Friends of the Zeiss                                     Statement Before

P.O. Box 1041                                                            Pittsburgh City Council:

Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania 15230-1041 U.S.A.                    2003 July 22

Telephone: 412-561-7876

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

Tomorrow, you will consider Bill 2003-2095, which would permit the City Administration to issue to the Pittsburgh Children’s Museum a Quit Claim Deed for half of the street, between the Children’s Museum and Buhl Planetarium, and also for the yard on the west side of Buhl Planetarium. A gentleman in the City Treasurer’s Office told me that this conveyance is necessary to allow financing for the proposed building expansion of the Children’s Museum.
We are concerned that this conveyance will give the Children’s Museum, for no compensation to the City, valuable City property that could be sold, sometime in the future, with no compensation coming to the City of Pittsburgh. Thirty to fifty years from now, the Children’s Museum may decide to move into a larger building, someplace else. They could then sell that property, along with the two buildings they own, to help pay for the larger building. The City of Pittsburgh would have nothing to say about this sale and would receive no compensation for the sale of the valuable property underneath the “Nightlight Building.”
Now, of course, the City will continue to own, and have control over, the Buhl Planetarium building. However, the other two buildings, along with the land underneath the “Nightlight Building,” could still be sold to another entity, regardless of the City’s wishes.
We suggest that it would be in the City’s best interests to maintain some type of control over the land, where the “Nightlight Building” would be constructed. If the conveyance is necessary for financing purposes, then we suggest that the City maintain reversionary interests in this land.
Tomorrow, we ask that you add an amendment to Bill 2003-2095 which states that the land being conveyed to the Children’s Museum would revert back to the ownership of the City of Pittsburgh, if any of the following should occur:
1)       If the property is no longer being used for charitable purposes;
2)       If the property is vacated or abandoned;
3)       If there is any attempt to sell, lease, or otherwise convey or transfer the “Nightlight Building” to another entity.
Such an amendment, to Bill 2003-2095 should not affect the ability of the Children’s Museum to obtain financing for their proposed building project. However, such an amendment would protect the legitimate interests of the taxpayers of the City of Pittsburgh.
We ask that our proposal be given serious consideration, during your deliberations tomorrow.
Thank you.