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Donation moves land trust closer to purchasing site of former Pittsburgh Cut Flower Co. in Richland

| Wednesday, March 13, 2013, 9:00 p.m.
Pine Creek Journal
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Pine Creek Journal
Names of folks, left to right, in “Adams” photo submitted by Allegheny Land Trust. Chris Beichner, Allegheny Land Trust; Secretary Richard Allan, DCNR John Rohe, Colcom Foundation; Representative Mike Turzai, State House; Herb Dankmyer, Richland Township Supervisor; Dean Bastianini, Richland Township Manager; and Sara Kennedy, Office of Mike Turzai were all on hand. Deborah Deasy | Pine Creek Journal

A $300,000 contribution from the Colcom Foundation is among the latest donations to Allegheny Land Trust for purchase of the 180-acre former Richland Township home of Pittsburgh Cut Flower Co.

“Allegheny Land Trust is 75 percent towards reaching our goal of purchasing the property,” said Christopher Beichner, executive director of the trust.

Allegheny Land Trust signed a sales agreement last April with Legacy Landings LLC, the property's current owner, to buy the site for $1.4 million.

The Colcom Foundation previously gave Allegheny Land Trust $50,000 to acquire a purchase option for the property.

The late conservationist Cordelia Scaife May established the Colcom Foundation in 1996.

“It is a privilege to support Allegheny Land Trust in advancing the conservation ideals of Colcom's founder, Cordelia S. May,” said Carol Zagrocki, program director for the Colcom Foundation.

Announcement of the latest Colcom Foundation grant follows the award of a $509,500 grant from the Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources (PDCNR) to Allegheny Land Trust for purchase of the former Pittsburgh Cut Flower Co. property.

Richard Allen, secretary of the PDCNR, joined John Rohe, vice president of the Colcom Foundation, on Feb. 28 at the property to applaud Allegheny Land Trust's efforts to permanently protect 150 acres of the land as “green” space for passive recreation, and to set aside 30 acres for limited economic development.

“This particular project is a perfect example of tying the environment to the economy, with the transformation of a former commercial property into protected open space, with the most disturbed areas being dedicated to new economic development,” Allan said in a statement. “We are always pleased when our investment leverages local and private dollars to accomplish these goals.”

State House majority leader Mike Turzai (R-Marshall) also visited the site on Feb. 28 with Beichner of the Allegheny Land Trust, Richland Township Supervisor Herb Dankmyer and Dean Bastianini, manager of Richland Township.

The public officials gathered under a tent opposite the deteriorating former greenhouses of Pittsburgh Cut Flower Co. on Bakerstown Road.

Tall chain link fences currently shield the greenhouses while contractors rid the area of contaminants, including asbestos from disturbed insulation around pipes in the greenhouses.

As part of its sales agreement to buy the property for $1.4 million, Allegheny Land Trust agreed to reimburse Legacy Landings LLC for the additional “reasonable” cost of cleaning up the site.

Beichner, the trust's executive director, expects those cleanup costs to approach $1 million.

“We don't know what that final number will be until all the work is done and the waste is removed,” Beichner said.

Overseeing the site cleanup for Legacy Landings LLC is Mid-Atlantic Environmental Consultants of Richland Township.

Deborah Deasy is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 724-772-6369 or ddeasy@tribweb.com.

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