New Ross commissioners plan to be active in township
By Kelsey Shea
Published: Wednesday, Jan. 8, 2014, 9:01 p.m.
Ross Township has three new commissioners, who all say they hope to play active roles in Ross Township's growth in the coming years.
Steve Korbel, Jeremy Shaffer and Paul Trilli come from different professional backgrounds, but all expressed interest improving Ross' commercial districts and parks and working on the comprehensive plan Ross officials will develop in 2014 that will determine land use and enable future development.
Korbel and Shaffer were elected Nov. 5 and were scheduled to be sworn in Jan. 6. Trilli was appointed and then sworn in after an emergency meeting of the township vacancy board Dec. 20. Korbel and Shaffer will serve four-year terms. Trilli will serve the two remaining years of his predecessor's term.
The three new commissioners will join David Mikec, Grace Stanko, Grant Montgomery, John Sponcer, Lana Mazur and Daniel DeMarco on Ross Township's governing body.
The commissioners approve ordinances, set policy, appoint department heads and other officials, and manage finances by setting the budget — this year $17.1 million — and tax rates in the township.
Here is a look at the three newcomers:
Korbel, 37, is a lawyer with the Downtown firm Babst Calland who specializes in public-sector and employment law. He replaced Chris Eyster as the 2nd Ward commissioner after being elected in November. Eyster did not run for re-election.
“I ran because I felt that my skill set as a municipal attorney would be of benefit to the township,” Korbel said. “I'm very interested in serving the public, and I thought this was a good opportunity.”
Korbel moved to Ross in May 2005 after living in the Mexican War Streets on the North Side. He has served on the North Hills School District's public budget committee, on Ross Township's joint economic board with the school district and West View, and also as the president of the White Oak Heights Civic Association in Ross.
During his four-year term, Korbel said, he plans to assist with economic development and the redevelopment of vacant land that separates commercial districts from residential districts, which he hopes will be repurposed as green space.
Korbel, a Democrat, said he is particularly interested in development along McKnight Road, specifically the former Sam's Club property north of the intersection of McKnight and Siebert roads and the high-vacancy Shoppes at Northway on the township's northern border.
“In a community like ours, where we don't have large residential subdivisions going up every year, it's important that we expand the tax base through strategic commercial development and redevelopment,” Korbel said.
Constituents can reach Korbel at firstname.lastname@example.org or 412-600-6798.
Shaffer, 36, replaced Pete Ferraro as the 8th Ward commissioner. Ferraro did not run for re-election.
Shaffer works as a software manager at Bentley Systems on Pittsburgh's North Shore and has been a Ross resident for four and a half years after living in the city's Greenfield neighborhood.
He has served on the Northland Public Library Foundation Board, is a member of Bike Pittsburgh and volunteers as a youth soccer and basketball coach.
“I decided to run for office because he wanted to make Ross a better township for my family and my neighbors,” Shaffer said.
Shaffer, a Republican, said bringing in responsible development that is bicyclist friendly and pedestrian friendly to Ross will be a focus of his four-year term
“I would like to develop a comprehensive plan for the township as a whole, especially for the McKnight and Babcock corridors,” he said.
Shaffer said he also will strive to make Ross' government more open and transparent and will encourage Ross residents to get more involved in their community.
He said upcoming development, parks projects and the creation of Ross' comprehensive plan make 2014 “poised to be an interesting year” in the township.
Shaffer can be reached at email@example.com.
Paul Trilli, 53, replaced 7th Ward commissioner Gerald O'Brien, who resigned in November after being elected to serve as the township's tax collector.
As a 25-year resident of Ross Township, Trilli said, he plans to prioritize initiatives that draw new residents to Ross, improve public safety and open lines of communication during the remaining two years of O'Brien's term.
“It's a wonderful township,” Trilli said. “I want our next generation to grow roots here.”
Trilli, a Democrat, works as the Aramark operations director at Heinz Field on Pittsburgh's North Shore and unsuccessfully ran against O'Brien for commissioner in the 2011 primary.
He said he hopes that his experience forecasting budgets, overseeing 700 employees, and setting policies and procedures at Aramark will translate well to the position of commissioner.
“I want to utilize experience and passion for the township,” Trilli said.
He said he wants to promote public safety, parks and recreation and community activities in the township.
Trilli encourages residents to contact him through his township email address, firstname.lastname@example.org.
Kelsey Shea is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 724-772-6353 or email@example.com.
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