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 September 30


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


In a news article, published in the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review on September 22, Carnegie Library Director Herb Elish is reported to have said that the consensus from Hazelwood community meetings is that moving the Hazelwood Library out of the historical Hazelwood Branch Library building is the right thing to do. This is just plain wrong.


Carnegie Library scheduled only one general meeting for the entire community, regarding this issue, on September 9. A large majority of the 75 people in attendance, at this meeting, were unalterably opposed to moving the library out of the historical building, creating yet another abandoned building in the neighborhood. Any other meetings, Mr. Elish may be referring to, were with special interest groups that do not represent the interests of the entire community.


In the news article, Mr. Elish is also quoted as saying that it could cost $2-$2.5 million to rehabilitate the original building. This is the same amount now being expended on the rehabilitation of a much larger branch library in Homewood. It does not make sense that a Hazelwood Library renovation would cost the same as a Homewood Library renovation.


It seems that, to rehabilitate a historic library building, Carnegie Library insists on a “Taj Mahal” type renovation. The residents of Hazelwood are not asking for a “Taj Mahal” renovation. They would like to see the original building made handicapped-accessible, which can be done with a ramp into the Library; a ramp already exists for the auditorium. A very expensive elevator is not needed.


The residents would also like to see the building, eventually, air-conditioned.  However, there has been years of deferred maintenance, disinvestment, and neglect of the Hazelwood Branch, by Carnegie Library. Hence, it is no surprise that Mr. Elish says that the building now “doesn't serve the people well.


Mr. Elish also said, “We believe that for libraries to truly serve the people, they need to be at the center of things, which in Hazelwood means Second Avenue." The historic library building is only two short blocks from Second Avenue; in fact, the auditorium entrance is only one block from Second Avenue!


And, the site preferred by Carnegie Library is only three blocks from the original building! The original building IS in the center of Hazelwood, not far from the J&L development site. Improved street signage and publicity, regarding library services and programs, are all that is needed to increase usage of the original Library building.


The comment was also made, in the news article, that the historic building is expensive to heat. At the September 9 neighborhood meeting, residents were told that the costs of operating the Second Avenue library were basically the same as the cost of operating the library in the historic building!


The historic Hazelwood Branch Library building is owned by the City of Pittsburgh and several of you sit on the Carnegie Library Board of Trustees. I ask that you insist that Carnegie Library abide by the wishes of the majority of Hazelwood residents and stop the proposed move of the Hazelwood Library, out of the historic building that has successfully hosted the library for more than 103 years.


Thank you.