Statement Before the Glenn A. Walsh

Council of the City of Pittsburgh P.O. Box 1041

Regarding the RFP for Disposition of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania 15230-1041

Buhl Planetarium Equipment Telephone: 412-561-7876

2002 July 2 E-Mail: < >

Web Site: < >

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

Last week, we received a letter (copy attached) from Dale A. Perrett, Director of the City of Pittsburgh Department of General Services, regarding the status of our Response to the RFP regarding preservation of four Buhl Planetarium artifacts. This letter was short, quite vague, and stated that the Department did not accept our bid for "any portion of the proposal to lease artifacts from the Buhl Planetarium." The letter gave no reason for this, nor did it state if any other organization received a bid award!

As stated in the RFP, we certainly understand that, "At its sole discretion, the City of Pittsburgh reserves the right to reject any and/or all proposals." The RFP also states, "Acceptance of proposal may be conditioned and contingent upon the approval of the Mayor and City Council of the City of Pittsburgh." Did the members of this Council have the opportunity to provide input into the Department's decision? I know consideration of responses to the RFP never appeared on the agenda of City Council.

Yesterday, I mailed a letter (copy attached) to Mr. Perrett asking for an explanation of the Department's decision. Under the terms of the Pennsylvania Right to Know Law [Act of June 21, 1957, P.L. 390, No. 212, 60 P.S. 66.1 et seq., as amended], I am also asking for copies of the RFP Response(s), award letter(s), and legally in-force lease contract(s) regarding the winning bid(s) for the preservation of the Buhl Planetarium artifacts. Further, I am asking for a copy of the legally in-force lease contract for the Buhl Planetarium building.

I have noticed that the publicized June groundbreaking, for the proposed Pittsburgh Children's Museum and Center, did not occur due to the lack of State funding. Considering the current financial plight of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, it could be a year, or longer, before the requested $7-10 million is available for the Children's Museum's project. Indeed, considering that Phipps Conservatory has been waiting nearly two years for their request of $5 million in State funds for their expansion project, it seems that capital funding for museum expansion projects has a low priority in State Government, at this time.

Should the Children's Museum's proposed project be indefinitely deferred, the Buhl Planetarium artifacts should remain in the building for possible use by other tenants. Yes, there is a definite chance that other possible tenants may wish to take advantage of the unique assets in the Buhl Planetarium.

Indeed, just a few years ago the National Aviary considered expanding their operation into the Buhl Planetarium. At that time, they were very interested in using the Zeiss II Planetarium Projector to produce a program, which educated the public on how birds navigate by the stars. This would have been a wonderful reuse of the historic Zeiss projector!

Buhl Planetarium artifacts should not be removed from the building, until "complete and secured financing arrangements" for the completion of any proposed rehabilitation project are publicly demonstrable under the terms of the Pennsylvania Right to Know Law [Act of June 21, 1957, P.L. 390, No. 212, 60 P.S. 66.1 et seq., as amended].

Thank you.


History of The Buhl Planetarium and Institute of Popular Science, Pittsburgh

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