Monday, May 29, 2006

Old notes. New twists: "Mark, You're being too global."

One of the first political efforts in my personal history in Pittsburgh had to do with the plans for UPMC Sports Center moving into the South Side Works. I didn't like many of those plans and how it all unfolded.

I raised my voice and called a public hearing in city council chambers.

Carrie Harris, SSLDC, Forum Member, Steering Committee for the site, said about the NCAA rule restrictions for member insitutions (Pitt) that prohibits professional and college athletes from sharing the same facility at the same time, "That is their problem."

Hugh Brannon said at the LTV Site Steering Committee meeting, "Mark, you're being too global."

A sugar daddy grant came from UPMC to locals to get them to buy-into the their plans. At the first go-around, UPMC promised to build a new ballfield for the community on space that didn't exist. I asked, how could UPMC build a the community a new ballfield when their playing fields were but dwarf fields.

Then the UPMC exec raised the offer to $30,000 for any fitness and sports location. Then on Feb 23 of that year, the amount jumped to $75,000. That money, it seems to me, was to sway the opinions of the concerned citizens.

The offers of "community access opportunities" at the planned UPMC compound are slim and tiny -- so I said then and still stand by today.

I listened, laughed, and can say I told you so. The SS Planning Forum took the notion and wrapped it in red tape to become a funding agent. The group didn't even have a bank account until then.

That's water over the dam -- until last week when the Pgh Public Schools hosted its second, rained out, elementary grade track meet at South Side's Stadium. The first event came to a close with a driving rain storm and hundreds of kids and teachers wet to the bone. The next event, a week later, got waved off after the kids went to school and the clouds were spitting. The kids didn't spit -- but some tears flowed from the disapointed girls.

On Friday, June 2 (before the house concert that night), we've got another date with the S.S. Stadium for the first ever "Phillips Field Day." All the kids in all the grades are going to play, compete and be outdoors.

At this point, we could start watching the weather channel -- or -- put in a call to the facility managers at the UPMC Sports Medicine Center so we'd be able to direct our efforts there, indoors, to a turf field, should the rain fall as it did those past two Thursdays -- washing out the PPS girls track meet.

Community access was promised -- and hardly delivered.

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