Pittsburgh City Council
August 24, 2018
End the Crookery at City Hall
On July 31, 2015, the Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA) filed an application with the State Department of Community and Economic Development (DCED) for a $3 million grant to build a roadway from the old Almono site in Hazelwood, through The Run and Panther Hollow, and to Pitt and CMU. The mayor kept this plan a secret from our two communities, clearly violating the state Sunshine Law.
Councilmen Kraus and O’Connor, The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, and our communities eventually received copies of the application. We were all deceived. Compared to the application on file at the DCED in Harrisburg, our copies were missing documents.
Among the missing pages was a letter from the mayor, asserting that the city “will be committing $400,000 in the 2017 budget for the construction of this project.”
Another missing page was from the URA Chair Kevin Acklin stating, “The URA will be committing $400,000 from our major projects budget to be used for the construction of this project.”
There were also discrepancies. The application asserted that the project would be a partnership between four entities, including with the University of Pittsburgh, but Pitt Chancellor Patrick Gallagher said he had no knowledge of the application. Who is telling the truth?
The application asserted that the land for this project is owned by the City of Pittsburgh. However, at the first community meeting, four months after the application was filed, Director of City Planning Ray Gastil stated that the roadway would traverse railroad property and a parking lot owned by Pitt in Panther Hollow. It is unscrupulous and unconscionable that the mayor and Pitt would use that lot, which exists because of a 1982 agreement with our community, for this roadway that would destroy our neighborhood.
Also, in the application and without any community input, Ray Gastil wrote a letter to the DCED on behalf of the Department of City Planning, supporting the roadway project.
Twice, we asked District Attorney Stephen Zappala to investigate this issue. He has chosen silence.
In his 16 years as a councilman and mayor, William Peduto has been a puppet of the University of Pittsburgh and always supported its uncontrolled growth that has severely devastated Oakland’s residential and business districts.
The assertions made in this deceptive application clearly indicate that the mayor believes our community’s voices are irrelevant and powerless. Nothing could be further from the truth. He continues to impose his will upon our community by attempting to build this roadway. Peduto must resign. Let’s end the crookery at city hall.