Belle Vernon Area planning new fuel tanks for Multiplex

| Saturday, Feb. 2, 2013, 12:12 a.m.

Belle Vernon Area school district buses might be fueling up elsewhere come March.

The school board on Monday approved the sale of the former bus garage at 103 Main St., in the Pricedale section of Rostraver Township, to ITAMI Developers Inc. for $161,000.

The deal needs Westmoreland County Court approval, board member Aaron Bialon said.

The district now uses the property's underground tanks to fuel buses and diesel vehicles.

The district will begin advertising Monday for bids to install an above-ground fuel tank at its Multiplex on Finley Road.

Superintendent Dr. John Wilkinson said the tank should be ready by late spring or early summer.

“We do have a contingency plan to work out a temporary deal with a diesel supplier to fuel the buses,” Wilkinson said. “I'm hoping to get the (tank) bids approved at the next board meeting.”

School director Joe Grata said above-ground tanks do not require the same type of regulatory permits as underground tanks and can installed in minimal time.

The former garage currently sits on a two-acre, fenced parcel that housed Rostraver High School from 1936 to 1965.

While the school was demolished in the early 1970s, the former bus garage – which once housed the high school auto shop – remains.

Belle Vernon Area stopped using the property for bus storage and maintenance when it moved into the Multiplex – a former 84 Lumber store – in 2009.

The district will use money from the sale to pay for the new tank.

“ ... It puts the property back on the tax rolls,” Grata said. “It makes sense from a transportation standpoint and puts fuel where the buses start and end their day. And it avoids unnecessary travel, which is not a long distance per se, but nevertheless goes through a busy corridor.”

The district is also considering a second tank for regular gasoline at the Multiplex to fuel 10 vans recently purchased to transport special education students.

Bialon said he voted against the sale because he did not want to displace district softball players, age 6 and older, who use the site for winter training. The garage now houses pitching machines and nets, so the players can practice live hitting.

Board member John Nusser also voted against the sale, while Grata, Kimberly Ringstad Gray, Toni-Jo Kunka, Ed Naylor and board President Dale Patterson approved the action. Board members Daniel Sepesky and Cathy Michener were absent.

“We don't' have a good softball program at the high school for no reason. … I could name 10 girls involved with the middle school and high school team right now who practiced there,” Bialon said.

“A lot of my friends their children were directly involved and really appreciated the use of the facility, and a lot of people were donating their time and paying the utilities.”

Plus, Bialon said, owning property is always an asset, “especially in our case.”

However, Bialon – an attorney – acknowledged some benefits to the transaction.

“We're getting rid of a liability for the underground tanks, because it's an as-is sale,” he said. “I've not seen the sales agreement, but we'll reap some benefit. Hopefully, we'll do something to relocate all the activities taking place down there.”

Wilkinson indicated that was his intention.

“It was convenient, but really, we can provide a better opportunity for the girls,” he said. “We're going to use part of the Multiplex and construct a better hitting area at very little cost to the taxpayers, because we have all the material already.”

Wilkinson said the Multiplex has plenty of available room and is already heated.

“I want to let people know how we're never going to take something away from the kids unless we have an alternative plan,” he said.

Ron Amati, owner of ITAMI, said he expects to finalize the deal and start moving in within 30 days.

Amati declined to disclose specific plans for the property.

“I am very familiar with that area of Rostraver and felt compelled to buy property in the area,” Amati said. “I've bought defunct properties in New York, Florida. … I think it's a valuable piece of property.”

The final sales agreement has to be completed between ITAMI and district solicitor Ira Weiss.

Two years ago, the district had the property appraised. It's assessed value was about $100,000 value, according to Grata and Bialon.

Grata said Amati's proposal was the only one the board received.

He said the district sought bids from others who had expressed interest in the former bus garage. None of them submitted bids.

Rick Bruni Jr. is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at or 724-684-2635.

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