A heated procedural discussion broke out among members of the city planning commission, just prior to its adjournment on Tuesday evening.
The commission had heard PITG Gaming's presentation of its master plan for approximately four hours, and had heard public comments from the Steelers, the Science Center and many others for another two.
During the final few comments, there was already a lot of shifting and whispering in the room, like when the class knows the bell's going to ring soon, and teacher is wrapping things up. The last few public speakers all joked about everyone's exhaustion.
Finally the Commission chairwoman made it solemn again, underscoring the massive importance, and massive complexity, of this development. She said six hour meetings aren't common -- asked the other members if they remember any -- and said it indicated the profundity of the whole undertaking.
The Chairwoman pretty much begged and pleaded with the parties -- Barden, the Steelers, the Pirates, the Science Center, the Riverlife Task Force, the University of Pittsburgh, the North Side / North Shore Leadership Conference, the Pittsburgh Design Coalition, and Mr. DeSantis of West Allegheny -- to work out their own differences, at least as much as possible, before the next meeting in May. Because then, time really becomes a factor.
Another lady on the planning commission, named Mistick (any relation?), offered a stirring speech about the possibilities and opportunities that good compromise will achieve. She also echoed the Chairwoman's urgings that the parties to reach out to one another, take initiative in solving these problems.
Shortly thereafter, another woman on the planning commission moved to speak. One could just tell it was going to get dark, and it did.
She suggested that with the special awesomeness of the undertaking before them, and with the undeniable time pressure, and with the major parties so very far apart -- maybe this Planning Commission should hold an extra meeting or two.
The Chairwoman started to speak dubiously of this idea, and as she spoke she scoped out the room, and saw everyone scowling a bit. Mistick was like, no thanks. This was a heavy six hour meeting, and these lawyers are costing people money, and you can't just keep jerking the multimillionaire around. (Actually, Mr. Barden and his people did not seem to fidget or mutter at the suggestion).
Anyway, the Chairwoman politely and firmly shot down this other woman's suggestion about amping up the Commission in light of this once-in-a-decade city planning conundrum. The moment the meeting adjourned, the woman, clearly showing frustration, reservedly stalked out of the room.
Editorial comment: We obviously don't know the players involved, but we found ourselves identifying with this last woman. After a six hour (very good!) meeting, the idea of scheduling a whole new meeting is always a tough sell. We acknowlege that the Planning Commission is busy with other things.
Yet we hope, as the dust settles, that all members of the City Planning Commission, including its chair, reconsider the wisdom of making this kind of extra push, during this most especially critical period in the history of city planning. Although Mayor Ravenstahl, and the task force that he chairs, are charged with forging these compromises over the next month, perhaps the attentions of the Planning Commission would help focus everybody's minds on a superlative outcome.