Friends of the Zeiss RFP Response 2002 May 22 Page VIII-1
Request for Proposals
Criteria and Rationale
1) Purpose of RFP: "seeking proposals for the lease and relocation" of historic Buhl Planetarium equipment and artifacts. Friends of the Zeiss is seeking lease of this equipment and artifacts only; the equipment and artifacts should not be relocated. Friends of the Zeiss can lease, and be responsible for, the historic equipment and artifacts, while a tenant, probably the Pittsburgh Children's Museum, can lease, and be responsible for the Buhl Planetarium building. Hence, it should be emphasized that the Pittsburgh Children's Museum would not be responsible for the non-relocated historic equipment and artifacts, as has been implied in the past.
As neither the Lease Ordinance, approved by Pittsburgh City Council on April 9, nor the Lease Agreement between the City of Pittsburgh and the Pittsburgh Children's Museum, requires relocation, we interpret the "relocation" clause to be one of several possible options. Indeed, it was the controversy regarding the possible relocation of the Zeiss projector and Siderostat telescope that resulted in City Council amending Bill 277; this led to the RFP process. Had the idea of relocation not been controversial, there would have been no need for the RFP process. Hence, the amendment to Bill 277 implies that all options will be given equal consideration,
2) Insurance: Friends of the Zeiss is a new organization, which is in the process of acquiring 501(c)(3) IRS tax-exempt status. Once we receive this status, and we receive support from the City of Pittsburgh for maintaining the historic pieces of equipment and artifacts, we will be able to begin fundraising efforts. We anticipate that once the equipment and artifacts are available to be under our control(following the conclusion of construction activities by the Pittsburgh Children's Museum) we will be able to purchase the necessary insurance.
We suggest that it may be advisable for Friends of the Zeiss to purchase this insurance as a rider on the policy of the Landlord or the Tenant. We would explore this possibility.
3) Transportation of Equipment: The Friends of the Zeiss proposals does not include dismantling, transportation, and reassembly of the historic equipment and artifacts. Any partial disassembly would only be for restoration and maintenance purposes. We would be very careful during any such partial disassembly, to ensure the historic integrity and functional qualities of the equipment and artifacts are fully maintained.
4) Operation, Display, and Description of Use: As indicated in the previous sections, professional consultants will be retained for the restoration of the equipment and artifacts. At the present time, we are seeking experienced Zeiss planetarium technician(s) to assist with the restoration of the Zeiss projector; an experienced technician from Chicago may assist us. Volunteer technicians, who have worked on the Siderostat telescope in the past, will assist with the minor restoration needs of the Siderostat telescope. A conservator will be employed to evaluate and perform restoration on the Mural and World Map.
Experienced operators of the Zeiss projector and Siderostat telescope will volunteer their time to operate this equipment. These experienced operators will also train new volunteer operators. A training manual will be published, and a training routine will be established; refresher-training courses will also be held periodically.
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In regards to interaction of the scientific apparatus with the public, this is detailed in the respective sections. In general, if Proposals I or II are accepted by the City, public planetarium shows and public telescope observing sessions will occur similar to the way they were presented at Buhl Planetarium for more than fifty years. These public programs will emphasize the historic nature of the equipment.
If Proposal III is accepted, only occasional viewing of the equipment, not operational, could be afforded to the public. In the case of the Zeiss projector, a new window in the south wall of the Zeiss Pit could allow Children's Museum patrons to see the projector, during Museum visiting hours. The Zeiss projector would be lit during these hours. Explanatory signage would be adjacent to the window. And, for additional information on the history of the projector, an interactive computer will be set-up adjacent to the window, including information from the History of Buhl Planetarium Internet web site; this large web site of historical information has been active for more than two and one-half years:
< http://www.planetarium.cc >
In the case of the Mural and the World Map, these would be on display above the cafe, during visiting hours of the Pittsburgh Children's Museum and Center.
5) Funding Sources: As previously indicated, Friends of the Zeiss has an application pending to become a "project" of the Tides Center of Western Pennsylvania. Once we receive "project" status, we will be able to use the 501(c)(3) IRS tax-exempt status of the Tides Center to begin fundraising.
However, before such fundraising can be effective, we will need the support of the City of Pittsburgh, as the historic equipment and artifacts are City property. Regrettably, recent media publicity has led most of the public(including potential funders) to believe that the equipment has already been promised to The Carnegie Science Center. In the best of times, it is difficult to obtain financial support from private and governmental funding sources. Support from the City of Pittsburgh, for our proposal, is crucial to obtaining such funding.
Others have assumed, and publicly stated, that a great deal of money("millions of dollars") would be needed to implement our proposal. We strongly challenge such an assertion. The historic equipment and artifacts were in daily use for the benefit of the public from October 24, 1939 until August 31, 1991. Further, they were used for children's Science classes until February of 1994. Although they have not received regular maintenance since 1994, no independent evaluation has been presented to indicate major problems with the equipment and artifacts.
The only evaluation we have seen in writing was in an April letter from the Carl Zeiss Company to Carnegie Science Center Planetarium Director John Radzilowicz(publicly distributed by Mr. Radzilowicz), which included a thinly-disguised sales pitch for The Carnegie Science Center to purchase of a new Zeiss projector. The letter specifically states, "In the medium term, therefore it is much more economic to purchase a new projector." Hence, the evaluation included in the letter is suspect.
When Mark E. Bier, Ph.D., Director of the Center for Molecular Analysis in the Carnegie Mellon University Chemistry Department, requested similar information, he was told in a brief note that there was one thin file giving the information he was interested in; they promised to send him the information in this file. He received no further correspondence from the Carl Zeiss Company.
There is no doubt that some of the technical points covered in this letter will need to be addressed. There is also no doubt that these technical points were addressed for many years by the very able Buhl Planetarium technicians who kept the planetarium projector operating from 1939 through 1994!
As mentioned in the our Zeiss proposals, a full maintenance and cleaning of the Zeiss projector will be needed prior to reuse of the projector. We are seeking to retain an experienced Zeiss planetarium
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technician(s) to put the projector back in use. Since the Westinghouse Worm-Gear Elevator was only sealed in 1996, maintenance by an elevator company should bring this equipment back into operation.
From time-to-time a part, in the projector will fail. Then a new part will need to be custom-made for the projector. A couple of machinists, who custom-make parts for the operating equipment of the Nineteenth Century Duquesne Incline, have agreed to assist us with these needs.
A star projector, of a similar age, received restoration in 1996. The Korkosz Projector, located at the Springfield Museum of Science in Springfield, Massachusetts, began operation in 1937. Although this projector is smaller than, and not quite as complex as, Buhl Planetarium's Zeiss II projector, this restoration project provides a reasonable idea of what it may take to restore Buhl's Zeiss projector. The web page, describing the restoration project for the Korkosz Projector(which they call a planetarium--however, it is actually a stellarium, as this projector cannot display the motions of any planets) is attached; you can view this web page in color at the following URL:
< http://www.pielock.com/kork.htm >
6) Terms of Lease: First, although not stated in the RFP, we assume that the lease of the historic equipment and artifacts in Buhl Planetarium would be at a cost of one dollar per year, for 29 years and 11 months. These are the terms of the lease of The Buhl Planetarium and Institute of Popular Science building to the Pittsburgh Children's Museum. We would accept these terms.
As previously stated, Friends of the Zeiss proposes to lease the historic equipment and artifacts in the present, non-relocated, location. We anticipate that we would not be able to have access to these pieces of
equipment and artifacts, for restoration purposes, during proposed construction activities of the Pittsburgh Children's Museum and Center. However, we do ask for the ability to monitor construction activities, so we can be sure nothing is done to inadvertently compromise the functionality or historic integrity of the equipment or artifacts.
7) Viewing of the Equipment: Six members of Friends of the Zeiss did take the tour of Buhl Planetarium, to view the historic equipment and artifacts, during the tour(one of four tours offered) on Monday, April 29, 2002 at 2:00 p.m.(EDST). We wish to take this opportunity to thank the City of Pittsburgh Department of General Services, and their representative, John Sibbet, for this tour.
We note, with puzzlement, that the first sentence of the City of Pittsburgh Department of General Services RFP states: "General Description: The City of Pittsburgh is seeking proposals for the lease and relocation of the Zeiss II Star Projector with control panel; the Siderostat Refractor Telescope; the History of Technology Mural(or "Rivers of Steel Mural" as it is sometimes called) and the Seaport Light Map currently located at the Buhl Planetarium Building."
We do not understand why the word "relocation" is in the RFP document. There is no reference to any legal requirement of relocation of these historic pieces of equipment and artifacts in either the Lease Ordinance approved by Pittsburgh City Council on April 9, or the Lease Agreement between the City of Pittsburgh and the Pittsburgh Children's Museum.
Section 2 of Bill Number 2002-0277, which was an amendment added by City Council, simply states:
"The agreement between the City of Pittsburgh and the Children's Museum shall contain a stipulation which provides for an eight-week reprieve so that the City of Pittsburgh can review disposition and utilization of the artifacts located in the Buhl Planetarium."
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There is nothing in that section that requires the equipment and artifacts to be relocated. In fact, the word "utilization" could be construed to mean that the equipment should not be relocated, since operation of the Zeiss projector and Siderostat telescope is not possible should they be relocated!
Further, Section 2.06 of the Lease Agreement actually includes a contingency if the Zeiss projector and Siderostat telescope are not relocated. This section states, in part: "Should the projector(or telescope) be returned or not loaned, the Landlord(City of Pittsburgh) shall retain the right to control its location and use..."
The RFP also states: "Proposals for operational equipment are strongly encouraged..." Yet, again, relocation of the Zeiss projector and the Siderostat telescope would render both instruments inoperable! In the case of the Zeiss projector, perhaps the lights can be activated, and a few star-like images may be projected on a nearby screen, but without full dome projection capability, it will not serve the function of a planetarium projector if relocated!
For the aforementioned reasons, Friends of the Zeiss has interpreted the "relocation" clause to be one of several options, to be evaluated equally by the City of Pittsburgh when considering bids
The RFP states that the "Bidder must submit...detailed description of funding sources available and secured...Complete and secured financing arrangements must be completed within thirty(30) days of notification of award."
Clearly, as a new non-for-profit organization, which has not yet received 501(c)(3) status, we will not be able to meet this criterion at this time. Indeed, we question whether any interested party, other than The Carnegie Science Center, could meet such a stringent requirement.
With all due respect, we wonder if this RFP was specifically designed for one bidder: The Carnegie Science Center. If so, it is our opinion that this RFP does not satisfy the requirements of the Lease Ordinance, particularly the amendment to this ordinance(Section 2 of the ordinance) as approved by Pittsburgh City Council on April 9.
We note, with disappointment, that the Amateur Astronomers' Association of Pittsburgh(AAAP) has gone on record favoring the dismantling of the Zeiss projector and Siderostat telescope. As several members of Friends of the Zeiss also belong to the AAAP, we believe this decision should be placed in proper context.
The decision to support dismantling of the Zeiss and Siderostat was made by the club's Executive Committee. There was no direct input from other members of the club. The Executive Committee did not solicit such input; nor did they provide any presentation or written information to club members on the issue.
The AAAP now has approximately 550 members. A large percentage of these members joined the club within the last few years and are not well acquainted with the issue regarding the historic Buhl Planetarium equipment and artifacts.
It should be noted that the AAAP and The Carnegie Science Center have overlapping membership and overlapping interests. Indeed, the Planetarium Director of The Carnegie Science Center, who has publicly called-for dismantling of the historic apparatus, sits on the AAAP Executive Committee.
However, not all members of the AAAP agree with the decision of the Executive Committee. Several members of the AAAP also belong to Friends of the Zeiss. This includes Steering Committee members
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Barry M. Mitnick(former AAAP Vice President), John D. Weinhold, and Glenn A. Walsh. Further, in addition to AAAP members that support Friends of the Zeiss, the messages on the AAAP Internet
Listserver indicated that there is a sizable contingent of AAAP members who believe the club should have taken no official position on the controversy.
In addition to people who are members of both Friends of the Zeiss and AAAP, attached are statements from two AAAP members, who do not belong to Friends of the Zeiss, who do not support dismantling of the equipment:
Further, when the Zeiss and Siderostat were proposed for sale to out-of-state concerns in 1995, I discussed this issue on the telephone with AAAP co-founder Leo J. Scanlon. As the one individual most responsible for the creation of Buhl Planetarium, and the first Buhl Planetarium Lecturer, he opposed the sale of the equipment and felt the equipment should continue to be used at Buhl Planetarium. In his 90s at that time, his health did not permit him to attend the 1995 public hearing before Pittsburgh City Council. He passed away in November of 1999.
In regard to the proposal to move the Zeiss projector and Siderostat telescope to The Carnegie Science Center, we have several concerns:
1) The time period(publicly stated at 4 to 8 years) that the equipment would be in storage seems excessively long. We note that the RFP specifically says, "All artifacts must be available for public display in a suitable environment." Indefinite storage of the equipment would not meet this criterion.
2) The display of the artifacts, at The Carnegie Science Center, is completely dependent on the successful raising of $90 million for an expansion project; hence, the amount of storage time is really unknown. This large an amount of money, to be raised for a museum construction project, is nearly unprecedented in Pittsburgh. The only comparison would be to the construction of Carnegie Institute in 1895--but in this case, Andrew Carnegie had his funding in-place from day-one!
Although an architect has been hired for the expansion project, to our knowledge, no construction funding has been raised from the private sector, or appropriated by the Governor's Office. Should the fundraising fall short of the $90 million goal, it is quite conceivable that display of the Zeiss Projector and Siderostat telescope would be deferred--possibly forever! Even if the equipment were returned to the City, there would no longer be any place to assemble the equipment. It would remain in storage forever!
3) Further, we cannot forget that The Carnegie Science Center attempted to sell the Zeiss projector and Siderostat telescope to out-of-state concerns in 1995. When The Carnegie Science Center decides, for lack of funding or other reasons, that it can not display the equipment, and the City no longer has a location to house the reassembled equipment, The Carnegie Science Center may, again, seek City permission to sell the equipment.
It seems to us that The Carnegie Science Center simply wishes to remove, what they perceive as, a potential competitor of planetarium shows. Thus, Pittsburgh history would be dismantled so that The Carnegie Science Center can operate the only major planetarium in Western Pennsylvania. Once the equipment is dismantled, and the threat of competition is removed, excuses will be found in later years for not consuming valuable Science Center exhibit space with, what is considered "antique, obsolete equipment."
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In regards to the Pittsburgh Children's Museum, it is amazing to us that they boast programming from the National Science Foundation, and host an annual National Science Day for children(one of only a dozen institutions nationwide, to host this Science Day), yet they claim that operating scientific equipment, such as the Zeiss projector and Siderostat telescope, are "not in their mission statement." Since the Children's Museum obviously does include Science education in their curriculum, it appears that The Carnegie Science Center does not consider this competition. Yet, apparently, the Children's Museum's use of the Zeiss projector and Siderostat telescope would be seen as competition!
Interestingly, the Children's Museum has agreed to restore one astronomically-related instrument, the original 1939 Foucault Pendulum, as part of the Children's Museum's expansion plans. But they want no part of the 1939 Zeiss projector or 1941 Siderostat telescope! This makes no sense to us.
However, we are willing to operate the Zeiss projector and Siderostat telescope independently, as a supplement to Children's Museum programming and at no cost to the City or the Children's Museum.
In this RFP Response document, we have detailed our plans for the historic equipment and artifacts in Buhl Planetarium. It would be our mission to have the equipment functional and artifacts available for viewing for future generations of residents of Pittsburgh and Western Pennsylvania. However, we cannot do this without the support of the City of Pittsburgh.
The City of Pittsburgh owns the historic equipment and artifacts. Recent media publicity has indicated that the Zeiss projector and Siderostat telescope will probably be loaned/leased to The Carnegie Science Center. Thus, no foundation, or other possible funder, would even consider our request for funding, for restoration and maintenance of the equipment and artifacts, under the current circumstances!
As I am sure you know, grant funding from both private and governmental sources is difficult to obtain under the best of conditions. However, when there is the clear indication that another organization, The
Carnegie Science Center, will receive the lease of the Zeiss projector and the Siderostat telescope, no other organization, including Friends of the Zeiss, would even have a chance to obtain grant funds for restoration and maintenance of the historic equipment.
Important Pittsburgh history will be lost, if these historic pieces of equipment and artifacts are dismantled and relocated. In fact, we seriously question whether they would truly be reassembled at all--functional or non-functional--once dismantled. We want to help preserve this important Pittsburgh history. However to do this, we need the support of the City of Pittsburgh.
Please, help us help you preserve Pittsburgh history.