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Reader’s Viewpoint: Better Days Still Ahead

By Submitted Report
The Tube City Almanac
February 09, 2023
Posted in: Commentary-Editorial

(Submitted photo courtesy of Jonathan Stark)

Jonathan Stark is the owner of the People’s Bank Building and the Executive Building, Downtown, as well as several other commercial and residential properties around the city. He writes:

I’m not originally from McKeesport. When I try to explain to people why I love McKeesport, they don’t understand. They aren’t from McKeesport.

When my wife Jen and I moved to neighboring White Oak in 2005, I remember being totally impressed with the old architecture, beautiful homes and the stories about what many would agree was the best city in Allegheny County to grow up in at one time.

I was intrigued. I had never seen anything like it where I grew up in Westmoreland County.

I remember introducing myself to a few police officers when I bought my first downtown building in 2008 and asked them what I should expect. They told me that it’s a big city and has all the same problems that any big city has. I got to know those officers and became good friends with many of them and other firefighters, EMS, local politicians and residents.

Despite being a large city, I immediately realized that everyone knew everyone else and many were connected in some way. There were so many good people here that had a lot of pride in their community. All salt of the earth.

As I started investing and getting to know more people, I started to feel a connection to the city that I still can’t explain. I’m good at fixing property Although I can’t fix the city’s problems, it’s been my small contribution to help make the city a better place.

A lot of people have asked me over the years why I’ve chosen McKeesport to invest all my time, money and effort into.

They’re not from McKeesport. They wouldn’t understand.

In the 10 years I’ve been working Downtown, I’ve helped bring dozens of new businesses of all types, ethnicities and genders to McKeesport. I’m really proud of that. HVAC companies, barber shops, salons, multiple eateries, health facilities, my old granite shop and many more.

Those businesses see all the same potential that I see. Some are white-owned. Some are Black-owned. Some are something else. Many are women-owned.

It doesn’t really matter to me. I feel that our business district should be a reflection of the entrepreneurs and people that actually live here. And it is.

Many years ago now, I had a revelation I was no longer an outsider. The community had embraced me and I realized that I spend more time here than at home. I feel the same connection to the community, to the businesses and institutions and the people that they do. It’s those people that truly make McKeesport special to me. Some of the best people I know in the world call McKeesport home and that’s why it’s home to me too.

I left work on Monday feeling defeated for my friends in law enforcement and heartache for the entire community. It’s a tragedy. Officer Sluganski’s family is forever changed. The lives of his friends and those he worked with are forever changed. Yet those men and women on the police department will still go to work every day, understanding the risks they face and they’ll do their job.

I’ve spoken to a number of people that aren’t from the area recently that have tried to offer condolences but in many cases they are tied to an offhand comment or slight about our city.

McKeesport’s perception is just that. Perception. I don’t share the perception outsiders have because I know what they don’t know. Unfortunately, another person’s perception is their own reality and I do accept that. I’ve thought about trying to explain why McKeesport means what it means to me but I can’t bring myself to make an effort.

You’re not from McKeesport. You wouldn’t understand. Better days are still ahead.

Jonathan Stark is a business owner and developer. This commentary originally appeared on Facebook and is reprinted with permission.

Tube City Community Media is committed to printing viewpoints from residents of the McKeesport area and surrounding municipalities. Commentaries are accepted at the discretion of the editor and may be edited for content or length.

To submit a commentary for consideration, please write to Tube City Online, 409 Walnut St., Suite 200, McKeesport, PA 15134, or email tubecitytiger at gmail dot com. Include contact information and your real name. A pen name may be substituted with approval of the editor in those cases when revealing the person’s true name would jeopardize their safety or welfare.

Originally published February 09, 2023.

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