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Officials to split cost of analyzing Ice Plant Hill Road hillside in Wilmerding

| Monday, Aug. 18, 2014, 3:46 a.m.
Jennifer R. Vertullo | Daily News
A rock slide has made Ice Plant Hill Road impassable near the Wilmerding YMCA.
Jennifer R. Vertullo | Daily News
A rock slide this week on Ice Plant Hill Road damaged Jersey barriers put in place by the Army Corps of Engineers in the 1990s.

Officials from Allegheny County, Wilmerding and YMCA of Greater Pittsburgh have agreed to split the cost of a geotechnical investigation of the Ice Plant Hill Road hillside in the borough.

A landslide occurred on Jan. 15, across from the Wilmerding YMCA. It forced closure of the road at the Wilmerding/North Versailles Township line, affecting YMCA patrons as well as motorists traveling from East McKeesport into Wilmerding.

Borough secretary Joe Hartzell said council agreed to put $5,000 toward the study's $15,318 cost.

Allegheny County committed $5,000 and the YMCA agreed to pay $5,318.

Pennsylvania Soil & Rock Inc. will conduct the study, which includes site visits, soil and rock sampling, drilling, monitoring of drilling, analysis and reporting. No timetable for the study was established.

“We've been a little bit ahead on collections of earned income and local service taxes,” Hartzell said, explaining how Wilmerding could pay for its portion of the study.

Allegheny County public works director Stephen G. Shanley said he received the borough's signature on the agreement on Thursday, and the county's contracts section has begun processing the agreement for its signatures.

“Once the agreement is executed, the soil investigation can begin,” Shanley said. “The soil study is necessary to determine conceptual design for stabilizing the slope. Knowing what the solution will be will enable the design engineer to submit an accurate proposal for its final design.”

YMCA signed the agreement on July 10.

“It's really not the Y's responsibility to do this, but we feel it's an obligation (to the community),” YMCA of Greater Pittsburgh district vice president Gary Nowading said. “This study needs to get done.”

Nowading said a local business anonymously donated half of the money needed for YMCA's study contribution.

“We just reached out to this company and they were more than generous,” Nowading said. “Without their support and other people like that things wouldn't get done.”

Nowading commended the borough and county for their efforts in trying to find a solution to the road problem.

A new entrance was opened at the Wilmerding YMCA, downstairs from a main entrance that faces the troubled hillside.

YMCA executive director Scott Heasley said the road closure has caused some issues, but all programs are being offered to members.

“It's still impacting us, and it's still a concern from a risk management side of it with the detours that are going to be for ambulances or fire (trucks) or police to get there,” Heasley said. “That's always our number one concern. We want to make sure that we can fully serve our community.”

Details about programs and services can be accessed through the website.

YMCA agreed to split the cost of the study with the county and Wilmerding after East Allegheny School District, which is one of the site's taxing bodies, declined to contribute.

District Solicitor Daniel Beisler said at an April school board workshop meeting that East Allegheny did not have enough money for it.

“They just don't have any funding available to help out with this,” Nowading said. “We don't want to sit back. The Y's trying to be proactive.”

The study does not include actual design or specifications and bid documents, according to a letter from borough engineer Don Glenn.

Pennsylvania Soil & Rock would prepare those documents at an estimated cost of $5,000 to $10,000.

Glenn's letter states he requested Shanley pursue additional funding, not to exceed $10,000, to have a design and bid package prepared.

The estimated split between the borough, county and YMCA is $3,333 each.

Allegheny County communications director Amie Downs said the study's $15,318 was “the only agreement/funding that has been discussed at this point.”

Nowading said he received word about the $3,333 request, and would discuss it with his colleagues.

“The Y's a nonprofit,” he said. “We don't have the funds to do this, but we want to do something. We want to get the ball rolling.”

Hartzell said the borough has not authorized the additional $3,333.

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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