In Highland Park, the past is present -- and I don't want to go there. The major projects at the RAD parks are jokes.
In the early 1900s, a grand Victorian entryway greeted visitors with imposing bronze sculptures, clustered Ionic columns, a fountain, reflecting pool and lush formal gardens. At that time, and for decades after, Highland Park also had segregated swimming pools. One pool for whites. One pool for colored. Fact. History.
Do these bone-headed leaders want to turn back the clock to that time as well?
Pittsburgh used to be the 4th largest city in the US. Did the garden party attitude make us flourish or is it what has pushed us to our decline?
The best we can do in our parks these days is to crave the 1930s with bricks and stone. On the North Side, the Riverview Park was slated to get and upgrade -- running water. That is right. A sink with a pipe to flow water and a real toilet that flushes. Such advancements in 2004.
If this is the most refreshing sign is a gush of sparkling water 15 feet in the air, then shame on us.
The water seen spouting comes from crews testing new pipes that have been laid. Union crews? Over the next few weeks, the fountain may be on or off, depending on the testing schedule.
Meanwhile, over the next few weeks, kids will be growing, all the time, never switching to off. We can freeze our city budgets, but we can't freeze our kids and tell them to wait.
According to city workers, no official opening has been scheduled yet. Furthermore, this is a project that has taken more than six years to come to testing stages. it has taken forever in terms of the live of a six-year old. Wait some more.
Can walkers, residents and passers-by in 2004 catch an early peek at a fountain that went to hell in 1930s?
So, we've driven our parks into the ground for say about 70 years. Hold the phone. We have had one-party rule in Pittsburgh for 70 years. So, the Dems have been in charge of the city for all this time and yet we LONG for a return to that era.
"It's beautiful," beamed Annette Marks, 67, a lifelong resident of the East End neighborhood that was laid out over 300 acres in 1778. "It's going to be just like it was."
The parks will be beautiful as soon as we break the rule of one party politics. And, as soon as we set new priorities that go beyond the brick top layer. As soon as we figure out that our kids can't be raised and made whole by only UNION workers -- and we engage all of the community -- then we've got hope for the future.
Some remember, goldfish in the pond. Now, one only needs to walk a quarter mile to the Highland Park Zoo and Aquarium and find sharks. We spent millions on places for our fish to swim, yet put $0 in the city budget for places for our kids to swim.
Anyone who wants to see goldfish -- go to the pet store and get some yourself. If you want more a more exotic fish experience, go to the zoo.
What gurgles again might speak with forked tounge.
"They're bringing it all back, reverting to what we had originally. It's going to do a lot for this neighborhood." --- what about the segregated swim pools? is that next on the to-do list?
Or, really, what could happen -- Oxford Development can build a sports complex in the burbs -- such as in Monroeville and Cranberry. Coaching shouldn't happen in Highland Park -- as the local swim team needs to have its rates doubled, (really).
The reflecting pool did get mentioned in the Park's Master Plans -- and the swim pool got ignored, other than as a place for selling refreshments.
Financial assistance also came from Allegheny Regional Asset District funding earmarked to aid the city's parks. We need to "think again" about the RAD funds for the city parks. Those funds have been a major waste. The RAD tax should be eliminated.
The project will cost about $700,000 -- and it cost about that much to run the swim pools in 2004.
"...It seems a little impractical to use funds when the city could be doing other things."
Phase two of the project, more horticultural work, won't happen if I'm elected. The rainbow of seasonal color, will be seen in our kids and the opportunities presented to them to work upon -- not in the dirt. The Pittsburgh Parks Conservancy, a group working with the city and Highland Park community groups to rebuild the park, should be NUKED and folded into the new Pittsburgh Park District.
As the temperature steamed toward 86 degrees, the fountain was one of the coolest spots at the park yesterday -- if you don't count the swim pool.
"It is certainly tranquil," said Marette Simpson, a minister from Monroeville, jogging past the babbling fountain on her 3-mile run. "I'm ready to take a dip in it." My point exactly.
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