Transcript of Oral Testimony Before the
Board of Directors of the
Allegheny Regional Asset District
Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

Regular Meeting of the District Board of Directors
Monday, August 27, 2001, 5:30 p.m.
Lower Level Conference Room, United Way Building
One Smithfield Street, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania 15222-2221

Speaker: Richard Wood

Good Evening.

My name is Richard Wood. I am a lifelong resident of Allegheny County. I maintain my household along with my wife and three chidren, ages 5, 7, and 16, in Robinson Township. I am proud to consider myself working-class; I aspire to nothing less.

The Pittsburgh area has a long and glorious history of reaching out, embracing, and elevating the children of working-class families. It is a side of ourselves that we should celebrate and proudly present to the world. It must be preserved, if we are to be true to ourselves, to our ancestors, and to our descendants.

This spirit is epitomized in Pittsburgh institutions such as the system of Carnegie Free Libraries, in the "Trolley College", and, in decades past, Henry Buhl's gift to the City of Pittsburgh, The Buhl Planetarium and Institute of Popular Science. I have been fortunate to be given the opportunity to avail myself of all of those institutions just mentioned.

Like thousands of other working-class Pittsburgh area children, I remember spending Saturday mornings and summer days in Science Classes, attending Sky Shows, and participating in Science Fairs.

It was at "The Buhl" that I discovered the human need, beyond time and place, to contemplate the majesty and mystery of everything that surrounds me - Newton's "Great Ocean of Truth". It was there that I was made to feel a connection to, and empathy with, Hipparchus, and Ptolemy, and Galileo. I consider myself privileged to be possessed of the knowledge that when I gaze out at the firmament, I am feeling and thinking and wondering the same things as those great and deep thinkers did.

Appropriate to the theme of "Popular" Science, it was a plumber and amateur astronomer, Leo J. Scanlon, who proposed the establishment of a public planetarium here in Pittsburgh. There is a grand Pittsburgh tradition of amateur and professional Astronomy, of Brashear, and Langley, and Thaw, and Scanlon, and hundreds others, that must not be forgotten.

The Buhl is a uniquely "Pittsburgh" landmark, and we owe it to generations of Pittsburgher's - past and yet to come - to not let it face deconstruction.

It is not sappy nostalgia that brings me here. One can, it has been said, never go home, again. It is, however, my and my family's wish that this sublime edifice - "The Buhl" - will remain intact until someone or some group with the vision and magnanimity of its' original benefactor recognizes the great potential for enlightenment that it holds.

I am here this evening to publicly express my and my family's unequivocal and unqualified opposition to public funding of any proposal that seeks to compromise the architectural integrity of the Buhl, with its' quiet but imposing elegance, or the dismantling and removal of the remaining instruments of study and instruction, most notably the Zeiss Projector, and the People's Observatory, with it's Siderostat Telescope.

In closing, I respectfully remind the board of its' solemn responsibility as stewards for the area's assets that they must consider the long-term consequences of their actions, and I ask that the board duly note and consider what has been said.

Thank you for your kind attention.