Hays Mansion's fate still in limbo
Munhall council told the Hays family on Wednesday night it must place $26,000-$30,000 in escrow before council would rescind the current condemnation order on the Hays Mansion, located off Whitaker Way.
“If we would decide to take this building off the demolition list this year, that means we would probably lose our block grant money to tear this down,” council president Joe Ballas said.
He said if the Hays family's efforts fizzle out or they don't have enough money to restore the mansion, council would use the escrow money to demolish the home. Ballas said a housing development is at a standstill because people are not willing to buy property because of the state of the mansion.
The $26,000 includes the Community Development Block Grant funds and cost of paperwork.
“We can lose the money and all we want is to protect the taxpayers of the borough,” Councilman Dan Lloyd said.
Hays relative Jim Deibel said the family already must pay $30,000 in back taxes to purchase the mansion.
Munhall Solicitor Greg Evashavik said a performance bond is an option that would cost the Hays family less.
“It would guarantee if you don't complete the project, that bond amount would be available for this borough,” he said. “I don't know if you can get it under these circumstances.”
Hays family members were hoping enough work had been done to the mansion in recent months so that council would lift the condemnation and take it off the demolition list for later this year.
“We've made progress toward resolving all of the issues that made you condemn the house in the first place,” attorney Angelo Quaranta said.
He said the family's foundation has the mansion under a purchase agreement with the mansion's owner, Riverbend LLC founder Mark Draper of Rockville, Md. Quaranta said another arrangement would enable the family's foundation to obtain 17½ acres on the hillside adjacent to the Hays Mansion from U.S. Steel.
Deibel said the mansion could be used as a bed and breakfast or arboretum.
He said the condemnation order limits the Hays family members and others willing to donate to restore the mansion. Deibel said he's not sure the family can come up with the money to put in escrow.
Councilman Bernie Shields said there are no guarantees contributions will be made if the order is lifted.
Attorney Greg Barnes represented Steve Chupinka, owner of the housing development near the Hays Mansion.
“For years, this has affected development badly,” he said. “What they're presenting is a great idea. It's full of uncertainties though.”
Borough manager Matt Galla estimated that August would be the latest council could wait to lift the condemnation and take the mansion off the demolition list, but said he will verify that with Steel Valley Council of Governments.
Preservation Pennsylvania technical field services representative Erin Hammerstedt and local developer Margaret Burrows pledged their help to the Hays family to consider a performance bond or escrow the money.
The Hays Mansion dates back to 1832 and its basement was a safe haven for slaves along the Underground Railroad.
Stacy Lee is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 412-664-9161 ext. 1970, or email@example.com.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com 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.
- Homestead-Duquesne Road closure postponed
- Ankle replacement makes UPMC McKeesport history
- Mon Yough school districts, nonprofits getting by for now with no state budget
- Elizabeth Township to pay for road paving study
- Golf outing wraps up successful Invitational
- New traffic lights to be installed near McKeesport’s Jerome Bridge
- Elizabeth Forward board OKs cost to move trailer
- Student ‘geek squad’ to help train Steel Valley classmates on iPads
- Charges held against suspect in McKeesport market robbery, assault
- Lincoln council OKs chicken coop ordinance
- 4-D Theater debuts at Kennywood