Friday, December 03, 1999

Christmas Letter -- 1999

Happy Holidays 1999 from the Palmer/Rauterkus family
108 South 12th Street Pittsburgh, PA 15203
Mark@SportSurf.Net cvp@vms.cis.pitt.edu

This year has been full of family fun and adventure.

Catherine continued to hold two positions at the University of Pittsburgh. One as a faculty member in the Communication Science and Disorders Department -- teaching and running a research laboratory. The other as the Director of Audiology and Hearing Aids at the University Medical Center. A year into this new combination still shows a love of the challenge and the new responsibilities. Being recognized with the Dean's Distinguished Teaching Award was an honor this year.

Mark continued in his commitment to be home for Erik and Grant. They are happy, confident, and self-assured boys because of it. As if this isn't enough, Mark took on several social action projects throughout the year and became a regular on TV while addressing Pittsubrgh's City Council. Although not all of the causes went our way (it looks like they will be taking down Pitt Stadium), it made the whole family proud to know that Daddy was helping with his input into the future of the city. Mark's grumble, "Feudal Pittsburgh."

Mark started to venture back into swim coaching as Grant started pre-school three days per week in the fall. Our schedules don't always quite work, but coaching is clearly Mark's calling and the swimmers are lucky to have him back. Of course, his coaching never really stopped with Erik swimming width-wise across the pool and Grant jumping in and swimming to a waiting parent. Grant can now be heard calling from the side of the pool, "move back, move back" as he propels himself into the water. Mark went to San Diego for a coaching conference, renewing a lot of old friendships.

Erik is a bright, sensitive five-year old attending pre-school three days a week. Erik and Catherine just began Suzuki Violin and are having a wonderful time with it. A block away from our house is the Market House, a wonderful athletic programs for tykes. Erik has enjoyed baseball, soccer, and hockey as well as ice and in-line skating. Grant is a rough and ready two-year old attending the same pre-school and loving it that brother is only a classroom away. Grant has a wonderful sense of humor and keeps us in stitches most of the time. Judging from his sense of adventure and lack of fear, he also may be in stitches! Grant is part thud, part butterflyer. The boys spent many joyful summer hours in Grandma's back yard (across from our house) playing in the wading pool, discovering bugs, writing with chalk and playing with balls.

Last year was a home year -- and this year we traveled. We worked and visited coast-to-coast in 99.

In March, Catherine ventured to Vermont to lead a workshop. That was the first return there since Uncle Sam and Aunt Barbara got married. It went so well that another group asked for a return visit/lecture. So, the whole family went back to Vermont in the fall. It was a three state adventure that allowed a wonderful celebration of Erik's 5th birthday along with visits to Grandpa (Maine), Aunt Pat, Uncle Charlie, and cousin Sandy (Wellsley, MA), a close UMASS friend (P in Southborough, MA), and then finally Burlington, Vermont. Catherine spoke and the family got to catch up with cousin Susan.

Catherine had a great visit with Aunt Debbi in Florida and Aunt Debbi made it to Pittsburgh to see the rest of the family later in the summer. She is a special Aunt, Great Aunt, and Godmother to Grant.

Erik, Grant, and Mommy decided to take Daddy to Chicago for his 40th birthday in May. We traveled with a babysitter and had a wonderful celebration of Mark's birthday and our good friend's 10th wedding anniversary. We were able to catch up with Northwestern friends during the trip. After years of combining work and vacation, the family went to a week long camp: the Southern Unitarian Universalist Summer Institute (SUUSI). What a magical week for everybody - music, fun, spiritual enrichment. Best of all, cousin Cameron from Connecticut agreed to make the trip with us. Now we expect this to be an annual event.

October saw us back at Mark's sisters annual Hootenanny (eastern PA) and we all slept in a tent -- the boys loved it!

Another conference took Catherine to San Francisco in November and Ed, Lori (Erik's godparents) and Margaret and Gerrit Bratt were wonderful hosts during meeting breaks.

There were several nice visits with Uncle Bob who has a standing monthly call with Erik where they discuss the pros and cons of "The Force" and depending on droids. Both are big Star Wars fans!.

The coming year will see a family trip to Arizona for a little work and lots of play with friends who moved out there from Pittsburgh. The family also will wave bye to Catherine for another solo trip, to Chicago were she is in charge of the research portion of the national Audiology conference. In June 2000, Mark and Catherine are going without the boys to Prague and Vienna for a little work and play.

We hope you will let us know if you are coming near or by Pittsburgh - we'd love to see you.

The extended family was made larger by cousin Katie's birth. We are soon to add a baby from the Majewski family and one from the McLaughlin family. Erik and Grant will boast 11 cousins in all and every one of them fun to play with!

We will be bringing in the New Year with Grandma and Cousin Cameron who will come in from Connecticut. Have a happy, healthy, and safe Y2K.

Thursday, April 08, 1999

Pitt News, front page headline with photo (of me) Pitt fan poised to stop stadium demolition and UPMC facility

My photo ran on the front page of the Pitt News, Thursday, April 8, 1999. Here is the story, retyped.
Hal Turner, Editor in Chief

If a South Side Pitt fan gets his way, about $100 million worth of Pittsburgh sports developments will be postponed or canceled.

Mark Rauterkus handed City Council members three ring binders filled with the lyrics to Pitt's alma mater, the Pitt victory song and "Hail to Pitt" - and about 90 reasons not to cary out the athletics department's plans.

The University of Pittsburgh Medical Center is planning a $30 million Pitt/Steelers practice and rehabilitation facility on a former steel mill site, the LTV site, in Rauterkus' neighborhood. If the facility is not built, it could put the brakes on Pitt's proposed stadium demolition.

But Rauterkus is vehemently opposing the entire plan, saying the time constraints are limiting the number of avenues Pitt, UPMC and the city Urban Redevelopment Agency are willing ton consider. Rauterkus collected the signature necessary to ask City Council for the special public hearing, the begged the council to not permit the practice facility's construction.

"We need a swift, stern message from City Council to go out to Pitt, UPMC, and the URA and the other power that be," Rauterkus said. "Their plans possess fatal flaws. The outcomes come up short. The citizens demand more."

No Pitt or UPMC representative was at the hearing. City Council President Bob O'Connor assured Rauterkus that all groups involved could make their case to the council later and debate before the nine members vote on the side of th LTV land to UPMC."

Rauterkus contends the facility would slam the whole region with problems, not just the South Side.

First, he said, the site is too small. Eighty-yard indoor fields will be built, similar to the field at Pitt's Cost Center, when two years ago a Pitt football player broke his neck running into a wall.

Second, the timing is bad considering the delays Pittsburgh is about to endure during extensive road consturction around Downtown. Pittsburgh will be gridlock, Rauterkus said, and this construction can only add to the problems.

The project upsets South Side residents worried about taxes, noise, bright lights, crowds and traffic; it worries Pitt students who want to see Pitt sports headquartered on campus; and it conflicts with several NCAA rules about college and professional teams sharing space, he said.

Rauterkus and NCAA officials have hinted that violations can be avoided, but Rauterkus believes it can only come at a great price involving too many scheduling sacrifices on the student-athletes' part.

Jerry Dettory, a represntative of the URA, said the neighborhood residents will no longer need to worry that the nonprofit, tax-exempt UPMC won't have to pay taxes. The company has agreede to make payments as though it weren't tax-exempt.

Also, UPMC will offer $75,000 to the South Side Planning Forum to distribute as it sees fit among neighobhood projects.

The indoor facilities will be available to public groups, such as football camps and YMCA special events, and Pitt, UPMC and the Steelers often will be involved, Dettory said.

He added that while the plans may seem inadequate to some now, no definite blueprints have been drawn up.

"There is no final plan," he said. "It


The article ends in mid-statement. Not typo on the blog. The article will be put into its rightful date in a few days.

The 'blast from the past' re-looks at an issue that got my blood to a boil about politics. This was my first big brush with Bob O'Connor and those on city council. At the time, Michael Diven was on council too. Diven was a football player as well.

At the time, in the hearing, much was said beyond the snip of news coverage. I didn't stress problems with traffic and downtown being torn apart (Ft. Pitt Bridge, North Side Stadiums, Convention Center construction, no Hot Metal Bridge yet (nor pedestrian passings on the Hot Metal Bridge (still not completed).

The one suggestion as an alternative was to put a temporary practice facility on the site and then move the Steelers to a long-term home, along with Dr. Fu and UPMC in the top floors of parking garages on the North Side. Then the Steelers would have been able to stay, long term, at or near the North Side's stadium. Plus, the parking garages would have been put on a fast track.

Georgetown's football team in DC practices on a football field built on the roof of a parking garage.

Today, if the Steelers and UPMC Sports Medicine were on the North Side, the areas around the stadium would have already been developed. The Steelers and Pirates are WAY, WAY, WAY benind of thier promises to develop the land around the stadiums.

Today, we face the possibility of a casino going onto the North Side -- to the displeasure of the Rooneys and others. They should have taken a bigger footprint, be it vertical, in the area around the stadium for their prime uses -- football.

One of the other suggestions I put forth at that time called for a development effort of Hazelwood by the University of Pittsburgh. The new Peterson Event Center should have been built on Pitt's side of the river, around graduate student housing, along the river, behind Pitt's main campus. We'd be able to have a "River Campus" with a new basketball facility joined, perhaps, with a new hockey facility for the Penguins.

Bob O'Connor's eyes opened wide as we talked about these suggestions. He loved the idea. He said, "To bad these ideas didn't come up a few months earlier." His objection was the timing.

My reply was that Pitt Stadium has survived for 75 years. It could still make it another year. Pitt was okay with its practice facility needs. The Steelers needed a field. But, the Steelers already had Duquesne University and that bubble too.

The objections didn't wash.

Now as we still look at Hazelwood -- we see a squandered opportunity.

Now, as we still moan about equal opportunities for females -- we still have Pitt with a guys only state-of-the-art (but still not regulation sized) facility!

The trend..... they thought small. I wanted them to do better. What they put on the table wasn't good enough.

I went to the first football practice at the new facility. The coaches had put orange cones on the 10-yard line (outdoor) and ran around shouting -- "Ten 's the goal!" They played with the goal at the 10-yard line so as to make for more of a buffer past the endline.

Red Zone Hypnotics has been used to various stages of success with teams since then.

Wednesday, April 07, 1999

Public Hearing, called by Mark Rauterkus, City Council Chambers

The public hearing was held on April 7, 1999, in city council chambers. This was the first public hearing I called. I presented council members with a 'position paper' and had it in a 3-ring binder. It was more than 60 pages.

Friday, April 02, 1999

Calling Citizens - Public Hearing - Come to City Council Chambers on Wed. April 7, 2 pm

The Citizens fo Pittsburgh have put forth a petition to City Council for a public hearing concerning the sale of land by the URA to UPMC for a football compound at the LTV site. Your input, ideas and appearance in City Council chambers are welcomed. Council members do understand these happenings, yet nudging is needed.

Fatal flaws loom large within this planned development.

1. These 'state-of-the-art" fields -- to be locked, fenced, lighted, and closed for all times to community use -- are in the flood plain and are only 80-yards in length.

2. The NCAA won't allow college athletes to share the same facilities at the same time with professionals. Both the Steelers and the Panthers (football) won't be able to move into this facility.

3. Prior planning efforts called for "flex-office space" and a "diversity of jobs" -- not secluded football fields and not high-grade medical offices.

4. The corporate welfare in the shadows of Plan B needs to end here and now.

UPMC's plans don't fit and are not fair. We can do better with this space, and we demand it. City Council can move to curb Pitt's disregard for balance in our communities. City Council can put the URA on notice that the needs of citizens outshine corporate greed. Please fight against the pervasive "done-deal mentality" and help with calls, buzz and political presence.

See a position paper: http://www.SportSurf.Net/backyard

Send email to backyard@sportsurf.net

Voice # 412-
Okay to copy to others.

This was the contents of a half-page handbill organized, published and delivered about by Mark Rauterkus.

Monday, February 22, 1999

SS Planning Forum

The LTV Steering Committee issued a report at a meeting I attended.

The LTV Steering Committee had met twice since the Feb 9 Planning Forum Meeting. On Feb 17 the committee met with Dr. Mulu Birru, Exec. Director of URA to review the planning process being used for the LTV site and discuss current projects and challenges. Dr. Birru reaffirmed the URA's commitment to working on the South Side Planning Forum and the LTV Steering Committee and expressed his confidence in the process.

The committee met again on Feb 22 with representatives from UPMC and IBEW to review the status of their proposals.

UPMC Sports Medicine Complex

It appears that the peices are in place to insure that UPMC will be making payments to the URA at the same rate as commcercial property taxes for as long as the property is owned by them. Further, the URA is committed to adding a covenant to the deed of the property to insure that the future non-profit owners would be under the same arrangement. A letter to this effect has been received and was distributed at the last Forum meeting. The Steering Committee has indicated to the URA and UPMC that it would like to insure tht the final PILOT (payment in leu of taxes) documents reflect these considerations.

UPMC has indicated that it would be open to considering community access for structured uses of the site. That is, the fields could be made available to specific community programs, though a lease or reservation system. The proposed 4 outdoor football fields will be limited to use by the University of Pittsburgh Panthers and Pittsburgh Steelers football teams, however, there are possibilities for uses of the indoor field -- which is full size. UPMC will consider a request from the Forum or another designated community group to run a specific number of programs each year. A group and individual point person would need to be identified to handle this planning. As evidence of the above commitment, UPMC will bring a list of current community programs that use UPMC facilities.

In addition to above, the Steering Committee discussed options for a proposed investment to South Side recreational facilities by UPMC. Ideas will be discussed at the Forum meeting on February 23. The Steering Committee agreed to have a formal response to the offer ready prior to the April 8th URA board meeting, when the project will be presented for final approval.

Also, the URA agreeded to provide an analysis of the job projections for the UPMC use of the portion of the site versus the flex office space use outlined in the master plan.

With regard to the approval process, after the presentation to the Forum on teh 23rd, the URA board would like to vote on accepting a proposal from UPMC at a special board meeting, to be held as early as February 26. The SSLDC's Design Committee will review the project at their March meeting. The project will go before Council for a motion to sell the property in March. On April 8 the URA board would like to vote on the final projet and the financing.

IBEW Complex

The committe also met with the IBEW and their architects to review changes to the design as suggested by the LTV Steering Committee and SSLDC Design Committee. Although the group has elected not to move the parking from the frst level of the building, they have implemented several design enhancements to improve the appearance of the first floor of the building. These include changes to reduce the scale of the front elevation cornice and consideration fo the use of offset brick to break up the surface at street level. IBEW has also agreed to investigate using non-reflective glass on the building and would like to avoid using reflective glass. An East Carson Street entrance to the building has been added, with more development being don t the landscaping of this entrance. The curb cut into the site has been moved to be consistent with the contunuation of Sidney Street.

Other

The Life Sciences building plans and the Final Land Development Plan for sub-district B will be presented to the Forum on March 9.