Friends of the Zeiss                                     Statement Before

P.O. Box 1041                                                            Pittsburgh City Council:

Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania 15230-1041 U.S.A.                2003 January 28

Telephone: 412-561-7876

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Good morning. I am Glenn A. Walsh, and I reside at 633 Royce Avenue in Mount Lebanon. I am Project Director of Friends of the Zeiss.


Tomorrow, you will consider Bill 1337: "Resolution authorizing the Urban Redevelopment Authority of Pittsburgh to submit an Application to the Pennsylvania Office of Budget for a Redevelopment Assistance Capital Program (RACP) grant in the amount of $8,000,000 for the Pittsburgh Children's Museum."

We ask that Bill 1337 be approved by this Council, and the Redevelopment Assistance grant be provided to the Children's Museum, on the following reasonable conditions:

1) Buhl Planetarium's Theater of the Stars and Zeiss Pit cannot be altered in any way which would prevent the return and use, at some future date, of the historic Zeiss II Planetarium Projector. This would include the retention of the historic Westinghouse "Worm-Gear" Elevator and the Zeiss Control Console.


The Carnegie Science Center has said that, if the Zeiss Projector is ever reassembled, it will not provide planetarium shows in the Science Center.
With the acceptance of this condition, this City-owned projector could some day, again, be the oldest operable, major planetarium projector in the world!


2) The People's Observatory, on Buhl Planetarium's third floor, cannot be altered in any way which would prevent the return and use, at some future date, of the historic 10-inch Siderostat-type Refractor Telescope.


The use of this telescope, at The Carnegie Science Center, will require the completion of a $62-90 million expansion of the Science Center. The Science Center has raised no funds for this expansion project, and as with other Carnegie Museums has recently reduced service to the public due to budget cuts. It is likely that the telescope will collect dust in storage for many years, if not forever, waiting for a Science Center expansion.


Hence, maintaining the option of returning the telescope to Buhl Planetarium may be the only way to some day return this City-owned telescope to use by the public.


3) A dedicated lighting system, on the ceiling of Buhl Planetarium's Great Hall, should be retained for possible future return and display of "The Rise of Steel Technology" Mural by local artist Nat Youngblood.


4) A comprehensive inventory of all other City-owned artifacts, from Buhl Planetarium, should be compiled at the direction of City Council, so that these other artifacts are not lost forever. The inventory previously compiled and included in the Children’s Museum Lease is not complete.


Interest in Buhl Planetarium blossomed during the early years of the Space Program. A few years from now, there could be developments in Space Exploration or Astronomy that could cause the future management of the Children’s Museum to incorporate Astronomy education more centrally in its programming. Then, they may not object to the return of the scientific artifacts. Or, in 30 to 50 years, the Children’s Museum may move to another building. It just makes sense to keep all options open for future use of this City-owned building, which must be protected even while it is used by the Children’s Museum.


Contrary to some claims you have heard from the Science Center and Children’s Museum, restoration of these artifacts would not require enormous costs, once they are returned. Volunteer and partnership efforts have restored similar instruments, including a famous old projector in Massachusetts and many historic old telescopes in Pittsburgh and elsewhere.


None of these conditions would significantly hinder the programming of the Children's Museum in the Buhl Planetarium. Hence, we, respectfully, ask that these very reasonable conditions be included with the passage of Bill 1337.

Thank you.