Laurelmountainboro's Weblog

February 5, 2008


Filed under: STORIES/NEWS — laurelmountainboro @ 1:57 am

Within a week of setting up the online Laurel Mountain Boro & Park Newsletter (April 2007) I was contacted by Mark Conrad, a resident of San Francisco working on a research project at Harvard University. Subsequently, he sent me a letter explaining his work.

As a law school student he took a course called Local Government Law. One of its topics was the incorporation of municipalities. He discovered there is very little information on this topic. Although there is a theme throughout academic literature that metropolitan areas are “fragmenting” into smaller and smaller units of local government, there is very little empirical research on this subject.

Since answers to many of the questions he asked me are in the two articles, Laurel Mountain Park: Residents Remember and Laurel Mountain Borough: Residents Remember, I sent him a copy of each. These articles I wrote were published in the 2001 summer and fall editions of the Westmoreland County Historical Society magazine, Westmoreland History.

Mark wrote:

“My professor and I decided to launch a project that examines what is actually going on at the local level—how often incorporation occurs, at what rate metropolitan areas are actually fragmenting and so on. To do this research, we’ve been studying census data from the fifty largest metropolitan statistical areas. (An MSA {Metropolitan Statistical Area} as defined by the Census Bureau, usually covers the counties adjacent to a major city, and sometimes extends for hundreds of miles around the city.) We’re trying to find out the rates of population growth in unincorporated territory and compare it to the growth in incorporated territory. We’re also trying to find out when all the various municipal entities within the MSAs were incorporated. This last task has turned out to be a daunting one, since there is no comprehensive source that I’ve been able to find that provides that information. As a result, I’ve had to do quite a bit of research on my own—including calling small incorporated entities such as Laurel Mountain Borough, which is within the Pittsburgh metropolitan statistical area, to try to gather the necessary data.”

Mark’s project has been a year or two in the making because of the time it’s taken to gather all the data. The researchers are “tying up loose ends now, chasing down all those elusive incorporation dates in out-of-the-way places.

“Finally, it feels like we’re getting closer to trying to synthesize the information we’ve gathered and taking a look at what it all means.

“I’ll be sure to keep you apprised of our results.”

And I’ll post future information I receive on the project in the LMBoroLMPark newsletter. —written by Carolyn C. Holland


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