Sunday, February 19, 2006

More ideas for a better Pittsburgh -- with olympic aspirations

I've been sketching a book or two in the past years. One is called, Compelling Sense. The other is more about Pittsburgh's ideas, such as the one's talked about in the P-G article. A dozen ideas for a better Pittsburgh DOWNTOWN FUN

We should NOT turn lower Forbes Ave into a halfpipe. However there are a lot of better things that can be done. Here are just a few.

We were in the Europe and a river there is set up to have wave board riders towed around via an overhead cable in a course that makes a large square. If the Mon is 200 yards wide, it could also stretch 200 or 300 yards in length too. One could set up a course to go from the the fountain at Point State Park, up the edge to the Ft. Pitt Bridge, (300 yards) along the edge of the underside of the bridge to the South Shore, back along the edge of that river, and back to make a square / rectangle ride. Total distance about 1K.

The water in "the pool" near The Point is a no wake zone. So, you can't really water ski there, unless you don't have a boat. River cafes should be built on both sides to get people there to watch the excitement.

Highland Park, near the dam, but along the north shore of the river, could be home to a few white water standing waves. In Syndey for the 2000 Olympics, they built a water park that is all man made. They store the water -- and then let if flow. Another such venue is in MD near the DC area. This would be easy to construct.

We could do the soap box derby along the ramp that leads from the Wabash Tunnel to Station Square.

We could build a ski jump off of the roof of the convention center. But, the slope isn't really good enough, until you put your feet on a long-skate-board and hold upon a ski kite. Then you've got a good roll and lift that would elevate you into the river. It is sorta like a para sail -- but with a wing-shaped kite. Lift, soar, splash among the sister bridges.

We should be doing rock climbing along the face of Mt. Washington.

The single Iron Man idea, not so good. Rather, I'd like to make it a three day Iron Man done in stages. So, the third day is the Marathon, but on day one we'd swim, either in Highland Park Pool -- or -- in the rivers. On day two there is a bike race. Then the third stage, the marathon, is day three. Give us a three day race, one stage each day.

Of course we should do a fin swim from Sandcastle to Station Square. The pros would go down and back. Or, we could do a real three rivers swim in a marathon. Go from Sandcastle to the first island on the Ohio, past the point, then up to Highland Park's dam (or Washington's Landing) then back to the point and home again up to Sandcastle. In that race, the pros could swim straight up. The amateur racers could opt for paddles, fins, snorkels and wet suits.

I'd also like to see seasonal swim pools that are put outside of PNC Park and Point State Park -- that are floated within the river for lap swimming and swim lessons.

Give me kayak water polo too. Beginner neighborhood teams could form for the tykes on the North Side (avaiary) and Panther Hollow as well as at each wave pool and Highland Park Pool. Highland Park Pool should be used 10 months a year for kayaks, by the way. The adult squads would play kayak polo under various bridges, complete with lights and night games.

We need real bike lanes all throughout the city. Not just along the rivers for tourists, but for residents and workers. I also want to bike in the PAT tunnels and on the busways to the east and west. I biked in China -- and it is a great way to stay fit and save on money without a car.

We need bridge jumping / diving too. Some days and some bridges with bunjie cords -- others just for the free fall into the water of the rivers.

I like trampolines to be put on barges and parked on the side of the rivers at parks. They do this too in Vienna.

Perry High School should play the last half of its football season as home games at PNC Park, in the WPIAL. All of its away games should be in the first half of the season, then all of the home games come after the Pirate season concludes, (not counting August when they are eliminated by mathamatics).

Wouldn't it be great to skeet shoot off of the Mt. Washington overlooks? That's a joke, but the others so far are serious.

If we ever have a Regatta in Pittsburgh again, and we don't have any boat races -- we can't call it a Regatta. Call it a drunk fest instead, I guess.

I want to play HUMAN CHESS in PPG PLAZA each evening in the summers, starting at 3 pm. We could set up a couple of boards there around the tomb of the unknown bowler. On slow nights we'd just play HUMAN CHECKERS instead.

The ski lift idea is way cool. We've talked about this before. The lift shouldn't go from Mt. Washington to the North Side however. That's too drab. I'd want to see the lift go from Station Square's west end (near where the casino might go, or at least the IC Light Stage, to the foot of the Incline / T-stop, to the roof of the Oliver Bath House at 10th Street, or else at South Vo Tech. Then one spur goes to the new 12 story parking lot and horse / buggy station over the river on the other side of the 10th Street bridge. A footbridge should take folks to the DU campus, of course. Then the next stop is at 18th Street, then to the park in the hollow behind UPMC South Side. Then to South Side Works, then to Hazelwood and finally up to Pitt's main campus via Panther Hollow.

On the town side, we'd be able to do another lift from DU's campus to the civic arena and then to the Hill House, and then back to the Strip District. Did you know that there used to be an incline that went from The Strip District to the Hill District.

Really, we don't need to build a grocery store in The Hill District -- if we only had a ski lift down to The Strip District.

The way to get from Station Square to the North Shore isn't with a ski lift -- but rather with outrigger boats and electric Duffy Boats. I want Duffy Boats and boat launches all around the city. Then the chair lifts can be back, away from the edge of the water and just join to the water at a few places.

Of course we need to re-open the lone indoor ice rink on the South Side -- but turn it into a year-round curling facility. In curling, the winners buy the first round of beers. So, it would be like a beer garden and curling site. Bingo halls are going to be outlawed once gambling comes anyway.

The halfpipes that were talked about are too dangerous -- but -- if they must occur, put them within a few of the now closed outdoor swim pools. We have had 32 of them in Pittsburgh. We still own the property. I'm against the building of skateboard parks. That fad has pasted anyway.

I want 20 or more JOHN LENNON WALLS around Pittsburgh. We'll turn grafitti art into a real contact sport. Now we've got none. Give the people places to post and decorate. Every day, a crew would go around to one of the sites and yank down the art and make a blank canvas.

Painting and decorations would go in within the tunnels too. Once a week each tunnel shuts one lane of traffic. Say on Mondays from 11 pm to 4 am we'd close the inbound lane on the Liberty Tubes. On Tuesday, outbound. On Wed, SQ.Hill inbound, Thur is SQ.Hill outbound. Then Fri and Sat is Ft. Pitt in and out. Sundays is a rotation between Wabash and Armstrong.

All the paint and puddy might keep the tunnels in functional condition for another couple decades.

Then comes the annual road races, within the Liberty tunnel. I'd love to see a race start in the park on the South Side of the Liberty Tubes -- near the Red, White and Blue and Tambolini's. It would go into the Liberty Tubes and over the Liberty Bridge, then back and forth using different lanes of the road and bridge. I think we could do it six times.

Sure, the Thrift Drug Classic should return. But, we've got a better race that is now being conducted. I'm not in favor of closures of all those roads however, like the race and the marathon used to be.

The Pgh Marathon should use the bus ways and the bike ways. Each year it should be an out and back course, in one direction, off of the roads, almost all the way. I'd like to see the course change every year in substantional ways for the first 10 years. And, the course would change based upon the votes from the participants.

I want a robot battle bar too.

Once a year the CMU kids should take their buggy races to the rails. We'd be able to race from McKeesport to Sewickley with auto powered rail cars. It would be a staged time trial. Teams that catch the crew ahead of them get to overtake -- so those getting past have to pull their ride off of the tracks.

High school teams should have an all-star show down with the CMU buggy victors. If any high school teams beats a CMU team (s)-- then they do a college scholarship swap once the high schoolers are acadmic eligible for CMU.

I'd love to see a real velodrom built, say in Hazelwood.
I'd love to see a real Olympic speed skating rink built too. But, it would be best if that speed skating rink was put underground, into a mountain or in a mine so as to stay out of the sun and stay cool all year. One oval at 40-feet underground could be built with cement or wooden floor. Another oval could be with ice. It would be with cameras and a motion or sound detection lighting so it could be open all times of the day and night.

A good mountain exists behind the now closed indoor ice rink on the South Side. You'd have the one edge of the rink under a tent -- and the rest would just drive back underground.

To encourage college graduates to stay, form a Pittsburgh Service Corps -- sure. But I'd give kids in their junior year with good grades and good service to the community a free option at a lottery for a free plot of land or a crumbled house / homestead. As a graduation gift, you get a home. If you have better grades and better services to the community you get a better draft choice as to where you'd like to build. And, you'd be able to trade these, tax free, for five years. And, if you can't capitalize upon the property after a deadline (say five years) -- it goes back into the mix for the next class to pick.

The URA owns so many bits of property that we have to give them away. And, we can't just sell them to absentee landlords. And, we can't just put them all on the market at one time as they will drive down the home values of everyone else.

The suggestion of making foreign language mandatory isn't a bad one. But, the kids should also learn a programming language too -- Java, C++, PERL, or even MSQL would be fine.

Rather than closing schools, insist that all the families in that school go abroad for a year. Scatter them to all the corners of the world. Send mom, dad, brothers and sisters. Give them two-round-trip tickets. Then when they come back to Pittsburgh, if they do, they'll understand that their home school has closed and won't feel too, too bad. So, if your school closes -- you get to study abroad. Finland, Iceland, Japan, Brazil, wherever. We have Sister Cities -- we'll just make the best of it.

And, those that don't have a closed school to deal with -- you might need to be hosting another international family or student into your home to trade off for the hundreds or thousands of families we are pushing to the rest of the Planet Earth.

Semester at Sea should return too. If your school closed a second time -- you get to take a cruise.

The Steelers should buy Heinz Field and also buy and build two big parking garages on the land around the stadium. The roofs of each parking structure should be for the practice fields. One should be grass the other turf and able to be covered with a bubble. The locker facilities and team's rooms should be the top floors of the garages.

In D.C.'s Georgetown, the college football team has a practice field on the top of a parking garage.

Scouts and spies could watch the team practice from the lookouts on Mt. Washington.

Finally, I do love the gambling at the airport. Plus, we should put Mario's new ice rink there too.

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