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Pittsburgh City Council pulls plug on funding to start turf management program in Homewood

PITTSBURGH — The Pittsburgh City Council unanimously voted Wednesday morning to pull funding for a turf management training program and restart the entire process because of questions and concerns about the no-bid contract.

After initially approving a $300,000 no-bid contract with Homewood Community Sports this past summer to launch the training program in Homewood, councilmembers agreed to put the brakes on the plan after questions surfaced.

“Yes it was done right, no it wasn’t done right. So I don’t want any question about it. I want to make sure we are doing it absolutely 100% right,” said Council President Theresa Kail-Smith during the city council meeting.

Kail-Smith introduced the resolution to repeal the contract.

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The turf management training program coincides with $15 million in planned renovations to the Homewood Community Sports field.

In addition to improvements to the swimming pool, field house, lighting and bleachers, the plan is to install world-class turf on the football field and use the $300,000 to launch a job training program to teach kids how to grow and maintain it.

“This is a sad day for the community of Homewood. This was a commitment to them and those kids,” said Maria Montano, Mayor Ed Gainey’s Communications Director.

Montano said there are no issues with the contract and everything was done legally.

“So, we openly went through this process in front of council before. We presented them the information that included, support from the Solicitor’s Office about the legal justifications for this specific contract,” Montano said.

But in light of Allegheny County District Attorney Steve Zappala’s ongoing probe into the Gainey Administration’s $180,000 no-bid police staffing study contract, the council president isn’t taking any chance.

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“I’m certain they’ll probably be selected again but it’s just making sure there’s a legal process in place that we feel comfortable, most comfortable with,” Kail-Smith said.

Now that the no-bid contract has been repealed, Pittsburgh City Council plans to work with the administration to put out a request for proposals.

Kail-Smith added that she wants to make sure everything is done by the book.

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