Redwood: Penguins renege on Hill art project

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As part of its original master plan for the CONSOL Energy Center, the property was to include a ‘Garden Passage” with a water feature between the center and Epiphany Church.

curtaincall
CURTAIN CALL—An art piece comprised of digitized historic Hill District photos on glass tubes is part of a garden the Penguins promised in 2010.

Artist Walter Hood’s “Curtain Call” design, which won the competitive bid for the project, was also to include digitized historic Hill District photographs scanned onto glass tubes along the path from Centre Avenue to Fifth Avenue.

But when the arena was completed in 2010, the Pittsburgh Penguins said they did not have the $1.5 million required for the project. Yet this year, they erected a statue of Mario Lemieux in the same spot.

Hill Consensus Group Director Carl Redwood said it is another example of the Hill District being shafted, and he’s calling on them to make good.

“They chose not to do it. They refuse, again, to pay for what they promise. That statue is an insult,” said Redwood.

Redwood noted that the CONSOL center was granted a LEED environmental certification in pare because of how the garden feature would channel rainwater from the property.

“The public art piece was part of getting political and community support for the arena, and it was all a scam,” said Redwood. “The Sports and Exhibition Authority needs to stand up. The penguins claim there is no money, but they are about to get all the net revenue plus 65 percent of the tax generated by 300 new parking spaces at the Civic Arena site.”

Pittsburgh Councilman R. Daniel Lavelle has introduced legislation, calling for the city’s 35 percent of parking tax revenue to be used for Hill District development projects, but Redwood said the art project should be funded by the Penguins as promised.

Neither Penguins President David Morehouse nor Sports and Exhibition Authority Executive Director Mary Conturo returned calls for comment by New Pittsburgh Courier deadline.

The project is still listed on the SEA website under public art with a completion date of 2010.  Redwood said he plans to bring the issue to the SEA board at its scheduled June 14 meeting.

(Send comments to cmorrow@newpittsburghcourier.com.)

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