The SOS 2004 (Save Our Summer) efforts should have devoted 20-percent of all donations to a fund that champions long-term solutions and goes beyond the scope of Citiparks control. In 2004, I contacted the leaders of SOS on many instances and this suggestion was made.
Had I been on city council, I would have demanded that the Aquatic Task Force be functional.
* In the summer of 2002, the city operated 32 outdoor swim pools. All of those swim pools were programmed in the same ways, with the same activities and same hours. There were too many pools for the city to support.
* Various pools should have had various activities. Some of the pools should have had swim teams, others could have had water polo teams, underwater hockey, syncro, lap swimming, masters teams, water aerobics, junior lifeguards, swim lessons, diving, kayak, scuba, scout badges, and camps / clincs. Some could host competitions, while others could be for free swims.
* Some of the swim pools are dangerous. They should be closed.
* Some of the swim pools are a disgrace and needed major overhauls. The city has not invested anything into the facilities for decades. Some swim pools should be closed if major investments are not able to be made into these facilities.
* Some of the swim pools don't get used by any patrons. Programming is to blame. But, when a swim pool only has five swimmers on average day in and day out, it should be closed.
Pittsburgh’s Citiparks should leverage funds from SOS and foundations to deploy a Utility Fielding Crew. This staff of three, professional, experienced Rec Center employees would rotate around the city on a scheduled daily basis. With the inventory of 30 closed facilities and one staff, it would be possible to open closed facility once each month.
For every closed, public facility, five trusted individuals should be provided keys and some latitudes within an agreement for value-added stewardship.
As the chair of the committee on Youth Policy and Citiparks, I'd call for serious work and cooperation among the schools and the city.
* The athletic task force to be chaired by Pgh Public School’s Board Member, Randall Taylor, has not become functional. It should. Those meetings should begin in earnest and the meetings should at South Vo Tech and be part of a committee at the budding HELP CENTER.
I'd insist that Pittburgh open a HELP CENTER. This Help Center should be funded, in part, by the Pittsburgh Public Schools (PPS) from the $4-million RAD funds that used to be paid each year to PPS. Those funds were taken from the PPS by the bailout, and they need to be returned.
I'd create specialized city-wide competitions (Tip-off Classics, Holiday Tournaments) and clinics for players and coaches for all sports. The pro teams, universities, sports centers and venues can make contributions to lift the experiences for all within the system.
Let's try to create an artist and community market space by closing the 10th Street Bypass on some summer weekend hours so as to open it to markets and fairs, to bring people closer to the rivers and sell their wares.
Let’s open a Farmers Market at the Oakland Library in the grounds under the trees.
I will do a better job to secure sponsorships, as a chair of the Citiparks Committee.
A more formalized, aggressive bid process for various services and sponsorships (from t-shirts for softball teams to selling the sponsorship rights to the fireworks on the 4th of July) should be escalated by Citiparks with the help of City Council's Committee Chair.
* We must seek local, regional and national sponsorships.
* Sponsorships should be managed by and flow through the Help Center and be a part of Pittsburgh Parks District auctions.
* Example: A sponsorship was expected should lasers be used to decorate an Ohio Gateway Park. (Described in a lead story in the Post Gazette, April 24, 2004, Riverlife).
I will work on City Council to pass legislation to allow for a community aquatics program to operate at the Oliver Bath House. This aquatics program for kids could operate with swimming team practices from 5-7 pm on school days, as had been the practice for decades.
The swim team activities stopped at the end of the fall in 1999 and did not resume after a temporary pool closure for light maintance (lighting upgrade).
In the summer months, the Oliver Bath House closes. That facility could open with an independent agency contract. Lap swimming and swim lessons can happen in the summers at the Oliver Bath House. Those do not need to be managed by the city.
The best Lifeguards from the Pittsburgh Park District should compete with other guards in New Jersey, Chicago and elsewhere.
The HELP CENTER will establish an INSURANCE database with consulting associates. Perhaps a master insurance plan can be an option for various associations.
The Firefighters Union can create both a service and a fund to help nonprofit groups and athletic association deal with insurance and liability issues. The Firefighters Union outreach efforts for insurance can be part of the HELP CENTER.
The city’s plan to reopen the ice rink as crafted by Citiparks staffers (including Schenley Rink’s Manager, Eric Van) should be posted in public on the web and eventually delegated to the HELP CENTER.
The nonprofit group, Hockey-in-the-Hood, a diversity effort with some funding from the NHL, should be offered a 3-year lease and an option for an additional 6 years.
Past and present board members, staffers and the public of a number of institutions should gather for a retrospect of institutional privatization frameworks. This should occur at the HELP CENTER as soon as possible.
The existing policy of month-to-month leases for nonprofit agency access to Recreation Centers is not constructive. Short term deals cause a frailness in the investments for children. Any agency that gets a lease with the city to reopen on the Recreation Centers should get an option for keeping the center open for at least a year. Agencies can break the lease, but Citiparks can’t if the agency is doing a good job in programming the spaces.
The license program now being organized by Citiparks should be made public with email and postings to a working web site. Different groups in different neighborhoods need to see what and who is making progress, and not.
Allow, and make a best practice, single agencies as prime supervisors for operating the now closed centers. A prime agency increases accountability and responsibility. The prime agency supervises and coordinates onsite issues and delegates other times and sub spaces to subcontractors, all within the neighborhood.
Advertising in the parks is not presently permitted. But, it has been raised as an issue and brings a hornets nest of issues into the mix. The log-jam should be broken and a middle ground can be found among those who hate advertising and those who are in dire need of some funding for programs for the youth.
The I.C.A./Oversight Board can over-rule existing policies of the city to allow for the sale of advertising and marketing messages at Citiparks facilities.
The discussion of what should be sold and how the messages should be treated should happen as part of the mission at the Help Center.
Not only should the discussions happen at the Help Center, but the eventual auctions of naming rights can be coordinated by the HELP CENTER.
Create a Community Hub to be located within a Pittsburgh Public School building (South Vo Tech High School). This common ground facility will function as an interface among schools, school districts, CCAC (Community College of Allegheny County), city government, county government, state government, PSU (Penn State Extension) athletic associations, agencies, volunteers, etc.
Lifeguard training, competitions, recertification, job notices, research, coordination with Red Cross, Ys, awards, scholarships, oversight of reports, travel, and mentoring can occur within the HELP CENTER. In time, those activities can be shifted to the HOSTELLING INTERNATIONAL site, owned and operated by the Lifeguards.
Lifeguards should march in Pittsburgh’s Labor Day Parade.
Lifeguards should have an open-water swim competition.
I'd open a model, urban 4H Club, with the help of Penn State Extension, at the HELP CENTER at South Vo Tech High School.
Comcast should provide high speed cable modem broadband service to various sites throughout the city as part of the Youth Technology Summit efforts.
A South Vo Tech High School Grand Homecoming, open house, school benefit, public concert, soccer clinic and community discussion could be held at South Vo Tech and take the place of the now defunt South Side Summer Street Spectacular.
Pitt should play its Blue vs. Gold spring football game at South’s High School Stadium (Cupples Stadium) on the South Side.
Downtown would be a fine place for a swing set. A mini-playground could be part of Point State Park.
Point State Park’s recent planning documents should be put online, debated at the HELP CENTER, and validated or rejected with non-binding polls and binding votes.
The B.I.G. League office should move into the HELP CENTER.
Citiparks Aquatics Division should quickly move to craft, write, produce, revise, and open documents that reveal the scope and magnitude of the department’s efforts. The operations, programming, plans, incidents, accidents, budgets, safety, user-satisfaction, analysis, evaluations, and attendance levels (etc.) would be made public on the internet.
A request to document and make public information all aquatic assets should be delivered to school districts, Allegheny County, CCAC and others.
The City of Pittsburgh should meet with Allegheny County to organizer and coordinate the sale of pool tags for summer-time pools that includes admission to all City Pools and all County Pools, and perhaps other facilities. The County should collect the money.
The road races operated by Citiparks would be transferred to the Pittsburgh Park District. Offices should be merged into the Help Center.
More stability, volunteers, openness and community coordination can occur with the overall event hosting. Race headquarters can be at the HELP CENTER.
Sponsorship packages for races and special events would be auction transactions.
The marathon's main focus should be on the main event. Same too with other events. For example, on the day of the marathon, don’t hold relays and short distance races. Make relays happen at other times and with deliberate, coordinated oversight from the sporting community.
Insist that the existing Civic Arena remain. Allow a new home for the Penguins to be built with private funds, but do NOT allow the old arena to be taken away.
This new entity is its own taxing body, democratically driven, fully public in its operation.
The Pittsburgh Park District would include:
* Coaches and parks volunteers need to gather and huddle to renew our shared visions and common ground.
* Turn the control of the parks and programming over to the first elected board for the Pittsburgh Park District in the years to come.
* Donors should be courted and presented with a suite of worthy options for funding. However, decisions as to priorities of the public needs to be established by citizens, not just the donors.
Waterpolo instructional clinics, camps, teams, leagues and even in kayaks could flourish in the Pittsburgh region.
Throughout a five to ten year period, the various coaches, teams, sports and schools of the Pgh Public School District should be merged into the WPIAL.
The HELP CENTER can insist that the gyms, libraries, pools, and other school based facilities are open to coaches, programs, teachers, parents, and volunteers.
A school-based Recreation Center should open at the now closed Gladstone Middle School.
Rather than lighting the city steps in Pittsburgh neighborhoods, first, let’s fix and maintain them. It would be great if Pittsburgh could maintain what it has.
All the consultants, designers, architects, lawyers and urban planners with names on city plans or contracts within the past term should be audited and sent letters asking for a refund of all fees paid to them from the City of Pittsburgh.
Future considerations can examine these plans with skepticism.
All planning efforts that concern Parks and Recreation becomes the responsibility of the HELP CENTER and be part of the Pittsburgh Park District.
The Oliver Bath House will merge into the operation of Allegheny County Parks and Rec and then into the Pittsburgh Park District.
The HELP CENTER can coordinate volunteers to monitor closed facilities.
The HELP CENTER can coordinate volunteers to lend help to the workers on the utility fielding crews.
The closed indoor ice rink, and the park it resides within, is to be part of the Pittsburgh Park District.
Lifeguards of the Pittsburgh Park District should establish their own headquarters and leadership culture with some for-profit operations. A link with the HELP CENTER and the available Hostelling International location is a viable possibility to be explored.
Have Pittsburgh Public Schools work with Comcast and the HELP Center to make a computer depot available within a room at South Vo Tech High School.
Form a steering committee to insure a successful Youth Technology Summit to be held at the Convention Center.
Pitt’s Hockey Club Teams (both men and women) should consider a long-term lease at the now closed indoor ice rink on the South Side.
Insist that the contract between UPMC Sports Medicine’s site be reviewed and the asset delegated from the South Side Forum, a group that has not been able to execute on the pledge, to the HELP CENTER and the Pittsburgh Park District.
Point State Park should transfer into the domain of the Pittsburgh Park District.
Point State Park could make a nice site for a disk golf course.
B.I.G. League merges with the Pittsburgh Park District.
The Citiparks Aquatics Division should merge with the department that runs the swimming pools with Allegheny County.
*Allegheny County would maintain and operate the pools in the city in the mid-term. The Pittsburgh Parks District would operate the pools in the long term.
With the creation of the HELP CENTER, great discussions and debates with plenty of open documentation, planning and community engagement should swirl around these closed swim pools.
The marathon should resume. However, the marathon should proceed without it inflicting serious traffic snarls.
National Senior Games and Convention and Visitor’s Bureau can blend services with the HELP DESK and Pittsburgh Park District.
Volunteers for special events, such as the Senior Games, can be organized and trained as part of the HELP CENTER.
Headquarters for events such as the National Senior Games, even if on a temporary (seasonal, yearly) basis, can be located within the space at South Vo Tech High School as part of the HELP CENTER.
The bid process for state, regional and national events is to be coordinated at the HELP CENTER.
A design contest for the existing Civic Arena can be conducted. This contest can be an interesting activity for the Help Center.
Others municipalities beyond the city could opt into the Pittsburgh Park District in years to come. Over time, in a controlled evolution, with ample referendums and votes, the Pittsburgh Park District, as a governmental branch, could expand and/or contract to include other areas.
The RAD Tax and RAD Board should be evaluated and perhaps eliminated. Voter referendums would be encouraged. More democratic processes should be in place within the RAD Board.
All park facilities and parks locations would be merged to the Pittsburgh Park District. The public assets can be evaluated and managed in open ways and with votes. Pgh Public School facilities in times beyond academic periods are managed with permits obtained in coordination with the Pittsburgh Park District’s HELP CENTER.
Make the Youth Technology Summit in Pittsburgh as one of the largest events in the world and one of the largest annual events at the Convention
I am worried about the inventory of 30 closed facilities in terms of Recreation and more than 20 closed facilities from our schools.
Some foundation or authority funds should be obtained to deploy a Utility Fielding Crew. This staff of perhaps three, professional, experienced Rec Center employees would rotate around the city on a scheduled daily basis to open facilities for community use and to show of the facilities to potential investors for re-development.