In addition, many of the North End youths who had raised their own money to build a boxing ring on the second floor on North Bennett St. were angry that the facility would not be opened to them for the summer.
Members of the community were agitated by Forgione's move. A group of North End youths, led by Charlie "Lefty" Longo, ex-boxer and now a columnist with the North End's Post-Gazette, protested on Monday, June 24, at the public baths and then went, accompanied by City Councillor Langone, to Commissioner Forgione's office in City Hall. Forgione, beginning under this pressure to understand the importance of the public baths to the community, then revised his decision and announced in an open letter in last Thursday's Post-Gazette that he would allow the bath and other facilities to remain open three days a week (Wednesday, Friday, and Saturday).
In the opinion of Phyllis Donnaruma, Post-Gazette publisher, "Anti-Mayor White" people in the North End were using the bath house issue and attacking Commissioner Forgione (White's appointee) in order to discredit the mayor. In fact, she says, everything has been greatly exaggerated. It appears that Forgione's announcement to close the showers was not intended to be disruptive; Forgione was simply unaware of the public baths' indispensability to North End residents. At any rate, everyone seems appeased by the compromise. The public baths will stay open half of the time, but the renovations will now take longer, almost certainly the entire summer, and customers at the North Bennett St. public baths will now have to contend with scaffolding and workmen's materials.
For the moment, then, at least, everyone has come out looking pretty clean.
, U.S. Coast Guard, Kate Smith, North End