Is Study Really Needed?
Back in 2007, Allegheny County commissioned a consultant to give ideas about what to do with the parks system. Among other things, including creating a non-profit like the Pittsburgh Parks Conservancy, there was a belief that the County should be pushing for private sector involvement in the parks for "operation, maintenance, and renovation" and, in addition to tennis courts and swimming pools one facility for attention was the North Park boat house.
There was a major dredging project at the lake that was completed this year. A master plan for the lake area was published by the County in April that solicited public input on how to improve the overall area, including the boat house. That report mentioned "alternative uses for the building could include a concessions area or park café with an outdoor dining terrace overlooking the lake, bike and boat rental facility, fishing/bait shop, and satellite nature center office. The plan put the price tag for a "boathouse feasibility study" at $50,000.
According to the County Parks department website, a project that is part of a larger non-profit organization already handles kayak rentals at the boat house and they plan more hours in 2013. So that would appear not to be needed for study. And this week County Council is expected to take up whether a private operator should operate and manage a full service restaurant at the boat house. It is not clear if the feasibility study mentioned in the master plan from April has been completed: it does not appear on the Parks website. But it appears that when the master plan mentioned a "park café" this is probably what was in mind. If Council approves the proposal without the feasibility study in hand, and has a non-profit and a private entity entertaining folks at the facility, does the money still have to be spent?