Photo: Gina Grone, executive director of the North Side/North Shore Chamber of Commerce, leads a Q&A session with District 1 Councilman Bobby Wilson at the Chamber’s “Food for Thought” lunch-and-learn series on Jan. 23 at Birgo Realty in Allegheny West.

Story and photos by Ashlee Green

Close to just 12 working days since the Northside’s new Councilman Bobby Wilson was sworn into office, he joined about 50 members and guests of the North Side/Shore Chamber of Commerce on Jan. 23 to share his plans for District 1 and continue to push residents to engage with their local government.

District 1 Councilman Bobby Wilson says it’s important for his office to build a good relationship with the Chamber because it will give small business owners a chance to thrive. Photo by Ashlee Green

“I’m excited to meet and organize with small business owners,” Councilman Wilson said in an interview with The Northside Chronicle before speaking to the group. “I think it’s gonna be a great opportunity to understand the system we’ll put in place in the Northside.”

The event, which took place at the office of Birgo Realty, a renovated former organ factory in Allegheny West, was part of the North Side/Shore Chamber of Commerce’s “Food for Thought” lunch-and-learn series. Lunch was provided by Mayfly Market & Deli, located in Allegheny City Central.

Grone leads a Q&A session with Councilman Wilson to ask how the Chamber and the Councilman’s office can better work together for the benefit of Northsiders. Photo by Ashlee Green

Councilman Wilson, sworn into office on Jan. 6, was appointed to the Land Use and Economic Development Committee, which oversees matters pertaining to permits, riverfront development, the Historic Review Commission, and zoning, among others. Chamber Executive Director Gina Grone led a Q&A session with Councilman Wilson, then opened the discussion up to questions from the audience.

One person asked about the parks tax referendum that passed in November’s election. He described City Council’s recent deliberation on how to allocate the Parks Trust Fund, generated through the referendum, to various parks throughout the city as “political football.”

Councilman Wilson responded by saying it’s important to trust the data and focus on improving parks that need an immediate fix. The conversation that is often getting lost, he said, is that some Council members are questioning the fate of park projects that were already “shovel-ready” before the referendum passed. That conversation, he said, is often getting lost.

Still, Councilman Wilson said he will aim to leverage the monies so that Riverview Park is at the center of city-wide park improvements.

Grone told the group that Northsiders can use this new City Council connection to the benefit of the entire Northside business community. Councilman Wilson agreed:

“A good partnership between the Chamber and my office is going to give small business owners the opportunity to thrive in the Northside,” he said in the pre-event interview.

“We work for you,” Councilman Wilson told the crowd. “The office is open.”

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