Monday, September 26, 2016

City Council Approves Legal Transfer of Historic Hazelwood Library to URA

By Glenn A. Walsh
Reporting for LibraryWatchtower

On September 20, Pittsburgh City Council approved Bill 2016-0614 that allows the sale, by the City of Pittsburgh to the Urban Redevelopment Authority of Pittsburgh (URA) for $1 each, several city properties including the historic Hazelwood Library building. The URA would then prepare the Library building, along with other properties included in the bill, for redevelopment and resale.

Bill 2016-0614 was approved by a vote, of the 9-member City Council, of 7 Aye, 2 No, with no abstentions ---

A motion was made that this matter be Passed Finally. The motion carried. by
the following vote:

Aye: 7 - Rev. Burgess, Mr. Gilman, Mr. Kraus, Mr. Lavelle, Mr. O'Connor, Ms.
Rudiak, and Mrs. Kail-Smith
No: 2 - Ms. Gross, and Mrs. Harris
Abstain: 0

Prior to the official vote during the meeting's Public Comments segment, David Tessitor, long-time city activist and Founder of the Pittsburgh Free-Net, and Glenn A. Walsh, former Life Trustee on the Board of Trustees of the Andrew Carnegie Free Library and Music Hall in the Pittsburgh suburb of Carnegie, Pennsylvania, spoke against the proposed sale of the historic Hazelwood Library.

Mr. Tessitor reminded City Council members that in December they approved a now-ongoing study of the conditions and values of 150 city-owned properties and recommend a 40-year repair and maintenance plan. Since several of the city-owned properties that would be sold by Bill 2016-0614 are part of this year-long study, Mr. Tessitor suggested that it would make more sense to delay the proposed sale until the completion of, what is known as, the Massaro Study (the Massaro Corporation is conducting the study for the City).

City Councilwoman Deborah Gross (representing Council District 7) agreed that it made no sense to approve the sale of these properties, until the completion of the Massaro Study can tell City Council the best places to relocate city services and facilities necessary if these properties are to be sold. Consequently, Ms. Gross voted against Bill 2016-0614.

City Councilwoman Darlene M. Harris (representing Council District 1) also voted no on Bill 2016-0614. She mentioned that, just before the beginning of the Tuesday morning Council meeting, the City Law Department had notified her that the historic Hazelwood Library, which was donated in-trust to the City by Andrew Carnegie, could not be sold without the approval of the Pennsylvania Orphans' Court. Hence, she could not approve the sale of the historic Hazelwood Library by Pittsburgh City Council.

The following are the prepared comments of Glenn A. Walsh, delivered before City Council just prior to the final vote on Bill 2016-0614:

Statement before the        Glenn A. Walsh
    Council of                      P.O. Box 1041
    The City of                    Pittsburgh PA 15230-1041 U.S.A.
    Pittsburgh:                    Telephone: 412-561-7876
Proposed Sale of                E-Mail: < >
Historic                               Web Site: <  >
Hazelwood Branch Bldg., 
                   Blog: < >
Carnegie Library               2016 September 20

Good morning, I am Glenn A. Walsh, 633 Royce Avenue, Mt. Lebanon. Today I am speaking as a private citizen representing no organization.

I support reuse of the historic Hazelwood Library building, including the large auditorium. However, I oppose Bill 614 which would allow the City of Pittsburgh to sell-off the historic structure.

Last week, City Finance Director Paul Leger said ---
1)     That Bill 614 does not actually sell the properties.
YES IT DOES !!! The bill says, “…conveying AS IS all of the City's right, title and interest, if any, in designated City-owned properties.” If you pass Bill 614, you will convey, and lose control over, the historic Hazelwood Library.

2)     That unless conveyed to the URA, the properties can only be sold at auction.
He did not mention the third option, a long-term lease with a non-profit organization such as the URA or the Hazelwood Initiative, which was done with the historic Buhl Planetarium building in 2002.

The point is that the historic Hazelwood Library should not be sold in the first place. Andrew Carnegie gave this building, including the large auditorium, to the City for a public purpose, and the building should always be owned by the City, so the people of Pittsburgh, through their representatives in Council, will always have a say in what happens to the building.

Redevelopment of the historic Hazelwood Library can occur, as Councilman O’Connor wishes, by a long-term lease under City ownership. However, once this building is conveyed to the URA, neither Councilman O’Connor nor any other member of this Council will have any control over the final disposition of this building. Then the URA Board will make the final decision, not this Council.

I, respectfully, ask that the historic Hazelwood Library be removed from Bill 614, if you feel Bill 614 must be passed.

Thank you.


Internet Links to Additional Information ---

Bill Number 2016-0614, which proposes to sell historic Hazelwood Library building to URA for $1:
Link >>>

Hazelwood Library Photo Album:
Link >>>

Save Hazewood Library: Link >>>

Related Blog Posts ---

"City Council Preliminarily Approves Sale of Historic Hazelwood Library." 2016 Sept. 15.

Link >>>


"Historic Hazelwood Library Public Hearing." 2016 Sept. 13.

Link >>>

"Proposed Sale of Historic Hazelwood Library: Public Hearing Thursday."

2016 Sept. 5.

Link >>>


"Keep Historic Hazelwood Library as City Property." 2016 Aug. 18.

Link >>>


Source: Glenn A. Walsh Reporting for LibraryWatchtower.
             2016 Sept. 26.

                                                               Historic 10-inch Siderostat-type Refractor Telescope at Pittsburgh's original Buhl Planetarium and Institute of Popular Science.
        2016: 75th Year of Pittsburgh's Buhl Planetarium Observatory
     Link >>>

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Glenn A. Walsh, LibraryWatchtower Editor / Author: >
Electronic Mail - < >
Twitter Feed: < >
LibraryWatchtower Blog: < >
TransportWatchtower Blog: <  >
SpaceWatchtower Blog: < >
South Hills Backyard Astronomers Blog: < >
Barnestormin Blog: Writing, Essays, Pgh. News, etc.: < >
Author of History Web Sites on the Internet --
* Andrew Carnegie & Carnegie Libraries:
  < >
* West End Branch, The Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh: >
* Andrew Carnegie Free Library & Music Hall, Carnegie PA: >
* Civil War Museum of Andrew Carnegie Free Library:
  < >
* Astronomer, Educator, Optician John A. Brashear:
  < >
* Buhl Planetarium, Pittsburgh:
  < >
* Adler Planetarium, Chicago:
  < >
Duquesne Incline cable-car railway, Pittsburgh:
  < >
* Public Transit:
  < >

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