ShareThis Page

Homestead development project on Eighth Avenue progresses

| Friday, Sept. 13, 2013, 3:36 a.m.

Development appears to moving ahead on several properties in Homestead.

Council on Thursday approved a recommendation from the borough's historical architecture review board that gives the green light to parts of a $13 million commercial and residential project.

The project, which has been in development for about four years by a.m. Rodriguez Associates Inc., has been deemed architecturally appropriate with respect to existing buildings that surround it in the 100 block of E. Eighth Avenue and along Amity Street.

The firm needed the historical approval on its plans to build a 6,000-square-foot commercial building along E. Eighth Avenue and rebuild the old post office along Amity Street at Ninth Avenue. The project will include townhouses along Amity Street.

In total, the project will add 30 new commercial units and 51 residential units to the community.

Council rezoned the borough's old municipal building at Ninth Avenue and Amity Street. The structure, which has been abandoned for about 25 years, was zoned for public use only. Now it is zoned for commercial development.

Councilman Lloyd Cunningham said the surrounding neighborhood already is zoned for commercial use. He said the borough has been trying to market the building and has several parties interested in purchasing it.

The rezoning is necessary, he said, if the borough plans to sell the property.

“It's not going to come up with very much money,” Cunningham said of the three-story structure. “If someone just fixes it up, we're ahead of the game.”

Cunningham said parties that have expressed interest in the building include a group of sculptors, nonprofit organizations and a hydroponic farming operation.

In other matters, Mayor Betty Esper raised concerns that the borough is mishandling its police department payroll. She said supplemental insurance premiums and union dues are being taken out of officers' paychecks but going unpaid.

Police Chief Jeff DeSimone said his entire department lost supplemental insurance coverage over the summer when premiums for April, May and June went unpaid.

The initial matter apparently was rectified when the department filed a grievance but, as was noted at the meeting, problems are continuing.

DeSimone said he and other officers received letters this week from Aflac insurance company that only a portion of their insurance is being paid.

DeSimone indicated there has been a lack of communication from borough administration on the matter.

“This is the first time anybody has addressed this with us,” he told council.

Councilwoman Zaneta Hines said she thought the payroll issues had been fixed and that she wasn't aware that new ones were occurring.

Addressing DeSimone, she said, “This wasn't personal. It was a mistake.” Hines noted that a similar problem had occurred in the public works department.

Hines said the initial problems were the fault of “human error,” but would not further describe the situation, citing legal concerns related to personnel issues.

Councilman Drew Borcik suggested Esper, DeSimone, borough manager Ian McMeans and the borough's insurance broker arrange a conference call for Friday to try to iron out the problems. Council authorized the phone call by unanimous vote.

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.