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Street name changes planned to honor former McKeesport mayors

| Wednesday, March 6, 2013, 4:28 a.m.

McKeesport plans to honor two former mayors by naming streets after them.

On council's agenda for Wednesday's meeting is the renaming of Marshall Drive Extension to Lou Washowich Way and Water Street to Joe Bendel Way.

Washowich served as mayor from January 1980 through Jan. 3, 1995. Bendel's term extended from January 1995 through Jan. 3, 2000.

“Both were a critical part of these streets and their development,” Mayor Michael Cherepko said during Tuesday's caucus. “Some may not know that Mayor Lou Washowich was instrumental in bringing Tom Clark Chevrolet to McKeesport from Versailles in the very early stages, and later in his time as mayor he began the idea of Marshall Drive Extension, which was completed under Mayor James Brewster's term.”

Cherepko said Washowich and Bendel were able to draw thriving business and recreation points to McKeesport even in tough economic times.

“It's no secret what Mayor Joe Bendel's vision was for the marina,” Cherepko said of the Marina at McKees Point. “Some questioned it back then, but what you see now is another destination point for the city of McKeesport.”

With 200 boat docks, the marina is filled to capacity with a waiting list of others who are interested.

The mayor said the marina is a “remarkable place” and an asset to McKeesport because it brings people in from out of town.

Council president Darryl Segina, while stating he does not oppose honoring Washowich or the late Bendel, said he would have liked the street renaming ordinances to have been presented differently.

Segina read a memorandum from solicitor J. Jason Elash requiring the legislation to be placed on council's March agenda.

“At first when I talked to Mayor Cherepko, I wanted it removed from the agenda,” he said. “I agree with you, and I respect (the ordinances) ... but all bills should go through the president of council.”

Segina said he had other ideas on how to honor the former mayors, but declined to share them during Tuesday's public caucus. Citing a communication breakdown, he said council should have had input into how to recognize them.

“I think we should all go as a body in agreement as to what should be done,” he said. “We all have different ideas, and I'm not opposing anything being named for them. I would have liked to have some input into what was being named.”

Councilman A.J. Tedesco suggested that both ordinances be sponsored by council as a whole, rather than the minimum one member that city meeting procedures require.

“I don't know what the mayor's impetus was in putting (the ordinances) on here without consulting us, but we aren't here to disagree with it,” Tedesco said.

Cherepko apologized for moving ahead without discussing options with council, but said the ordinances were well thought out to find fitting locations that would pay tribute to the mayors.

“I'd been on council for eight or 10 years, and no one has ever talked about honoring them,” he said. “I felt that they deserve it, and these things directly reflect what they represented.”

Jennifer R. Vertullo is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 412-664-9161, ext. 1956, or jvertullo@tribweb.com.

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