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Richland, state officials celebrate award of cash for former flower site

| Wednesday, Oct. 30, 2013, 9:00 p.m.
Deborah Deasy | Pine Creek Journal
State sen. Randy Vulakovich, PA State Rep. Mike Turzai, and Richland Township manager Dean Bastianini share a laugh together as they gathered for the announcement that Allegheny Land Trust is receiving at $500,000 grant from the Pennsyvlania Gaming Economic Development and Tourism fund.
Deborah Deasy | Pine Creek Journa
State sen. Randy Vulakovich, PA State Rep. Mike Turzai, and Richland Township manager Dean Bastianini share a laugh together as they gathered for the announcement that Allegheny Land Trust is receiving at $500,000 grant from the Pennsyvlania Gaming Economic Development and Tourism fund.

State Rep. Hal English of Hampton compared the roadside gathering of elected officials to a floral delivery.

“I like to think of us delivering flowers,” English, (R-30) told people who gathered Oct. 24 along Bakerstown Road to applaud the award of $500,000 in state gaming revenue for the purchase and cleanup of blighted land once owned by Pittsburgh Cut Flower Co.

“We're delivering a special something back to the community,” English said.

Flag men slowed passing motorists on the Red Belt as officials delivered short speeches across the road from the site of now-demolished Pittsburgh Cut Flower Co. greenhouses.

“This is a great day for Richland Township and Richland Township residents,” said Dean Bastianini, manager of Richland Township.

Other attendees included state House of Representatives Majority Leader Mike Turzai (R-28), state Sen. Randy Vulakovich (R-40), and Mary Ann Eisenreich, director of the Southwest Pennsylvania office of Gov. Tom Corbett.

The land trust plans to preserve the land for public recreation and limited economic development.

The $500,000 in Rivers Casino revenue to Allegheny Land Trust, a nonprofit group, is among about $6.5 million in grants approved by the Commonwealth Financing Authority to fund 19 projects in Allegheny County through the Pennsylvania Gaming Economic Development and Tourism Fund.

Allegheny Land Trust plans to purchase the former Pittsburgh Cut Flower Co. tract for $1.4 million in grants and donations from Legacy Landings Inc., the current owner. The land trust expects to spend another $600,000 in grants and donations to pay for cleanup of the site.

“We're about 85 percent of the way there,” Land Trust Executive Director Chris Beichner said after he unveiled a roadside sign showing a thermometer to illustrate the nearly $1.8 million collected so far, including about $1 million in state funds.

Trust officials hope to collect about $140,000 for the land purchase from Richland area residents and businesses.

“We're still about $65,000 shy,” Beichner said.

About 300 Richland area individuals and business owners already donated about $75,000 to the campaign, he said.

“It's good to see the support from our legislators,” said Annette Robinson, president of the Orchard Park Neighborhood Association. “Now we just need our community to step up.”

Last year, Robinson organized Christmas season luminaria sales that raised about $9,000 for the purchase of the former Pittsburgh Cut Flower Co. property.

Allegheny Land Trust is developing 2-to-10-year master plans for the tract, based on suggestions made by about 500 people who attended brainstorming sessions in February and April at the Northern Tier Regional Library.

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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