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Renzie Park pavilion gets makeover ahead of Village crowds

| Friday, July 19, 2013, 4:06 a.m.
Jennifer R. Vertullo | Daily News
McKeesport Mayor Michael Cherepko and city administrator Matt Gergely talk with Jason DeMarco Painting crew members during a visit to the Blue Top Pavilion.
Jennifer R. Vertullo | Daily News
Jason DeMarco paints upper beams inside the Blue Top Pavilion at Renziehausen Park.

Blue Top Pavilion in Renziehausen Park is receiving a makeover in time for McKeesport's signature summer event.

“It was very important for us to make sure this project was completed by the start of International Village because of all events that take place here,” Mayor Michael Cherepko said. “This project will be done most likely this week.”

The annual food and entertainment festival is Aug. 13-15.

Jason DeMarco Painting crews began the renovations on July 8.

“We sanded the whole thing with electric sanders for five straight days,” DeMarco, a Pleasant Hills resident, said. “Over the weekend we applied a rust penetration system as a base coat.”

An industrial latex top coat specified for steel structures was applied on Monday. Work was scheduled to be completed by Friday.

“All the parts are equally important,” DeMarco said. “It's a three-step process. Sanding, treating and painting. The first two steps are surely the most important. You can't walk up to something like this and just paint it. The preparation is a must.

“The first thing I saw (at the pavilion) was the height. We got a lift in here. Safety's important. This isn't a place for ladders. You got to have the right equipment.”

The center of the pavilion roof is approximately 40 feet off the ground and gets very hot.

“When you touch that ceiling you know you touched it,” DeMarco said.

The floor was covered in plastic for protection.

Cost of the painting is less than $18,000, and DeMarco provided the lowest responsible proposal out of three businesses.

DeMarco, a U.S. Army combat veteran who served in Iraq in 2005 and 2006, worked on various projects throughout each ward in McKeesport. Painter Bryan Rosemeyer is working with him on this project.

“We've done some pretty serious stuff, but this is probably the third biggest (project) we've done,” DeMarco said.

Total cost of the project is nearly $34,500 and includes new benches, new grills, electrical work, steel beam framework improvements, total replacement of an ice guard around the bottom of the roof, roof repairs and new signage for a rededication ceremony later this year.

The Blue Top Pavilion was dedicated several years ago to former Mayor Andrew J. “Greeky” Jakomas, who served from 1953 to 1965 and was the founder of International Village. He was the first coach of the McKeesport Midgets, and was the driving force behind the removal of the B&O Railroad tracks, and construction of Kennedy Park, city hall along Lysle Boulevard and the war memorial.

“I think it's important to continue to honor him and his family,” Cherepko said.

Cherepko said the pavilion needed work last year, but the city postponed the project because of a lack of funds.

“It was really starting to look pretty bad,” Cherepko said. “The drip edge was becoming problematic, causing leaks. Being that this pavilion truly is something special, being as large as it is and unique as it is, we wanted to make sure we can keep it in a condition that is very respectable and very appealing to not only residents of the city of McKeesport, but to give people outside of our town another reason to visit Renzie Park.”

The city applied for $841,350 in Allegheny Regional Asset District funds for the park in August, and was granted $740,000 in the 2013 RAD budget. That was enough to pay for the project.

McKeesport officials plan to honor other past mayors by changing the name of some streets.

Marshall Drive Extension will be Lou Washowich Way, and Water Street at the marina will be Joe Bendel Way.

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

Washowich was instrumental in bringing Tom Clark Chevrolet to McKeesport from Versailles and initiated the idea of Marshall Drive Extension, which was completed during the mayoral tenure of now-state Sen. James Brewster.

Bendel is credited with having the vision for the Marina at McKees Point.

Michael DiVittorio is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-664-9161, ext. 1965, or

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