Hill District group threatens to appeal arena master plan
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The push for arena-related benefits for the Hill District could come to a head today, as negotiators sit down for talks and neighborhood leaders likely appeal a key approval.
Today is the deadline for challenging the city planning commission's approval of the arena master plan, and the One Hill Community Benefits Agreement Coalition has scheduled a 1:30 p.m. news conference at the City-County Building. That's where they would file an appeal to Common Pleas Court.
So will they appeal?
"We're keeping all our options open," said One Hill spokeswoman Jennifer England. "Nothing's been taken off the table."
City and county officials said they were surprised to learn of the news conference, because they are trying to continue talks toward a benefits agreement.
City Chief of Staff Yarone Zober, Allegheny County Chief of Staff Shawn Fox, Sports & Exhibition Authority Executive Director Mary Conturo and possibly a representative of the Penguins are set to meet with some One Hill leaders this afternoon.
Hill leaders argue that since the neighborhood will site of the $290 million replacement for Mellon Arena, it should get development funding, an inside track on jobs, a grocery store and community center, more park space and input into a redevelopment plan.
Progress has been modest since Jan. 14, when Mayor Luke Ravenstahl said the parties were 90 percent in agreement and One Hill opted not to vigorously oppose that day's planning commission vote approving the master plan.
Thorny issues at the negotiating table include demands for neighborhood-controlled development funding and unionization neutrality agreements for Penguins-controlled developments adjacent to the arena.
City Council has scheduled a public hearing on the arena benefits issue for 1:30 p.m. March 5 in Council Chamber.
First Published February 13, 2008 12:00 am