Field in Pittsburgh's Riverview Park causing conundrum

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In the weeks before Mayor Luke Ravenstahl left office, city workers were putting the final touches on a brand new soccer field in Riverview Park on the North Side, a $2.3 million project that transformed a former dump into a state-of-the-art facility that included artificial turf and a specially surfaced running track.

But one of those final touches is raising questions in some circles: a plaque that was ordered by former operations director Duane Ashley that reads "Ravenstahl Field" for the former mayor who left office at the start of this year.

The plaque, which hasn't been unveiled yet because weather problems delayed a ribbon-cutting ceremony, underscores how vague the city's laws are when it comes to the procedure for naming facilities. Councilman Corey O'Connor, chairman of the urban recreation committee, said the naming procedure is convoluted and unclear but believes that naming of the soccer field should go before council.

Mr. Ashley said in an email that Mr. Ravenstahl was "most deserving of this honor."

"He championed the construction of this field, even though most thought that it could not occur on this site," he said.

Mr. Ashely said he would pay for the sign, which cost $2,096, including $967 to rush the order.

It likely won't be installed unless there's clarification that the name change has gone through the proper procedures. said Sonya Toler, spokeswoman for new Mayor Bill Peduto. "Only signage that has been approved under city law will be installed."

City code establishes a Committee on Naming Public Property that is supposed to generate recommendations for naming or re-naming public facilities, but it doesn't specify when the committee has to be used.

Complicating matters, no one has been appointed to the committee.

Mr. Ashley said that while facilities are typically re-named through council votes, "there's no clear-cut policy for naming" new facilities. He acknowledges now that he may have "put the cart before the horse."

He emphasized that Mr. Ravenstahl had no knowledge that he ordered the plaque.

The 20-by-18-inch plaque was ordered from a company in Port St. Lucie, Fla.It was paid for from a special parks account for last-minute expenses, but Mr. Ashley said he's asked the city to invoice him so he can pay for the plaque.

Moriah Balingit:, 412-263-2533 or on Twitter @MoriahBee.

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