Peduto, Harris compromise on $1.6M for North Side community center
Pittsburgh City Councilwoman Darlene Harris and Mayor Bill Peduto's office reached a compromise on $1.6 million allocated for a future North Side community center that the mayor wants to spend on a study of development in the city's Uptown neighborhood.
City Council advanced legislation Tuesday that would redirect the money to a Transit Revitalization Investment District study in Uptown. The study is part of an effort to develop a rapid transit bus corridor linking Oakland and Downtown.
Peduto's Chief of Staff Kevin Acklin agreed to commit $1.6 million in the 2015 capital budget for construction of the Riverview Park Community Center, Peduto spokesman Tim McNulty said.
Harris of Spring Hill said she agreed to the compromise with a stipulation that she receive a written guarantee from Peduto.
“I'm fine with it as long as I know, and I have it in writing from the mayor, that they are going to put that money back into (the capital budget),” she said.
But that doesn't mean the center, which hasn't advanced past planning stages, will be built. McNulty estimated the total cost at $10 million, which would represent nearly 20 percent of this year's $52.6 million capital budget.
Harris said she would work with the mayor's office to find funding.
On Tuesday, she accused the mayor of taking political retribution by siphoning the cash from her North Side council district, a claim that McNulty denied. Mark Fatla, director of the North Side Leadership Conference, which represents 15 North Side community groups, said residents were upset that Peduto stripped money from the North Side project.
“This happens routinely,” Fatla said. “You have funds allocated, but the project isn't ready to go, so you reallocate the money to a project that is. This to us seems like a reasonable solution.”
Former Mayor Luke Ravenstahl's administration allocated the money for the center near a new soccer field in Riverview Park.
The $3.3 million soccer field was expected to open this year, but that's been pushed back to next spring, according to city Operations Chief Guy Costa. He said R&B Contracting and Excavation of New Homestead, which built the field, recently finished final work required by the city, and city workers must install a fence and guard rails and paint lines on the parking lot.
Bob Bauder is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. Reach him at 412-765-2312 or firstname.lastname@example.org.