PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — It’s illuminated the night sky for 75 years – most recently the beacon of the Bayer Corporation, but by day it’s deteriorating to the alarm of hilltop residents.
“They’re looking at a deteriorating sign,” City Councilwoman Theresa Smith, D-West End, said. “It’s the image that people see of Mt. Washington.”
Bayer would like to upgrade and modernize the sign most likely with LED technology instead of the current neon, but it’s prohibited from doing so by the city’s billboard ordinance and by opposition from Northsiders.
“I think people are not comfortable with a corporate television on the side of Mt. Washington,” Mark Fatla with the Northside Leadership Conference said.
Fatla says the neighborhood does not want to look at a large electronic billboard.
“You’re creating the capabilities for an ongoing advertising machine on the side of our iconic hillside,” he said.
In a statement Bayer said:
“In its current state, the sign’s appearance does not represent an image Bayer wants to promote in the region. Bayer has been in discussions… about updating its appearance and functionality. As a science- and technology-based company, we are committed to helping the city of Pittsburgh project its image as a technology and sustainability leader.”
Bayer has indicated that if it can’t modernize the sign, they’d rather have no sign at all and the Northsiders say so be it.
But Smith is holding a meeting of all parties next week to try to reach a compromise.
“I think that there’s a way to satisfy everyone in this,” she said. “I think that you can adjust wattage. you can do certain things with lighting.”
But whether a compromise can be reached is far from certain and right now the future of the iconic sign appears to be dim.