. Lebanon, to be deliberative about identifying what is our capacity in terms of planning for the project,” Trant said. “None of these projects is ready to just flip a switch and say go. All of them are going to require some preimplementation staffing resources.

“We also recognized that once a project is complete, most often that project isn’t static,” he continued. “There is likely going to be needing of additional capacity beyond implementation to ensure the sustainability and the viability of that project moving forward for the municipality.”

Multimedia Reporter

Staff writer Harry Funk, a professional journalist for three-plus decades, has been on the staff of The Almanac since 2015. He has a bachelor’s degree in journalism and master of business administration, both from Indiana University of Pennsylvania.

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