Are you reading, Mayor Murphy
Instead of focusing solely on Downtown, Rachel Rue of the RAND Corp. argues that city leaders and civic organizations should focus their redevelopment efforts on all of Pittsburgh's 91 neighborhoods. Those are what make Pittsburgh unique, Rue argues, not a big department store or a new stadium:
An alternative model of city planning and development would conceive of planning as taking place in and through the neighborhoods. Neighborhood development corporations, which already exist in many neighborhoods, would have a strong role in setting priorities and coordinating efforts within neighborhoods.
City planners would coordinate the collection of neighborhood plans, developing strategies to connect neighborhoods to each other and to the rivers, and thinking about how their different characters and assets complement each other. The Central Business District would be thought of as one of the neighborhoods -- centrally important and dominant, but still only one of 91.
This model has several advantages. Most notably, the residents and business owners in a neighborhood typically know better than anyone else what needs attention and what kinds of changes will benefit them. For example, if you don't live on the South Side Slopes, it is unlikely to have crossed your mind until recently that the many flights of sidewalk steps lacing the hills need maintenance at a minimum, and at best could be made into a positive attraction.
The sidewalk steps are relics of Pittsburgh's past. There are many others -- old buildings with the remnants of extraordinary architectural character under dilapidated surfaces. These buildings can often be restored with a relatively small investment of funds and a significant contribution of community energy and individual elbow grease.
Part of the problem is that there isn't as much apparent glory for politicians in repairing sidewalks and the facades of the small businesses that dot neighborhood business districts as there is in opening a big department store or stadium. And many of our political and corporate leaders will blanch at the phrase "relics of Pittsburgh's past." They are ashamed of the city's past, and think that is what holds her back. In fact, it is not the past that haunts us but the present--a present full of failed leadership and bankrupt ideas.