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Emergency demolition approved

| Saturday, May 4, 2013, 12:56 a.m.
Jennifer R. Vertullo | Daily News
Twin Rivers Council of Governments executive director John Palyo talks with Glassport council president Terry DiMarco and borough manager John DeSue about the specifications that are being prepared for the emergency demolition of a three-story building at 508 Monongahela Ave.

Glassport has secured emergency demolition funds to remove a blighted, hazardous building from its business district.

With a $34,000 grant, facilitated by Twin Rivers Council of Governments through Allegheny County Department of Economic Development's emergency demolition reserve in the Community Development Block Grant program, the borough is ready to remove the three-story brick building at 508 Monongahela Ave.

“Probably 10 years ago, we started on this building,” council president Terry DiMarco said. “There was an owner then who we tried to get to fix it, and that didn't happen.”

Since then, owners have died and borough goals for the building shifted from repair to demolition. The roof has collapsed into the second and first floors. Windows are broken, allowing the elements to do further damage. Reports from the borough's code enforcement officer indicate the exterior walls are unsound because of cracking and deterioration.

“The bricks are buckling,” DiMarco said. “The porch fell off the back four years ago, and the roof just caved in. One way or another, we have to get it down.”

Because municipal budgets have little room for adjustment, Glassport officials contacted Twin Rivers COG executive director John Palyo for assistance in applying for emergency funds.

“These funds are designed to help mitigate emergencies that pop up throughout the course of any given year outside of a normal grant funding cycle,” Palyo said. “We knew there was a history with the building ... Borough officials monitored the situation and informed us of a condition that got worse.”

Because a neighboring business uses the lot that separates it from the dilapidated structure for parking and sidewalks around the building are heavily traveled, the structure qualified as an immediate hazard, Palyo said.

John J. Exler Jr., deputy director of the Allegheny County Department of Economic Development, wrote to Palyo in April after reviewing the application, a structural report and a borough ordinance declaring an emergency on the property. The letter indicates the county will pay 97 percent of the project's estimated cost and the remaining balance will be paid by the borough.

Because the project is an emergency, Glassport is permitted to skip the advertising portion of the bidding process, but the borough must solicit bid letters that comply with fair hiring practices.

Glassport officials said the emergency project will be the first step in a major demolition effort across the borough.

“We feel demolition is the next step this town has to take toward revitalization,” borough manager John DeSue said. “We've paved roads. We've improved our borough property. We've improved our sewage plant. This was the next logical step.”

Glassport secured $26,000 in CDBG (Year 39) funding to demolish 401 Erie Ave., 532 Ohio Ave., 707 Peach Way, 710 Sixth St., 625 Summit Ave. and 681 Eighth St.

These properties, which are tax delinquent, have been through the legal condemnation process and were selected because the owners could not be located. The borough also hopes to secure money from the state Community Infrastructure and Tourism Fund to demolish 24 similar homes.

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