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Wilkinsburg Leaders Say More Community Dialogue Is Needed During Pittsburgh Merger Talks

WILKINSBURG, Pa. (KDKA) -- There will not be a referendum on the ballot this fall to add Wilkinsburg to the city of Pittsburgh.

On Monday, the Wilkinsburg Community Development Corporation and Mayor Marita Garrett announced a referendum to merge the city and borough will be delayed until at least next spring's election cycle.

Residents KDKA spoke to said they were excited about what a merger could bring.

"Create more through traffic into Wilkinsburg," said Jay Pitser. "I see a lot of development ends at the cut-off point. So I think that would help bring that further into this area so that everyone in this area could benefit."

(Photo Credit: KDKA)

Eight hundred signatures were collected for a ballot referendum originally proposed for this November, but officials in the borough felt more community dialogue is needed.

The borough already shares services with the city, but many elected officials have voiced concern about being left out of other economic opportunities.

Residents KDKA spoke to agree.

"Revenue, opportunities, job growth," said Allan Daniels. "I have never seen so many abandoned houses in my life. So I think it is a good idea for them to merge with Pittsburgh."

In a release Monday, Mayor Garrett called the city's tax rate oppressive and the borough needs job creation along with existing shared services with the city in order for the borough to reach its full potential.

Wilkinsburg Borough Council, which does not get a say in the process, previously voted 2-1 against a merger. The council was concerned about gentrification and keeping local services accessible for residents.

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