Allegheny County councilman Robinson proposes Wilson Center rescue

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Allegheny County Councilman Bill Robinson, D-Hill District, is calling for the city and county to use $10 million to $15 million in capital funds to bail out the struggling August Wilson Center for African American Culture.

Mr. Robinson wants to use the money to pay off the center’s $7 million mortgage and other outstanding bills in an effort to get the facility, which is facing liquidation, back on its feet.

The councilman was rebuffed late last year, when he tried to get a $500,000 county capital grant for the center, and it looks like his latest proposal will suffer the same fate. County Executive Rich Fitzgerald stressed Thursday that he won’t support the plan, saying it is an inappropriate use of capital funds.

“I guess that’s in the category of the school district trying to take it over. I don’t know where they have the money, either,” he said.

Mr. Fitzgerald and city Mayor Bill Peduto have been working with local foundations and other stakeholders to try to craft a plan to save the center. Mr. Robinson said the city and the county could take capital money budgeted for projects that haven’t been started and use it for the center and then replenish the money the next time they float bonds for capital improvements.

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