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Mayor Peduto Sets Sights On Development In 2020

Megan Harris
90.5 WESA
Mayor Bill Peduto in his office Downtown Monday Jan. 6, 2020.


On today's program: Mayor Bill Peduto on the year ahead and a new City Council; an effort to help gun owners surrender their weapons in times of crisis; local television stations reach a deal with cable providers; American Chestnut trees could make a comeback; and how to recycle your Christmas tree. 

"Not your grandfather's Strip District"
(oo:oo — 9:18)

As Bill Peduto begins his seventh year as mayor of Pittsburgh, much of his focus in 2020 will be on major developments in the Strip District, Larimer and East Liberty, he says, and he'll have a new point person to oversee those projects.

Marty LaMar, regional vice president for the development firm McCormack Baron Salazar, will fill the administration’s new position of Economic Development Officer. 

“We’ve been working through committee, project by project to make sure our economic development strategy carries out.” Peduto says what he needed was one person pulling together those major initiatives.

Work has already begun in the Strip, where a $400 million residential complex is underway and work continues on a $62 million redevelopment of the Produce Terminal into a mixed-use complex.

“We have to recognize that it’s not 1974 anymore. We can keep the heart of Penn Avenue the same way it was back then,” Peduto says.  "But what we’re not going to see is a complimentary development.”

Newly-elected Council president Theresa Kail-Smith will be working with the mayor on issues like development in the coming year. “We work well together,” Peduto says of Kail-Smith. “Whenever we’ve had differences, they’ve always been professional, never personal.”

Firearms safety instructors have a plan to prevent suicides
(10:31 — 17:51) 

Firearms are used in half of all suicides in the U.S. — and for some people, that alone is a reason not to own guns or keep them in the home. At the same time, about 43 percent of Americans report living in a household with a gun.

WITF's Brett Sholtis reports, that’s why two safety instructors have come up with a plan to prevent firearms deaths by giving gun owners a chance to turn in their weapons during a crisis.

Cable networks settle their differences
(17:53 — 23:50) 

WPXI and WTAE reached agreements this weekend with the cable and satellite networks that distribute their programming. The settlement followed a brief disruption for viewers, but WESA’s Terry O’Reilly says it’s just a new iteration of an old problem—and it’s likely to happen again.

O’Reilly has spent most of his 30-year career working in broadcast television. Locally, he’s the CEO of WESA’s parent company, Pittsburgh Community Broadcasting Corporation, and also serves as the chairman of the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences, which presents the Emmy Awards.


Credit Megan Harris / 90.5 WESA
90.5 WESA
The City of Pittsburgh's Public Works Department is encouraging city residents to drop off their Christmas trees for recycling instead of abandoning them along curbsides.

Rejuvenating the source of a holiday relic
(23:53 — 32:02) 

Though often cited in holiday music, the fruit of an American chestnut tree has been functionally extinct for generations.

Francesca Dabecco, a Pittsburgh-based writer reporting for Heated magazine, shares how a group of researchers hope to breed greater resistance into future hybrids and someday restore the species to its former grandeur.

O Christmas tree, how recyclable are thy branches?
(32:04 — 38:42) 

Procrastinators still have time to recycle this year’s Christmas trees in Pittsburgh.

Teresa Bradley, the recycling supervisor for the city’s Department of Public Works, says the Christmas tree recycling program has expanded its number of drop off locations with some sites accepting tenenbaums through January 26.

Bradley says the city collected more than 21 tons of Christmas trees in 2019 that were made into mulch for city parks. Find more information about drop off points here.

90.5 WESA’s Caldwell Holden and Caroline Bourque contributed to this program.

The Confluence, where the news comes together, is 90.5 WESA’s daily news program. Tune in weekdays at 9 a.m. to hear newsmakers and innovators take an in-depth look at stories important to the Pittsburgh region. Find more episodes of The Confluence here or wherever you get your podcasts.

Kiley Koscinski is a general assignment reporter for 90.5 WESA. She previously produced The Confluence and Morning Edition. Before coming to WESA, she worked as an assignment desk editor and producer at 1020 AM KDKA. She can be reached at
Kevin Gavin is the host of WESA's news interview program "The Confluence." He is a native Pittsburgher and served as news director for 90.5 WDUQ for 34 years. Since the sale of the radio station by Duquesne University to Pittsburgh EPM, Inc. (now Pittsburgh Community Broadcasting Corp.), he served as Executive Producer of Special News Projects prior to being named as host of "The Confluence" five years ago.
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