Buhl Planetarium and Carnegie Library – 2003 December
Planetarium: Shortly after Christmas of 2002, it was learned that the
2002 April “Request for Proposals” (RFP)
document [See also
Friends of the Zeiss reply to RFP and preservation proposal]
, issued by the City, stated that the winning applicant would receive lease
agreements for the four historic artifacts, the City negotiated three
“Memoranda of Understanding” with the
So, the three artifacts now remain, dismantled, in the
In 2003 May, three months before the official groundbreaking
for the Children’s Museum expansion project, Buhl Planetarium’s
Theater of the
Astronomical Observatory, and
Little Science Theater had been GUTTED! All
that is left in the Planetarium Theater is the inner dome and the
Westinghouse “Worm-Gear” Elevator, which held the Zeiss Projector (located
below the Theater). The world’s first permanent theatrical stage in a
planetarium is gone!
Although the Children’s Museum has raised the vast majority
of the money needed to complete their expansion project, there is a definite
question as to whether they will be able to remain financially solvent once the
expanded building opens. According to the Children’s Museum’s Fiscal Year 2004
grant application to RAD, the Children’s Museum has had
deficits for the last four years—half-million dollar deficits for the last two
years! Currently, they have permission from the expansion project funders to
use expansion project money to subsidize their operating deficit. However, once
the expansion project is completed this pot of money will be depleted; how will
they, then, be able to fund the operation of a building four times the size of
the current museum operation?
of the Zeiss strongly believes that if the Children’s Museum expansion
project must go forward, then additional revenue sources must be found for
operating the expanded building. To maximize the revenue potential of the Buhl
Planetarium building, and attendance to the expanded Children’s Museum, the
historic Zeiss II Planetarium Projector and
10-inch Siderostat-type Refractor
Telescope must be returned to the Buhl Planetarium building for historical
presentations in the expanded Children’s Museum.
Update: Carnegie Library )
Updates: Carnegie Library and Buhl
Planetarium – 2003 December
Carnegie Library: Late last year,
Carnegie Library tried to sneak a “lease” bill through Pittsburgh City Council
that would actually have given them permission to buy
library buildings from the City for $100 each, then sell them-off for whatever the market would bear. Carnegie Library “promised” that the libraries in those buildings would
be moved to alternate sites (probably storefront-type locations, as they cannot afford much else). Thanks to City Councilman Jim Ferlo, who is now a Senator in the
Pennsylvania General Assembly, Bill 1141 was modified to give City Council a veto over the sell-off of library buildings.
So, once Bill 1141 was
officially approved, Carnegie Library started their program to rehabilitate
certain neighborhood library branches in
Squirrel Hill, and the first floor of the Main Branch. Carnegie Library did not attempt to buy from the City and sell-off any library buildings.
Then came August.27. In a
statement before the Board of Directors of the Allegheny Regional Asset
District (RAD), Carnegie Library Director Herb Elish stated tentative
plans to abandon the historic Hazelwood Branch Library building (built by Andrew Carnegie in 1900), which includes a beautiful stained-glass dome above the original
mahogany circulation desk, and move the branch library three blocks to a smaller, second-floor rental unit, above a laundromat and a deli which sells beer. There would be
no replacement for the Hazelwood Branch Library’s 250-seat auditorium. Mr. Elish told the RAD Board that no final decision would be made until library officials met
with the neighborhood.
However, at the September 9 neighborhood
meeting, held in the Hazelwood Library’s auditorium, Mr. Elish told the 75
attendees that the decision had already been made—
the library was going to be moved. The majority of the neighborhood residents in that meeting was outraged and opposed the abandonment of the historic library building.
Again, at a November 5 public hearing, before Pittsburgh City Council, the majority of speakers opposed the abandonment of the historic Hazelwood Library building.
Additionally, several Hazelwood residents testified against the library building abandonment before the RAD Board; RAD sent this testimony to Carnegie Library officials.
All of this neighborhood opposition has had little effect on Carnegie Library officials; they made a decision and, apparently, they intend to stick with that decision.
On November 19, I sent a
letter to Carnegie Library President Ellsworth Brown requesting that Carnegie
Library comply with the Pennsylvania Right-to-Know Law
and the Pennsylvania Sunshine Act, as required by Title 22 of the Pennsylvania Code. Carnegie Library’s compliance with these two State laws would allow Hazelwood
residents to complain about the proposed library building abandonment at a meeting of the Carnegie Library Board of Trustees, as well as to obtain more specific information about
the abandonment proposal. Title 22 of the Pennsylvania Code requires that all public libraries, which receive State funding, comply with the Sunshine Act and the Right-to-Know Law.
My November 19 letter was
ignored. According to a recent amendment to the Right-to-Know Law, I should
have received a reply by the first week of December. On December 15,
I sent a second letter requesting the information requested in the first letter, as well as additional information. By State law, I should receive a reply to this letter by the first
full week of the new year. If Carnegie Library ignores this second letter, legal action to force compliance with the Pennsylvania Right-to-Know Law and Pennsylvania
Sunshine Act may be necessary.
Update: Buhl Planetarium
Telephone: 412-561-7876 Andrew Carnegie & Carnegie Libraries: <