Nancy Davis Pryce-Rhoades
224 Maple Avenue
20 November 1995
Herman C. Shipman
Federal Transit Administration, Region 3
1760 Market Street, Suite 500
Dear Mr. Shipman,
The Port Authority of Allegheny County has been criticized for their proposal of an extension of the Martin Luther King Busway through the Borough of Edgewood. It is only fair to say that the agency is doing what it thinks to be in the public interest. However, a broad cross-section of the citizenry of Edgewood (as reflected in the most recent election results) has seen and insisted to the officials of this agency that such a proposal is environmentally and aesthetically unacceptable.
We are all collectively responsible for encouraging, allowing and participating in an ever accumulating burden of abuse of our environment. What is proposed for Edgewood is such an abuse and is but a microcosm of the world about us. Since its formation in February of 1940, the Edgewood Garden Club has worked toward objectives which benefit not only its individual members but the community in which most of them reside, Edgewood Borough. It would therefore seem appropriate at this point to highlight two of the objectives of the Edgewood Garden Club which have bearing on the proposed busway extension through Edgewood: one, to aid in the conservation of native plants, trees and birds; and two, to inform members and the community of environmental influences.
In 1963, upon the request of the Edgewood Borough Manager, the Garden Club of Edgewood formed a Borough Advisory Committee for the purpose of helping to improve park areas. In the early part of 1962, this committee secured a plan for the landscape development of Edgewood Memorial Park, a grassy shaded area occupying an absolutely unique position in the heart of the community. The Garden Club sought and received financial support from the Edgewood Borough Council and the civic bodies of Edgewood: the Edgewood Civic Club, the Edgewood Cot Club, the Edgewood Historical Society and the Women I s Club. The purpose of the landscape project was to enhance the setting for the monuments erected previously by the Civic Club and to the trees planted as living memorials, all dedicated to the sons of Edgewood families killed during World War I and World War II. The extension of the Martin Luther King busway through Edgewood and the resulting impact on Memorial Park would serve to effectively nullify the efforts of these and the many other women of this Borough who have worked for over half a century to create and maintain the Edgewood Memorial Park.
Bit by bit, one good reason following another, it would seem that we are destroying our natural and historical heritage, our" web of life". The Edge of the Woods, which gave our town its name, has been intruded upon and compromised by previous town and regional growth. An office and retail complex grows steadily on one edge, the loom of its activity and light enveloping a large section of our residential area. It is difficult to be critical. Many of us have had need for its resources and are grateful for it. It is a source of Borough revenue. Where Gordon's Ravine once formed the nucleus for an eleven acre bird sanctuary, our community is now bisected by the Penn Lincoln Parkway where thousands of cars travel up and down every day. The need for improved transportation, real estate development and the interests of enterprise have created them.
Although simple observation has consistently taught otherwise, we often act in the belief that if people work hard, nature's boundless and infinite resources will provide unconstrained space and wealth for all. The often highly moralistic arguments of those in favor of the busway illustrate this misconception. These are clearly concerned citizens and good people, yet their "good" values blind them from seeing this busway as no more than a path of creeping (now leaping) environmental destruction. None of us has avoided this blindness, as we each have contributed to environmental decline for our own compelling reasons of wealth, home, safety, health;
each with similar "good intent".
However, the sum of what may be done to our town will be environmental and aesthetic disaster. If we show poor vision and little balance or forbearance as we meet our immediate needs, our children may never know the silence of the park created for "the generations of families to come" more than half a century ago. They may hear few birds. They may be shaded by fewer trees. There may remain at Edgewood Memorial Park only the sight, sounds and smells of a concrete barrier wall and the busway's diesel discharge rushing on as testament to "progress".
Nancy Davis Pryce-Rhoades