Longtime Sewickley councilman reflects on two decades of service
After two decades in public office in Sewickley, Bob Hague will step away from an elected position.
“It's definitely mixed feelings,” Hague, 56, said. “I'm excited to be going in some different directions — professionally as well. I definitely feel sadness to leave. There are a lot of things I'd like to see continue.”
When he reflects on his 20 years on council, Hague focuses on the work he was part of with other council members.
“Every accomplishment is a team thing with council,” he said. “I'm just one vote, even as president.”
Notable accomplishments during his tenure include a focus on road repairs and updating a waste water treatment facility, he said.
“My first year, council made the first commitment to revamping the waste water treatment plant, which hadn't been touched in 40 years since it had been initially built,” he said.
“We brought it to a regional thing. It's been a very difficult issue, but in the end, for the rivers and the communities, it's going to be a very, very good thing.”
Hague said a focus on roads years ago meant council members and borough leaders ranked streets on conditions, allowing specific areas to be targeted for repair.
“There's no way we're ever going to get ahead,” he said.
“But we've made a commitment every year to put a significant amount of money (toward roads).”
He also noted council's work to continue fully funding pension programs for borough employees.
Over the course of his tenure on council, the biggest complaint has revolved around parking.
“I do know that in 20 years, the one most constant complaint is parking, but … everybody has a different point of view,” he said. “The businesses sometimes blame us. People always threaten they're never going to come back and shop again.”
A study expected to be released next month could offer insight into future parking needs, including the possibility of a public garage. Hague said that study is an important step into creating a new solution for parking.
“Parking studies will show there's not a parking problem right now, but that's not looking to the future, and that's hopefully what this study will look at,” he said. “There's going to be a problem building buildings that will sustain work forces and park them at the same time.”
A small business center is part of what makes Sewickley unique, Hague said.
He noted the continued push to make Sewickley a destination for events, including Light Up Night and Memorial Day weekend.
“If Sewickley's going to continue to be successful, we need not only those, but more,” he said. “We need to really tell people this is why you should come to Sewickley.”
Hague said one constant has been change — to the business district and borough as a whole.
“There's been a lot of businesses changed in 20 years, but I'd say that's more the norm for small-town entrepreneurial ventures,” he said. “It's been nice to see more restaurants … coming into the area.
“People are resistant to big changes here, so things do happen slowly. People have a right to be concerned about big change and how it's going to affect the community and their own property.”
A social studies teacher at Quaker Valley High School, Hague said he always thought of getting involved with politics, but didn't do so until he was approached.
“The Republican committee was looking for somebody to run,” he said. “I don't know who recommended me from in the committee, but I got a call from the head of the committee and asked if I was interested. I guess it was the moment I was waiting for.”
Serving as an elected leader was his way of giving back to a community he has enjoyed living in, Hague said.
“I felt so much more a part of the community,” he said.
“It was always enjoyable to go to these events and talk to the police officers and public works guys, and to know you're part of the decisions.
“When you looked at the road projects being done and the sewer project being done … I've been a part of making the community better.
“People can volunteer through their church or the food bank. My volunteer was to help in the community, and I've enjoyed every minute of it. I wish we did have more people (who got involved).
“It always disappoints me when, in three out of the five elections, I was unopposed. It made it easy for getting re-elected, but four years ago when I was opposed, I worked harder. If my vision for Sewickley isn't right, the community should have a choice. That's what we're supposed to do.”
Hague plans a move to Fox Chapel soon and will retire from Quaker Valley at the end of the school year, he said.
“I came to this community and I've loved this community,” Hague said. “I am deeply sorry to leave this community.”
Bobby Cherry is an associate editor for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-324-1408 or email@example.com.