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Council, committee tangle in street fight

| Thursday, April 28, 2011, 12:00 p.m.

A new street near Heinz Field honoring a former Steelers coach has caused another dustup between Pittsburgh Councilman Bill Peduto and a city committee that reviews street names and addresses.

In a sometimes terse e-mail exchange last week, Peduto told Ray DeMichiei, head of the Address Review committee, that council should have signed off on the naming of Chuck Noll Way after receiving a recommendation from the committee.

The committee approved the name last year, but Allegheny County has not yet entered the street into the 911 system because it is not yet built.

"This is a new street and must be sent to council for action," Peduto wrote on April 20. "The committee rules cannot override the city code. Please send all street changes to council."

Peduto complained about the same issue to DeMichiei last year.

DeMichiei, the city's emergency management deputy director, said the committee is best-equipped to make such decisions.

"I have and continue to maintain that addressing should be left to the technical experts," DeMichiei wrote.

The e-mail exchange was contained in a letter that Peduto sent to city Solicitor Daniel Regan, questioning whether the committee was following city code, and if not, whether that meant its decisions could be legally challenged or voided.

The city hadn't responded to Peduto's letter as of Wednesday afternoon.

"You may not agree with it and you may even have very good public safety reasons to do so, but you cannot decide not to follow the law," Peduto wrote in one e-mail. "I will certainly consider working with you on changes."

In 2008, under legislation crafted by City Councilman Patrick Dowd, the city created the address committee, which DeMichiei said standardized what had been a political process or an afterthought.

The committee, which is comprised of officials from five city departments and Allegheny County Emergency Services, receives 10 to 15 requests a month to rename existing streets, name new ones or renumber addresses.

Its work came to the public's attention last year, when it changed several similarly named streets because Allegheny County 911 sent dispatchers to the wrong address. Public Safety Director Michael Huss then ordered the address committee to review nearly 1,200 streets and make changes where necessary.

The committee's meetings were closed to the public until September when the Trib gained access after discussions with city attorneys.

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