Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Wednesday: Broad Visioning Strategy

Port Authority of Allegheny County will seek permission from federal officials to spend grant money typically used to improve its bus and light-rail network to cover cost overruns for the North Shore Connector. (Trib, Jim Ritchie)

We still want to hear the real story behind how we came to be blessed with this epic boondoggle from West Hades.

We know Onorato likes to call it the "Roddey Railroad", but we mean really, how did it come to pass? Our best guess is that whoever owns and operates the Giant Boring Machine wrote out about a dozen checks and laid them out across the table to county, state and federal officials like so many roulette wagers.


Legislation introduced Tuesday to City Council would give homeowners a month's notice to lodge a protest before city foresters remove hundreds of trees citywide identified as "structurally unsound." (Trib, Jeremy Boren)

You see? City Council. Doing things.

Pittsburgh City Council will discuss whether to try to charge suburbs for sewage that flows into the city's lines and the Allegheny County Sanitary Authority's plant in Marshall-Shadeland, Councilwoman Darlene Harris said yesterday. (P-G, Team Effort)

Increased revenues! Fiscal policy! Quick, hose us down!


The [URA] board also will vote on whether to assist in developing a master plan for the Hill District, and whether to sign on to a community benefits agreement to guide development of 28 acres near a new arena for the Pittsburgh Penguins. (Trib, Bonnie Pfister)

Hard to comment.

We're not wild about the tentative CBA on the table -- how any factions deemed politically undesirable were (and can continue to be) cut out of the "inclusive" community process, how the new agreement continues to be plagued with vagueness, and how it guarantees surprisingly little more than that which the rejected (and burned) city-county "proposal" did. Besides which, we have grown skeptical of how much can be accomplished by some document, particularly in the absence of inspired and committed leadership.

However, at the same time, One Hill went through all the trouble to negotiate, debate and ratify this agreement, even acting like good little neighbors by declining to protest during the playoffs. So it seems to us as though the government infrastructure should be sporting, sign onto to this thing, and prevail upon the Penguins to do same.

That much looks likely.

The master plan, [URA chairman Yarone Zober] said, will be a "broad visioning strategy" for the Hill and the 28-acre Mellon Arena site directly below it that the Penguins hope to redevelop once their new home opens before the 2010-11 season. It "puts the community in the driver's seat" in shaping the Hill's future, Mr. Zober said. (P-G, Mark Belko)

Not too broad, we hope. From the "outline" of the proposed CBA:

The Hill District Master Plan shall be developed from April 2008 to October 1, 2009. The Penguins shall not submit a Master Plan for the 28 acres until after this date.

So the Penguins still essentially get to develop the master plan for the entirety of the Lower Hill? Is that necessary? We know Ravenstahl's SEA negotiated away the development rights on that land in the arena lease and in the deal to keep the Pens in Pittsburgh, but can the city not take a more hands-on approach to determining the shape of that land?

Also from the CBA outline:

A Steering Committee of nine people will control this [Hill District Master Plan] process; four appointed by the Community, five by each of five public officials. No decision effective if there are more than 2 dissenting votes - this gives the Community veto power over any decisions.

Aside from this issue of who are the five and who are the four and how we determine that -- we can hear it now:

You'd better not veto this ... it's the best you're gonna get, and time's wasting ... if you don't approve this now, there will be no Hill District Master Plan and it'll be your fault, and the Pens will get carte blanche all over again, and you'll walk away with nothing at all ... take what you can get (which is little but the privilege of saying you're a part of this) and be thankful.

Man, it's fun to be following this story again.

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