Guy Costa to retire from public service for 2nd time, this time for good
Guy Costa parlayed a part-time job during college in the 1970s sweeping out the old Civic Arena into a public service career that spanned 40 years.
Costa, 63, of Squirrel Hill announced Wednesday that he will retire at the end of March.
It is the second time Costa has retired from government work, but this time he says it’s for good.
“It gets to a point in your life where you get the opportunity to enjoy life more, and I’m at that point,” he said.
Costa said he plans to stay active in community, civic and political issues. He’s thinking about resurrecting the city’s annual Columbus Day parade, which he organized in the past.
But don’t expect him to join the long line of Costa politicians. Brother Paul and cousin Dom were longtime state representatives, and brother Jay is the state Senate minority leader.
“No, no, no, no, no, no,” he said. “I have no political ambitions. You’ll probably see me helping out for a campaign and getting involved in civic issues.”
Costa, who serves as Mayor Bill Peduto’s chief operating officer at a salary of $108,819, is the last remaining original member of Peduto’s executive team. The others in recent years have departed the administration for new jobs.
Peduto said Costa, who served as his campaign manager in 2013, will be missed.
“No one has worked harder for the people of Pittsburgh than Guy Costa,” Peduto said in a statement. “He is constantly out on city streets, often early in the morning or late at night, fixing problems, responding to complaints and overall just making the city he loves a better place to live. He is irreplaceable.”
Costa became the face of Pittsburgh’s weather response after Mayor Tom Murphy in 1999 appointed him public works director. He was well known for appearing on TV news to give updates on the state of city streets during snow storms.
He said the Pittsburgh Public School District often consulted him to determine whether a delay or school closing was warranted.
“I became very recognizable by that,” he said. “There were people who told me they would plan their day on what I would say. My son and his friends found out I had some input on this issue, so they said ‘Dad, do you think tomorrow we could have school closed?’”
Costa said he never obliged but advised them that they would be better served with a delay because school closings meant extending the school year.
He started his public service career as a substitute school teacher after graduating from Duquesne University in 1978. One of his students — Wendell Hissrich — is now his colleague as the city’s public safety director.
“I take credit for that,” Costa said.
After two years of teaching, he accepted a job with Allegheny County as a manager in the maintenance department and later with the county public works department. He served 14 years with the county before Murphy hired him in 1994 as the city’s parking authority director.
His city career spanned four mayors: Murphy, the late Bob O’Connor, Luke Ravenstahl and now Peduto.
O’Connor died from a brain tumor in 2006, a year after Costa was diagnosed with an inoperable tumor on the left side of his brain. Costa said the tumor is under control and his health is good otherwise.
“I still have that, several locations,” he said. “I continue to see a doctor for this, and I continue to get MRIs four times a year and so far, knock on wood, everything’s been fine with the brain tumor.”
He said his proudest public works accomplishment was the 2017 completion of a new Greenfield Bridge spanning the Parkway East.
His worst day was a mass shooting at the Tree of Life synagogue in Squirrel Hill in which 11 people were murdered.
“I had friends who were in there,” he said. “I knew four of the victims that passed away, and two of them who were injured, and some of the police officers. It just hit home.”
Bob Bauder is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Bob at 412-765-2312, firstname.lastname@example.org or via Twitter @bobbauder.
Bob Bauder is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Bob at 412-765-2312, email@example.com or via Twitter .