The news story “Redevelopment grant would speed work at site where Civic Arena stood” (Aug. 9 and TribLIVE.com) reported the Sports & Exhibition Authority (SEA) plan to redevelop the 28-acre former Civic Arena site with an $18 million TIGER (Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery) grant from the U.S. Department of Transportation. The “A better idea?” item in “Pittsburgh Tuesday takes” (Aug. 13 and TribLIVE.com) questioned the prudence of developing the site “in one shebang” with this grant, rather than in phases. The real issue is not how the former arena site should be developed, but rather who should pay for the redevelopment.
In 2007, Gov. Ed Rendell penned an agreement signed by the SEA that included demolition of the arena three years before the SEA conducted a bogus historic review, making the process a farce. During the process, the SEA willfully omitted, in violation of the National Historic Preservation Act, any federal funding that might be used for redevelopment that could affect historic properties.
Last year, the SEA applied for a $15 million state Regional Capital Assistance Program grant for redevelopment. I submitted my written objections to a pass-through grant from the SEA to benefit the Pittsburgh Penguins; Charles Zogby, Gov. Corbett's Budget secretary, did not respond, subsequent phone calls were ignored and the grant application was approved.
My letter “Undeserved praise” (Aug. 19, 2011, and TribLIVE.com) cited 10 areas of SEA fiscal malfeasance that also required a $1.5 million state Department of Community & Economic Development grant to pay for SEA salaries. Government abuse by this unaccountable authority continues.
Gary J. English
The writer submitted the historic-preservation nomination of the Civic Arena that the Pennsylvania Historical & Museum Commission approved.