Glassport church demolition is on schedule
Demolition of the former St. Cecilia parish near the intersection of Eighth Street and Ohio Avenue in Glassport should be competed by the mid-March target date.
“It's going,” Senate Engineering Co. project manager Kenneth Hillman said Friday. “We're hoping the project will be done as soon as possible.”
He said it is about 35 percent complete.
Twin Rivers Council of Governments used Senate Engineering to create the project's specifications. Crews from A.W. McNabb LLC are performing the demolition.
“After this is completely removed, the slope of the ground will be at the same grade as Eighth (Street),” Hillman said. “There's a large retaining wall back there that's going to stay in place that will be filled up against. It was going to entail a lot greater cost if we were to remove that retaining wall. (The land) will be seeded with grass afterwards.”
Demolition of the more than century-old Catholic church/school stared on Jan. 29 with crews tearing down the front entrance of the building to prepare the way for larger equipment.
Twin Rivers COG accepted a $204,000 bid from the Burgettstown-based company to demolish the building in January 2012. The funding comes from a $215,000 Community Infrastructure and Tourism Fund grant through the Redevelopment Authority of Allegheny County. The price includes asbestos removal.
Glassport was approved for the grant in August 2011.
Council president Terry DiMarco said he applied for the grant years ago, but was denied. He said the project would not have moved forward without the help of state Sen. James Brewster, D-McKeesport.
“You can't come up with the money to do this as a community,” Brewster said. “You have to go out and get funds, and that's what (CTIF) money's for, to go into these communities and help them do things that they can't do on their own. It's a good way to reward the taxpayers with the gaming money. The folks in Glassport, as in any other community, deserve the opportunity to access that money.”
St. Cecilia was vacant for more than 15 years and was subject to vandalism and general deterioration.“It went from being a pillar of the community to being an eyesore,” Mayor Michael Evanovich said. “I think more people are happy that it's coming down. They don't have to ride by and see that the windows are all broken, cans and debris all over the place.”
“It's obviously very sad for people that were close to it,” Brewster said. “At the end of the day, it's an opportunity for the borough and borough officials to remediate the site and find an effective reuse for it, which will benefit the neighbors and the borough as a whole. Right now it's a safety hazard, and we have to consider that.
“I applaud them for making the effort. A lot of memories, but hopefully we can build on new memories.”
The Roman Catholic Diocese of Pittsburgh detrmined in the early 1990s that Glassport no longer could support two independent parishes.
So in 1994 the diocese merged St. Cecilia and Holy Cross parishes to form Queen of the Rosary parish. St. Cecilia closed and was sold to Glassport Heritage Society. Officials said the partners of the heritage society are deceased.
DiMarco and Evanovich said they would like to sell the property for future development, but it might be difficult because the borough does not own it.
“We have to stick within the confines of property laws,” Twin Rivers COG executive director John Palyo said. “If the potential for development occurs, then the borough can, in cooperation with the Redevelopment Authority of Allegheny County, through the court system take ownership of the property, and then use that toward redevelopment purposes. There's legal proceedings that need to occur. It is still something that can be done. It's just not immediate.”
On May 29, 1910, the cornerstone for the building was laid. Councilwoman Nancy Crncic said a Queen of the Rosary parishioner acquired the cornerstone for the parish.
Michael DiVittorio is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-664-9161, ext. 1965, or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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