ShareThis Page

Elizabeth Township commissioners approve sale of Swiss Alpine Village

| Tuesday, March 26, 2013, 12:56 a.m.

Elizabeth Township commissioners have approved the sale of Swiss Alpine Village.

At a special meeting on Monday, commissioners approved the sale to township residents Dan and Robin Poirier, who submitted a $350,000 bid on the commercial plaza along Route 48 in February.

Board of commissioners president Gene Francesconi and vice president Larry Vota voted against the measure, citing concerns that the township had lost too much money on the plaza over the years.

Commissioners Joanne Beckowitz, Claire Bryce, Donald Similo, Robert Thomas and Chris Evans voted in favor of the sale.

The township originally purchased the property in 2003 for $825,000 in an effort to stop its previous owner from locating an educational and residential center for non-violent juvenile offenders there. The sale succeeded in preventing the controversial center from moving in, but the Elizabeth Township Authority, which has overseen operations of the plaza since the transaction, has had trouble keeping all of the buildings rented.

Early in the meeting, Bryce said she thought the township should consider seeking counter bids on the property and asked if it could be “spruced up” to fetch a better selling price. She later voted with the majority to sell after a motion to table the measure that she introduced failed.

A township committee charged last fall with marketing the property was in favor of the sale to the Poiriers, who own other commercial property in the township. The committee reported last week that they pitched the property to dozens of real estate agents and most of them weren't interested. A total of five information packets about the property were sent to interested parties but only two of the recipients attended a mandatory tour of the plaza. The Poiriers were the only party to submit a proposal for the property.

Local real estate agent Robert Baum told commissioners on Monday that he believes the sale is a good idea. Baum told commissioners that keeping the property would be expensive because they would need to hire a manager for the plaza and invest a significant amount of money in the infrastructure. He also noted it might be a long time before the township receives another good offer on the property.

“This offer will stop the bleeding,” Baum said.

Dave Graham, president of Elizabeth Township Area EMS, which has its headquarters in the plaza, told commissioners that the cost of fixing the property, which he described as substandard, would be significant.

The Poiriers say they have high hopes for the plaza.

“It's going to be good for the township,” said Dan Poirier, who noted his goal is to get all vacant units rented as quickly as possible.

Robin Poirier said she hopes to obtain grants that will bring the Carnegie Library of McKeesport branch to the plaza. The branch is in Central Elementary School. But Elizabeth Forward School District officials have told library representatives that the branch will have to leave that location by the end of June.

Eric Slagle is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-664-9161, ext. 1966, or

TribLIVE commenting policy

You are solely responsible for your comments and by using you agree to our Terms of Service.

We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.

While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.

We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers

We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.

We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.

We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.

We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.