On Wednesday, the SPC hosted a public meeting to gather input on amending its transportation plans to reflect the Penguins’ proposals in the Lower Hill, such that the SEA may qualify for a $21 million federal TIGER transportation grant.
In answer to our own question, an SEA representative said the function of Street 4 is to provide additional “frontage” for the development parcel. That cul-de-sac will increase the desirability and profitability of nearby development, but provide little transportation benefit.
Members of the Hill District Consensus Group and allies arrived to oppose the application for further “public subsidy for the Pittsburgh Penguins” above the $750 million previously awarded, without the following:
- Adherence to the Greater Hill District Master Plan, particularly with respect to minimizing parking impacts and providing community transit options
- Funding for the Curtain Call public art project
- Community control of street and place naming
- 30% of housing on site to be “affordable” for low-income residents
- 20% of commercial space on site to be available for ownership by Hill District businesses
- Community Improvement Fund funded by Dollar A Car
Separately, Marimba Milliones representing the Hill CDC asked the panel to condition its approval upon the Penguins’ signing an enforceable “community collaboration and implementation plan” — although the TIGER grant application itself includes a letter from the Hill CDC in unqualified support.
According to Milliones, such a community collaboration and implementation plan is still being negotiated between the Penguins and City Councilman Daniel Lavelle, the Hill CDC and the “Lower Hill District Working Group”. Drafts or previews of what is being sought after in this accord are not available.
Carl Redwood of the Hill District Consensus Group characterizes that negotiating team as Milliones, Lavelle, and former councilman Sala Udin alone. He says representation of his own group was invited to participate in that process, but would have been made to sign a confidentiality agreement and so declined. However he emphasized that his group’s efforts support what the other is trying to do and vice-versa.
|Randy Bish, Trib|
Milliones’ public commentary also recalled the “no bid” award to the Penguins of development rights all around the Civic Arena footprint, conjuring old questions about how do these deals “saving” sports franchises get exempted from so much that is fair, routine and ordinarily required in public business.
Although the team’s Preliminary Land Development Plan and its Special Zoning proposal have yet to make it through the City Planning Commission and City Council — meaning technically, nobody yet knows what will become of the land we are servicing with these new roads — representatives of the SEA said that they cannot wait in applying for a TIGER transportation grant, as it only comes once a year and the Penguins are on the clock to begin developing parcels.
If the grant gets awarded, the consequences of “losing” that $21 million will probably weigh heavily on remaining City Planning decisions, and therefore the community will again lose its leverage with the Penguins in seeking its objectives.
Not one of the approximately twenty speakers at the meeting expressed straightforward support. Written comments are still being accepted until Sept. 11.