Planning pussyfoots pummel PPU

Planning pussyfoots pummel PPU

Downtown Pittsburgh remains a growing cesspool of shootings, drug-dealing and vagrants using the streets as public toilets. Yet the city Planning Commission continues to drag its feet over Point Park University’s commonsense attempt to restore lawful order and basic cleanliness on its campus.

The Planning Commission should be ashamed of its passive-aggressive pummeling.

As the Post-Gazette recounts the dispute, Point Park “is seeking to install 6 ½-foot high fencing and two gates to block off at night what are now open archways and stairs leading to a courtyard and second floor terrace” at its phenomenal Pittsburgh Playhouse footprint.

The open courtyard has become a favored spot for those believing public spaces are an invitation to urinate, defecate and deal drugs. Who knows what other nefarious activities have been going on there.

But the Planning Commission steadfastly has refused to go along with the university’s much-needed, and now overdue, efforts to secure the location.

As the P-G further explains the dispute:

“(T)he commission so far has resisted the effort, fearing that a fence and gates would make the space much less inviting to the public. It tabled the university’s initial plan to secure the space in September.”

And this past Tuesday, it tabled the matter again.

Again, from the P-G:

“While encouraged by the latest attempt, the commission [gave] Point Park more time to work with an artist and an architect and perhaps the city’s design review panel to fine tune it.”

Said LaShawn Burton-Faulk, the Planning Commission’s vice chairwoman, “You’re on the way and it feels good. I just want you to keep your foot on the gas and let’s get to what I feel could be a real resolution.”

But where a “feel-good resolution” is sought by the commission, real security, and security that makes a statement, is required.

Point Park’s revised, rejected, gating proposal would replace the first-proposed fence’s railing with a “boxed cable grid” designed to create a “window frame” look.

What, no flower boxes? And, what, no kiosk for a needle-exchange program?

Frankly, there was nothing at all wrong with Point Park’s quite attractive initial fence/gate proposal. And this continuing micro-managing by the Planning Commission is costing time and money – time the public weal does not have to stop bad actors from engaging in unacceptable behavior and public money better spent elsewhere.

But this is Pittsburgh, where public policy malpractice long has been endemic and the public that pays the consequences be damned.

The Planning Commission’s continued pussyfooting over Point Park’s commendable attempts to secure the playhouse footprint serves no useful public purpose.

And should it continue this behavior, we suggest commission members, armed with feather dusters, be charged with the responsibility of personally securing the playhouse’s property.

Colin McNickle communications and marketing director at the Allegheny Institute for Public Policy (cmcnickle@alleghenyinstitute.org).