PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — What was once an iconic symbol of Pittsburgh has become an old, rusty hulk and has sparked a battle between the city and the sign’s owner, Lamar Advertising.
Pittsburgh Mayor Bill Peduto recently issued this stern warning: “You either clean it, you remove it, or you sell it, or we’re going to start citing you.”
Trying to lower the temperature in the dispute, City Councilwoman Theresa Kail-Smith is calling both sides to the table to iron out their differences and find a solution.
“I think right now, step back, sit down, and calmly work through the concerns, because right now it’s a very heated conversation,” said Kail-Smith. “It would be nice to see a private company step agree that this is something that’s worthwhile and work towards a solution with the administration.”
As KDKA reported, Giant Eagle wanted to enter into an agreement with Lamar to restore and use the sign, but the Peduto administration balked at issuing a permit for fear that it would be used for advertising.
“We want to see that billboard used as it’s been used since 1923, under the understanding and grandfathering in of what everyone else has been able to do, having a corporate entity’s name on it, but not turning it on to a billboard to tell you how much a gallon of milk costs,” said Peduto.
Neither Giant Eagle nor Lamar is commenting, but Kail-Smith agreed that a company should be limited to displaying its logo in addition to the time, temperature and community messaging.
To that end, she believes both Lamar and the city should approach the city’s professional sports teams to see if they would be interested.
“I wouldn’t mind seeing the City of Pittsburgh in lights; you know, the name ‘Pittsburgh,’ maybe with some sports logos underneath,” said Kail-Smith.
Before that meeting on June 11, Kail-Smith is asking the community for more ideas and suggestions to turn the sign from an eyesore to an asset.