I love talking to former Pittston mayor Mike Lombardo. I really get where he’s coming from and, since the early 2000s, so does the nucleus of those governing the city.
The energy and excitement that emits from Mike when talking about Pittston is infectious. Actually, it’s not just Pittston — it’s Greater Pittston, as a whole.
I can call Mike at any given moment to ask a question about Pittston and, if he’s not available, he calls back in a respectable amount of time. He has to be the best public relations guy I know.
Typically a five-minute, two-question call turns into a 45-minute or one-hour call. I get so caught up in the fervor about what’s on the planning table that, before you know it, I’m offering my own suggestions for improvements. It’s crazy.
I’ve heard Mike described as a visionary and a community planning genius, but I see him as a dreamer full of wish lists. He’s a guy with ideas about what kind of city he would like Pittston to be, which, in many cases, reflects what the city was like in the past.
I also like to think of him as a mover and a shaker. A lot of his friends, including Lori Nocito, Jim Zarra, current Mayor Jason Klush, Joe McLean and others, also believed nearly two decades ago the time was right for change – and change for the better.
New facilities planned
In a recent phone call, Mike talked about the progress of the Pittston Festival Association’s headquarters, which will be built on the top level of the Tomato Festival grounds.
The new headquarters will house equipment needed to put on festivals and, according to Mike, could save volunteers at least 15 hours in setting up for events. The building will also house a dressing room and green room for musical acts to use prior to performing.
Why the need for dressing rooms or a green room? A top-notch facility is necessary for the city to sponsor a proposed three-day jazz festival sometime in 2017. Mike and friends sure are excited about this venture.
Mike hopes the festival will bring in national recording artists as well as local jazz talent with the hope of gaining national attention the way the Tomato Festival has over the years.
Recently, the Tomato Festival and Second Friday Art Walk committees merged to help broaden marketing ideas.
The 200-to-300-seat amphitheater planned for behind the Pittston Memorial Library is forging ahead. There are still details to iron out, but look for that to happen when the city gets the go-ahead.
The entertainment will continue with a proposed movie theater downtown where the current ambulance association is located. It could house as many as 250-300 people. Officials are still looking for a place to move the ambulance headquarters for this project to move forward.
Projects beyond downtown
It’s not just the downtown that will receive a boost, but Jefferson Park and the Pittston Little League area are expected to get a facelift through a parks and prosperity program to the tune of $750,000.
The Kennedy Boulevard area is currently undergoing streetscaping improvements and Mike is excited about special developments there.
Talks also include extending the walking trail along the river as well as repairing the Water Street Bridge light feature. The original installer of the lights is currently overseeing the project and repairs.
Now that a lot of long-range plans have been completed, like the addition to the condo next to Cooper’s and Fidelity Bank opening, former mayor Mike has more up his sleeve, including the second 10-year plan for the city. Stay tuned!
Memorial Day Parade
With Memorial Day right around the corner, Ron Gitkos of the West Pittston/Exeter Memorial Day Parade asks residents to proudly display U.S. flags during the month of May and come out on parade day to support everyone involved. The parade kicks off at 11:30 a.m. in West Pittston on May 30 and ends at Wyoming Area Catholic grounds with former state police Captain Carmen Altavilla as this year’s speaker.
Any civic organization interested in parading is asked to contact Ron at 570-654-2261.
Quote of the week
“There are some days when I think I’m going to die from an overdose of satisfaction.” – Salvador Dali, Spanish painter.
Thought of the week
“Great dancers aren’t great because of their technique; they are great because of their passion.” – Martha Graham, American dancer.
“Joy is the simplest form of gratitude.” – Karl Barth, Swiss theologian.
Tony Callaio’s column My Corner, Your Corner runs weekly in the Sunday Dispatch. He can be reached at [email protected]