Statement before                    Glenn A. Walsh

Pittsburgh City Council --          P.O. Box 1041

   Historic Hazelwood                      Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania 15230-1041 U.S.A.

     Library Building:                         Telephone: 412-561-7876

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                                                                                2003 November 24


Good morning. I am Glenn A. Walsh of 633 Royce Avenue, Mount Lebanon. Today, I am representing no formal organization.


Well, this weekend there was good news from Carnegie Library! On Saturday, Carnegie Library had a grand reopening celebration for their historic Homewood Branch Library, which has just undergone a $3.5 million rehabilitation. This renovation not only included the library-proper, but also the 300-seat auditorium on the lower level and the ballroom and other meeting rooms on the second floor. Carnegie Library chose to renovate the entire building, which is really a cultural center for the Homewood neighborhood. I do salute Carnegie Library for spending the time and money to preserve a wonderful historic building in Homewood.
So, why are they not willing to do something similar for the Hazelwood neighborhood? Although a smaller building, and hence, less expensive to renovate, it does have a 250-seat auditorium which is just as valuable to the residents of Hazelwood as is the 300-seat auditorium to the residents of Homewood.
I fear that the Homewood Library renovation may be the one token library renovation by Carnegie Library. Not only does Carnegie Library want to abandon the Hazelwood Library building, Carnegie Library officials have publicly stated that they also want to abandon original Andrew Carnegie-built buildings in Lawrenceville, Mount Washington, West End, and even the Allegheny Regional Branch building on the North Side next to Buhl Planetarium!
Like the buildings in Homewood and Hazelwood, these other original library buildings are really cultural centers for those neighborhoods. The Carnegie Free Library of Allegheny building, which houses the Allegheny Regional Branch, is the city’s oldest library building which was very special to Andrew Carnegie, as this is the neighborhood where he grew-up.
With the reopening of the Homewood Library, Carnegie Library has now shown that historic preservation of library buildings can be done well. Why not do the same thing in Hazelwood, Lawrenceville, Mount Washington, West End, and on the North Side?
In the case of the Hazelwood Branch Library, Hazelwood residents are not asking for a $3 million renovation. They seek only to have the roof fixed, a ramp for the disabled constructed into the main library floor, handicapped restrooms built, and eventually air-condition the building. And, there is plenty of land to build additional parking spaces in the lawn outside the auditorium entrance.
Please note that the auditorium is already accessible to wheelchairs. All is needed for the auditorium is one handicapped restroom. There is no need for an expensive elevator.
If it is perceived that people do not know where the library is located, Carnegie Library can work with the City to place larger directional signs on Second Avenue, as well as increase Hazelwood Library publicity.
These items will not cost $3 million, but would keep a historic library and an auditorium in use in the Hazelwood neighborhood. This afternoon, at Carnegie Library’s budget hearing, I ask this Council to instruct Carnegie Library officials not to move out of the historic Hazelwood Library building, leaving another abandoned eyesore in the neighborhood.
Thank you.