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Pittsburgh, Wilkinsburg residents voice concerns about possible annexation

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Residents from both Pittsburgh and Wilkinsburg urged Pittsburgh City Council on Tuesday night to vote no on a proposed annexation of the borough by the city.

Many who spoke out against the proposal said Pittsburgh has its own issues, like roads that need repaired, blighted properties, and gentrification.

They included Stephanie Cook of Wilkinsburg.

"I do believe ... that Pittsburgh has its own issues," she said. "Until you take care of your own issues, you should not even think about taking on someone else's issues."

Cook said the city needs to consider its plans for education, especially for Black students, addressing opioid issues, roads and infrastructure, and addressing racial issues.

"With the snow, the side streets are totally ignored as if people don't live on them," she said. "...And Pittsburgh is known for its horrible racism. They need to address these four things before they think about taking care of Wilkinsburg."

However, Bud Wise, a Squirrel Hill resident and Wilkinsburg native, said he supports the annexation.

"I believe this is a clear win-win opportunity," he said. "In Pittsburgh, this is a rare opportunity to increase our population ... In addition, since Wilkinsburg is a majority minority community, the city would become more diverse, something we all value."

Wise said absorbing the borough into city would provide Wilkinsburg residents access to Pittsburgh Public Schools, as well as its public safety and public works departments.

"For Wilkinsburg this is an opportunity to stop the trend of its decline," he said.

But many who opposed it said Wilkinsburg could sustain itself.

The issue is now in council's hands, where the legislation for the proposed annexation has yet to be introduced. However, a court order requires council to vote on the issue by April.

Born and raised in Birmingham, Ala., Ariel finally made a “big move” 45 minutes down the interstate to the University of Alabama where she studied Journalism and International Studies. During her time in college she interned with Tuscaloosa News, a daily newspaper in her college town. After college, she got her first job back in her hometown with Birmingham Times, a weekly where she served as reporter and editor. Ariel made an even bigger move to Pittsburgh and joined the 90.5 WESA family as digital producer. She is adjusting to experiencing actual cold weather.
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