There’s a raptor bike ride on the Mon this weekend, I’m fascinated with raptors, eagles, peregrine falcons, hawks, etc.  It’s a 16 mile trek from Hays to McKeesport on the Allegheny Passage from 9 am until 2.  It’s a self guided tour, they will have experts at key locations to aid you in seeing the nesting raptors, you are encouraged to bring your own binoculars so you can see a lot that isn’t highlighted.  It’s a fund raiser for Steel Valley Trail Council who maintains that section of the trail.  Cost is $30 for couples that are members and $40 for those not members.  Individuals are $20 for members and $25 for non members.  More info and registration are on their website.

First Energy spun off their electric generation operations from the main company.  They are trying to sell off the unprofitable coal and nuclear plants.  They have been lobbying and whining for months that they need tax payer subsidies, so they can reach their corporate profit goals.  Personally I would be happy to see all nuclear power plants closed.  Mainly because the radioactive waste lasts longer than humans have been on earth and secondly because our dysfunctional government can’t come up with a proper disposal plan.  They are currently storing spend rods on site in inadequate containment areas.  I acknowledge that nuclear power plants do not emit carbon dioxide, but considering the leathality (my word) of the waste, I still think they need to go away.  I’m also against coal produced power plants.  They are so busy spending the cash they have on had buying other coal facilities instead of spending money (current profits) on R & D and figured out how to sequester the pollution or figure a way to clean it before it leaves the smoke stacks.  I don’t blame the coal companies anymore than the rest of corporate America for not investing the huge profits they are raking in for R & D to come up with solutions.  They just keep buying their competitors.  This is similar to the evil empire Buncher group that tried to rail road the city into letting them knock down a 1/3 of the iconic Terminal Building so they could have easy access the red light on Penn & 17th Street.  Have you seen the huge shoe box Buncher built behind the Terminal Building?  They first put up this huge parking garage and then build their apartments on all four sides.  I’m not an architect, but it’s possibly the most boring building I’ve ever seen, it has no visual appeal, it  is just this huge square box with some trim added to it.  They needed to build that density to reach their “corporate profit goals”.    It’s like the development on North Avenue Q development is doing.    They want a variance to the height restrictions there, it’s the only way they could “make the numbers work”.  They came in knowing full well what the density was zoned for in the area.  Also the want a lot of other variances to what the city and residents set years before like parking, set backs and mostly they want to tear down the three last buildings so they could create the density they need for their “numbers to work”.  I’m OK with variances, but within reason.  I’m tired of subsidizing the Steelers, Penguins and Pirates  so they can make their “numbers work”.  I have to have a parking spot for each guest room I have, the sports teams don’t have to do the same, so overflow parking is pushed into the adjacent neighborhoods.  The thing that sticks in my craw is the Pirates to get their subsidies had to go before the voters and it was rejected!  The city then worked around the vote to give what the Pirates wanted.  I wasn’t living here at the time and don’t know the details.  All three sports teams bring in a ton of visitor spending (I admit, the Steelers are huge for my business, but that’s beside the point in my opinion.  The rules are the rules).

I can’t leave my whining without complaining about the Airport Authorities latest boondoggle, a $1.2B (yes Billion) renovation.  The landside terminal is going away as are the trains.  Everything is going into the airside terminal.  They are also removing many of the unused gates.  I’m pretty much OK with a fairly major renovation of the airport, but $1.2B?  The “new” airport was construction in 1972 for $33M, it’s forty years old and we are spending this money?  Generally speaking I think Christina Cassotis is doing a pretty good job, although we seem to be taking it in the shorts by the agreement she signed with the Qatar freight airline.

Enough of my ranting today, lets move back to the North Avenue, Garden Theater development.  I haven’t heard exactly what will be moving into to the old Garden Theater, but they are now doing major work and you can finally see where they are making progress for whatever they are putting in there.

Also on the Northside, the National Aviary is doing a $1.2M improvement.  They are replacing 3,146 panes of glass with bird friendly glass both inside and out and the glass is specially designed to let the bird friendly UV rays in.  (the glass is even designed so predator birds on the outside do not see the inside birds.  The glass is being manufactured by Vitro Architectural Glass a Mexican company the purchase PPG glass 18 months ago.  Much of the work is in the Tropical Rain Forest Room, the oldest area in the Aviary.  They are making it more bird friendly with waterfalls, trees and other bird amenities. They just started the Rain Forest work and expect to be completed by July.  The Rain Forest is closed and they moved some of the more popular birds into Canary Call exhibit.

In 2015, the historic Century Inn in Scenery Hill, PA (near little Washington PA) was basically burnt to the ground.  This devastating fire left only the stone exterior walls standing.  The owner and her son barely got out in time and was only able to save the last remaining flag from the Whiskey Rebellion.  All the antiques, historic pictures and other mementos were lost. I remember being in it when I was in high school with my father on one of his auction trips.  Megin Harrington was (and is) the owner.  At the time, she swore she would rebuild it, true to what it was and she’s accomplished this, it just reopened.  Good job Megin!

That’s it for today, enjoy this spring weather,