Pascuzzi suggests converting church to Export borough building
By Daveen Rae Kurutz
Published: Wednesday, Jan. 16, 2013, 9:00 p.m.
An Export Councilman has proposed a new use for an old property.
Council Vice President Dave Pascuzzi said he wants the borough to convert the former Lutheran Church off of Roosevelt Avenue into a new borough building. The current borough building does not meet accessibility standards set by the federal Americans with Disabilities Act.
“It would be a building that could be used for more than meetings,” Pascuzzi said. “We'd have a building we could use all year long.”
Council has been doing business at the firefighters' social hall since summer. Pascuzzi, who uses a wheelchair after his foot was amputated in late spring, has been advocating to make the borough building accessible. Council chambers are on the second floor of the building and require visitors to climb a flight of stairs.
Officials had proposed building a ramp that would wrap around the Washington Avenue borough building, but Pascuzzi and Councilman Lou McQuaide said the ramp would have to be pretty long to reach the second floor at a grade to meet ADA regulations.
The borough owns the church. Officials have discussed converting the building into a historical museum and trying to find a for-profit tenant that would occupy the other half of the building.
Pascuzzi said the building still could host a historical library or museum. He suggested that officials seek bids to put in handrails and an accessible restroom.
He also suggested using the $35,000 that council has set aside for the historical museum to pay for the conversion.
Councilman John Nagoda didn't like the idea.
“We need to have something done to (the borough building),” Nagoda said. “We have a lovely building over there. It was one of the first buildings in the borough. Our government has always met in the center of the borough. I don't think we should move it.”
Councilwoman Melanie Litz, who is chairwoman of the historical society, said previous estimates to make the church accessible ranged from $300,000 to $600,000. That's more money than the borough can afford, she said.
“I'd love to see that building used in some capacity in the borough,” Litz said. “There's big potential with that building.”
Council President Barry Delissio suggested Pascuzzi come up with a detailed plan and look into getting an estimate for the work.
“We need to come up with the dollars and cents here,” Delissio said. “If there's other options we need to explore, they need to be cost-effective but also user-friendly.”
Pascuzzi had advocated installing a chair lift, but he said that plan would be “expensive and high-maintenance.” The ramp, he said, would cost about $40,000 plus engineering fees.
To Pascuzzi, moving the borough building to the former church simply makes the most sense.
“It's a really nice set up, with great acoustics so no one would have to use a microphone. I don't see where we're getting with this,” Pascuzzi said. “I think this is a very viable option.”
Daveen Rae Kurutz is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 412-856-7400, ext. 8627, or email@example.com.
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