I decided to throw some top water baits today to see how the relatively warm weather has contributed to fish activity. Casting near the riverbank, I was surprised to hook into a beautiful paddlefish. Realising what a precious fish was on my line, I gently released it back into the water. A Paddlefish community once thrived in the lower Hill District, immortalized in the documentary Wylie Avenue Days, but was destroyed because of the loss of community habitat. As ecologist Mindy Fullilove writes in Rootshock,
The Urban Renewal Act of 1949 set in motion urban renewal projects in cities across the United States. Urban renewal, especially at the outset, was a program designed to clear large areas of “slum” housing to make way for modern develop-ments. In general, the cleared land was sold to private developers for use in new developments designed to extend the central business district or to attract middle income residents. In either case, the former residents of the area were relocated outside the renewal district.........One of the case studies for her book was the construction of The Civic Arena and she examines the lingering traumatic stress reactions to the destruction of one's emotional ecosystem. Many lower Hill District residents were forcibly dislocated to other areas in Pittsburgh, and we can now see that contribution to segregation among Pittsburgh's otherwise lovely neighborhoods.
In 1961, for example, African Americans were 10% of the US population, but 66% of residents of areas slated for urban renewal. A particular hardship of Urban Renewal was that it strengthened segregation. African Americans were forced out of the renewal areas, but only were able to move to other ghetto areas.
OK, so I'll sharpen my hook here. WTAE publishes a story this morning entitled Businesses Around Pens' Arena Site Excited. The article finds that Paul Newmaster, general manager of Marriott City Center, is excited that the Pens are staying in town. However, Evan Frazier, President of Hill House Association states that, "The community needs to be engaged as talks continue about development of the lower Hill". Very right, Mr. Frazier. Hill District residents were not invited to participate in the 'development' of The 'Civic' Arena the first time around.
Do we have a city leader who embraces community and grassroots organizations and both understands and emphasizes Pittsburgh history? Well, it seems as though suspicions of Luke's lack of leadership on the Pens issue, and always include symbolic leadership under this category, were vindicated today in a PG editorial. Credit apparantly goes to Ed Rendell, who led the delegation of public officials crafting the deal, according to the editorial. And what was Luke's role in the negotiations? Oh, just like his leadership in saving public transit, it's obviously to smile pretty and "move Pittsburgh fahrd".
UPDATE: Gee, after I wrote and posted this morning I find Ann Belser publishing, "Onorato talks with Hill residents about arena" in the PG around midday. Now tell me, case in point, who's the Boss? Why isn't Luke talking with Hill residents about the arena?
WTAE published an updated story this afternoon reporting that Onorato said he "wants the Hill District's community leaders to have early input and involvement during that approval process, so that there's consensus on any plan." Great Dan but I ask again, WHERE'S LUKE???
Tribune-Review Columnist Eric Heyl answered my question on what Luke's role was in negotiating the deal. He writes, "I heard he brought the Cheetos and dip to last week's pivotal negotiating session."