The Center for Coalfield Justice recently notified members who live in Canonsburg that the Borough was holding a public meeting on Monday February 24th regarding Economic Development initiatives and was looking for public input. The meeting was featured in the Observer-Reporter, where the Borough cited that the President of the Chamber of Commerce, Jeff Kotula, would be there and giving remarks. Given that Mr. Kotula is an avid supporter of the oil and gas industry, we suggested residents attend and share their interests and hopes for the future of Canonsburg. Many local business owners and CCJ members turned out to the meeting and provided public comments to their local government.
Potential ideas for the future included ideas such as having more events to boost local commerce, forgivable loan services, LSA (Local Share Account) Grant opportunities, repurposing the Canonsburg Middle School property, the opening of Amerisource Specialty Metals, small business lending and support, and addressing blight across the community.
Local residents from diverse backgrounds and age groups talked about their desires for a diverse economy that supports local small business and the health and prosperity of the community. A popular topic was how to make Canonsburg a place to retain and attract young people. Additionally, Canonsburg is in a unique position for growth because of its location along a major highway and because of the infrastructure, history, and community that already exists in the town. However, a legacy of industrial production downtown and a changing economy has led to aging infrastructure, poverty, and flight from the area. Additionally, while Marcellus Shale drilling has funneled some money and jobs back into the area, the negative impacts of long term pollution, infrastructure degradation, and decline in overall community well-being from industrial activity in close proximity to residential areas is ever looming.
We are grateful that the borough has so kindly welcomed and given opportunity to community members to share their insights. This same discussion is happening in many other small towns in our region and the only way to make your voice heard is by attending the meetings and connecting with your community.
Canonsburg Borough Council Meetings are scheduled at 6:30 PM on:
First Monday of the Month – Agenda Meeting
Second Monday of the Month – Voting Meeting
Located in the Council Chambers on the second floor of the Borough Building
If you’d like to know more about meetings in your area or need support in sharing your insight to your local government, you can contact Heaven Sensky at Heaven@centerforcoalfieldjustice.org or by calling 724-229-3550 Ext 103
For updates on future meetings; you can join our email list by clicking here.
The following is a public comment made at the meeting by CCJ’s Kristen Locy:
Hello, my name is Kristen Locy and I have been a resident of Canonsburg my whole life; I was a 2014 graduate of Canon McMillan. I currently work for the Center for Coalfield Justice.
The Center for Coalfield Justice has over 40 members living in Canonsburg. CCJ has been working with residents in Washington and Greene Counties over the last 25 years to improve and protect their communities. Over the last few years, we have expanded our work into economic justice. We have done so because for those of us living on the frontlines of fossil fuel extraction, including in Canonsburg, climate and environmental justice is inseparable from economic justice. If we consider energy, we must also consider the people involved in and affected by the energy industry. That said; it is imperative that we invest in a more diverse economy than the one we have now in order to build resilience to environmental change. This includes investment in infrastructure that will allow continued growth, including stormwater management and quality public water standards.
We implore the borough of Canonsburg to invest in the revitalization of Pike Street, to limit the truck traffic of industry in town, and to continue on its track to make Canonsburg a place where small businesses and community can thrive.
Our environmental health is deeply connected to the economic development in our communities. As Canonsburg works to improve its main street and overall economy, these intersections must be considered. We must make our community a healthy place for people, families and business to grow in.
Our communities have withstood the test of boom and bust economies driven by the fossil fuel industry and manufacturing many times before, and we are energized to work together to ensure that the place we call home continues to thrive.
CCJ members are ready and willing to volunteer and to support local change.
Thank you for your time.