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Gaming proceeds to help buy former Richland flower company site

| Wednesday, Sept. 25, 2013, 9:00 p.m.

Gov. Tom Corbett has announced the allocation of $500,000 in proceeds from gambling for acquisition of the blighted former site of Pittsburgh Cut Flower Co. in Richland.

The Allegheny Land Trust, which plans to buy the 180-acre property for $1.4 million, is among recipients of almost $6.6 million in gaming funds for 19 projects across Allegheny County.

“We are supporting initiatives that will transform blight into new opportunities for quality housing, business growth and job creation,” Corbett said in a prepared statement.

“The 19 approved projects will also address important public safety and infrastructure needs and will undoubtedly improve the quality of life for residents,” Corbett said.

Revenue from the Rivers Casino on Pittsburgh's North Shore will fund the projects through the Pennsylvania Gaming Economic Development and Tourism Fund Program, or GEDTF.

Redevelopment of the Pittsburgh Cut Flower Co. land is expected to generate up to $33.4 million in private investments and create 165 jobs, according to the governor's prepared statement.

Chris Beichner of the Allegheny Land Trust, or ALT, welcomed news of the gaming-funds grant.

“The Allegheny Land Trust is extremely grateful to Gov. Corbett, (House) Majority Leader (Mike) Turzai (R-28) and (state) Rep. (Hal) English (R-30)for partnering with Richland Township and ALT to secure this critical funding for this project,” said Beichner, executive director of the land trust.

The trust plans to use the former Pittsburgh Cut Flower Co. property for passive recreation and limited commercial development.

“This is a land conservation and economic development project that is supported by the community, and we are very grateful for the support from our elected leaders,” Beichner said.

The gaming-funds grant puts the land trust closer to closing on the its planned purchase of the former Pittsburgh Cut Flower Co. property.

“We are a lot closer now, but we are still fundraising,” Beichner said. “The community should still consider contributing toward this great project. We are very close to the finish line now.”

Dean Bastianini, manager of Richland Township, also applauded the gaming-funds grant.

“This is great news,” Bastianini said. “On behalf of the Richland Board of Supervisors, I would like to state their appreciation to Gov. Corbett, representatives Turzai and English, and state Sen. (Randy) Vulakovich (R-40) for their support of this worthwhile project, which will eliminate blight and enhance economic opportunities in our community.”

Mid-Atlantic Environmental Consultants of Richland is coordinating cleanup of the former Pittsburgh Cut Flower Co. site after vandals broke into its crumbing greenhouses to steal metal pipe, which contaminated the site with airborne asbestos.

“The state grant represents an investment in Richland's future,” Bastianini said, “which will result in future dividends to the township and its tax payers.”

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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