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Tourism fund helps Natrona, East Deer, Oakmont projects

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Monday, May 27, 2013, 12:01 a.m.

Three very different Alle-Kiski Valley projects will receive a total of $380,000 through the Allegheny County Redevelopment Authority.

They include:

• up to $100,000 to restore a “model worker family home” in Harrison's Natrona neighborhood;

• a pavement renovation project on Murrayhill Road in East Deer that will receive $200,000;

• and $80,000 to Oakmont for preparation work needed to install a dek hockey rink.

Bob Hurley, senior deputy director of the Allegheny County Economic Development Department, said the source of the money for all three projects is the Pennsylvania Infrastructure and Tourism Fund.

The applicants have to spend their own money up front and then are reimbursed with the grant money as the projects progress, Hurley said.

Hurley said if a problem arises that prevents a project from being completed as specified under a contract with the county, the community can ask to switch the money to another project. He said the county considers such requests, but if it feels a secondary project is not appropriate, it will reprogram the money for use in another community.

The Pittsburgh History and Landmarks Foundation made the application for the model worker-home restoration, according to Hurley. Natrona Comes Together, the grassroots neighborhood improvement group, has discussed restoring one of the rowhouses on Federal Street that Penn Salt Co. employees lived in, into a museum.

“What they (History and Landmarks) are trying to do, as they presented to us, is this is the standard row home that the company would have owned and leased back to the workers,” Hurley said. “They are looking to historically recreate this building with siding, doors and materials that would have matched that time period.”

In addition, he said the rowhouse would receive new electrical wiring, a kitchenette and handicapped-accessible restrooms.

Hurley said the money approved for Murrayhill Road, which runs between Freeport Road and Route 28 in East Deer and Frazer, is to correct a deteriorated road surface that has existed for years.

“What they are telling us they want to do right now is replace 3,700 yards of pavement,” Hurley said.

“We were very happy to hear about the award,” said Tony Taliani, East Deer Commissioners chairman. “The grant we got today is substantial, but I don't know if it will be enough to finish it. We're going to try to stretch this money as far as we can and do as much as possible.”

He said the work will remove and replace concrete sections of the road which, in East Deer, is a little more than a mile long. Taliani said township officials are hesitant to use asphalt because they fear it could create a hazardous condition because the road is steep.

Hurley said the grant application was made by the Allegheny Valley North Council of Governments, which will administer the project for East Deer.

The dek hockey rink in Oakmont is planned for Riverview Park.

The total cost of the project is about $220,000, with the Pittsburgh Penguins' foundation picking up much of the cost, according to Hurley and Oakmont Mayor Bob Fescemyer.

The Penguins have offered free dek hockey rinks to communities for kids, Hurley said. They require that the rink site be ready for construction.

In this case, Oakmont is moving an old baseball field and tearing out asphalt.

“They have to prepare the site with new asphalt — that's what the rink sits on — as I understand it.”

He said that work is what the $80,000 grant will help cover.

“We just couldn't afford to pass it up and let another community pick it up,” Fescemyer said. “I think we are going to do really well with it.”

Hurley said the parameters of each project must be laid out in detail in a contract with the county that the community or organization will sign.

He said all three projects should be under way this summer or by early fall.

Tom Yerace is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 724-226-4675 or

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