The new Hub of West View isn’t just a library and community center. It’s also a monument to the borough’s unique heritage.
The building itself is a repurposed PNC Bank branch on Perrysville Avenue with the marble teller windows still intact. The main area is dotted with murals and memorabilia from the dearly departed West View Park, an amusement park that closed in 1977.
“West View is a very vibrant community,” says Scott Pavlot, executive director of the newly formed Community Life Enrichment Foundation, which oversees the project. “It has a lot of strong history.”
On June 5 at 6 p.m., West View residents will have a chance to learn that history and plot a course for the future when The Hub officially opens its doors with a community event featuring tours of the facility, performances by North Hills High School students and refreshments.
In addition to offering a community library of 7,500 books and counting, The Hub includes a food pantry and a wide variety 0f health and social services from established local partners, including North Hills Cares, North Hills Community Outreach, the Allegheny Intermediate Unit and North Hills School District.
“It’s a true community resource,” says Pavlot.
To create unique spaces for young children, they turned the bank’s vault into a reading room and purchased a section of a Boeing 727 replica from a local Netflix prop sale to use as a creative space.
“We’re turning that into a little kids’ theater, where they can come in and watch documentaries,” explains Pavlot with pride.
For adults, they turned the series of teller windows into a row of public computers and installed free wi-fi on the premises. In the next several months, The Hub will add courses and counseling on financial management and job interview techniques.
“My hope is that by pulling in the businesses and making them a part of this project, it will help them as well,” says Pavlot.
While Pavlot now lives in Pine, he is a proud native of West View. And his wife works as a nurse at the local elementary school.
Speaking to NEXTpittsburgh, Pavlot says that he and his wife had been discussing such a civic-minded space for several years when they learned last year about community grants available through the Ethel Varney Foundation, which provides support for Lutheran groups in Southwest Pennsylvania.
The foundation’s $69,000 will cover the rent for the 2,900-square-foot building, which is owned by the borough. It will also cover salaries for two full-time staff members for the next year.
In the meantime, Pavlot says his new Community Life Enrichment Foundation will apply for official nonprofit status, which could greatly expand The Hub’s fundraising options.
Beyond getting The Hub on more stable financial footing, Pavlot says his main goal as executive director is to reach a point where the borough, not his foundation, is steering the project.
“I was just lucky to be part of the catalyst that got it started,” he says. “Over time, the true offerings will be defined by the community. This is just a starting point.”