Pittsburgh councilwoman wants to fix Mt. Washington sign
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A Pittsburgh councilwoman is launching an effort to refurbish the rusted "Pittsburgh" sign on the face of Mount Washington.
Theresa Kail-Smith will host a private meeting Monday to discuss options for improving the iconic sign, which has drawn complaints about its deterioration for several years. Ms. Smith said she hopes the discussion will build consensus on how to improve the sign. So far there has been a stalemate between those who want to replace it using modern light-emitting diode technology and those who want to preserve the neon tubing.
"I don't have a preference," Ms. Smith said. "I just want something done for the residents of Mount Washington and Duquesne Heights who have to look at this every day."
Joanna Doven, spokeswoman for Mayor Luke Ravenstahl, said the administration will send top officials from the law and planning departments to the meeting.
While Mr. Ravenstahl supports an upgrade, "the ball is in council's court," she said, noting that a zoning amendment intended to allow improvements to the sign was removed from legislation by council in December.
Jim Vlasach, real estate manager for Lamar Advertising, which owns the sign, will attend. The company has solicited quotes from contractors for modernizing the sign. "It's antiquated and does not work any longer," he said. "We're looking to council for clear direction."
Bayer Corp., whose logo appears on the sign, also will send representation. The company said recently that it would consider pulling its name off of the sign if it isn't upgraded.
"We're looking forward to the discussion," spokeswoman Katie Kirkpatrick said. "In its current state the sign's appearance is unacceptable. It doesn't represent an image that Bayer wants to promote in the region."
The sign, which is 226 feet wide and 30 feet high, has been around for more than 75 years, with several different advertisers. The name and logo of Bayer, the German-based plastics, chemicals and drug maker that has its U.S. headquarters in Robinson, has appeared on it since April 3, 1995. At night, one-third of the time it shows the Bayer logo and the time of day; one-third is science quiz questions; and one-third is ads for events being staged by nonprofits.
By day, the sign formerly was a gray-and-white mosaic of the city's name, but a coating of rust has rendered it unreadable.
Also expected to attend Monday's meeting are council President Darlene Harris and member R. Daniel Lavelle, who represent the North Side.
First Published June 16, 2012 12:00 am