Ice block: The city needs to work on frozen Market Square

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Market Square is the historic heart of Pittsburgh, the space where the city congregates, celebrates and puts on its best face. But that face has been ugly with a thick overcoat of snow and ice lately and it makes no sense.

As the Post-Gazette’s Mark Belko and Jon Schmitz reported Wednesday, the frozen layer lent the square a Siberian wilderness appearance in recent days. That’s not the look the city was contemplating when it spent $5 million to renovate the square in 2010.

A hazardous icy wasteland is also not what the hundreds of pedestrians who walk through the square should expect either. Nor is it helpful to the businesses that line the square and provide its vitality.

A spokeswoman for the mayor said the city is obligated to clear only two paths in the square that it owns — one going north-south and one going east-west, in a sort of pedestrian plus sign. Even if that had been done (and it wasn’t), the plus would still be a negative. It isn’t good enough.

The city should do more and not rely entirely on the Pittsburgh Downtown Partnership, which has a role in overseeing the square. As one merchant pointedly noted, businesses are obligated to clean sidewalks in front of their properties.

Fortunately, the problem is going to end shortly. The PDP will remove snow and ice for a Market Square Public Art video and sound installation show to run from Feb. 21 to March 16. Going forward for the city, let there be light — and no unshoveled snow.

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