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Residents speak out against plans to sell borough building

| Wednesday, July 16, 2014, 9:00 p.m.

Despite assurances that plans to possibly sell the Delmont borough building are in their infancy, several borough residents want council to reconsider the idea.

More than a dozen residents attended the July 8 council meeting to speak out against the idea of selling the borough building, which also houses the borough library, a day care and several businesses. Officials last month announced that they were exploring the options of selling the building and expanding the borough garage to house borough offices and the police department.

“Isn't this place good enough for you people?” resident Julie Walczer asked council. “Do you need to be like Murrysville with their wooden desks? This is a bad idea.”

Council President Jim Bortz said several proposals will be unveiled at a public meeting later this summer or this fall.

“The last time somebody suggested the borough building was going to be sold, it caused a major uprising from the people who rent from us,” Bortz said. “This is an information-gathering. Is it feasible, do we want to do it, or does it make sense? There has been no point in getting everyone involved until now.”

Any move is at minimum a year away, Bortz said.

Heather Evakovich operates the Salem Crossing Day Care out of the building and said she wants an extended lease to assure her clients that the business will be there for the foreseeable future.

“Salem Crossroads Day care has called Delmont home for the better part of three decades,” Evankovich said. “We want to create stability for the day care and to make sure that it stays in Delmont.”

Borough engineer Gary Baird said his firm is developing scenarios that would allow the borough to relocate its offices. Baird said it is part of a series of studies the firm has done during the past eight to 10 years.

“We started reviewing the borough's facilities, sewers, roads, everything,” Baird said. “Our improvements don't happen overnight. For the last 12-15 months, we've taken a look at what are the costs at the different facilities.”

Officials said the borough doesn't make money from renting the building. Instead, its leases help the borough break-even on building expenses, such as utilities.

The Delmont Library Board has worries about what options are being reviewed, said president Dave Weber.

“You seem predisposed that you need a new building,” Weber said. “It doesn't make any sense to me to move from a break-even position to a cost. The only way you get that money is back is from the taxpayers.”

Daveen Rae Kurutz is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 412-871-2365, or dkurutz@tribweb.com.

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