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Committee formed to evaluate Sewickley Township rec center, library

| Wednesday, Feb. 27, 2013, 9:01 p.m.

Sewickley Township officials formed an advisory committee to determine the fate of Sewickley Township Recreation Center and Library.

The building at 201 Highland Ave. in Herminie would need an estimated $250,000 to $300,000 in repairs, including a new roof, in order to remain operational, Supervisor Alan Fossi said.

“We don't have specific bids for that, but it's a lot of money,” he said after the supervisors approved the formation of the committee at their meeting Feb. 20.

Built in 1942, the building was an annex, including the gymnasium, to what was then the Sewickley Township High School, which has since been razed.

The six-person committee, enacted for one year, was approved to include Recreation Director Janet Schork and library board President Marci Lavelle.

“It's a great opportunity to evaluate whether it's worth keeping the existing building or doing something new,” Schork said.

Other committee members include Brian Merdian, sewage authority chairman; Paul Rupnik Jr., township emergency management coordinator; Jared Filapose, former supervisor; and Rob Romano, owner of Gemini Construction.

“I think we have a nice cross-section of people,” Fossi said. “We have to have some ideas and I think they bring a lot to the table.”

The first meeting was planned for Tuesday at the Sewickley Township Municipal Building for any residents interested in adding input or consideration as an additional member.

The mission statement requires the committee's recommendation “be accomplished without raising taxes.”

Fossi will act as a liaison between supervisors and the committee, which will not have authority to spend any township money, only make recommendations to the supervisors.

On Oct. 31, the portion of the building housing the library incurred water damage when the after-effects of Hurricane Sandy blew through western Pennsylvania.

Many of the shelves holding the library's 18,000 books had to be moved away from basement walls where water was seeping in, including the recently renovated children's room.

To make the building more water-tight, a stucco-like finish would need to be added to the exterior. In December, officials completed a short-term fix with excavation and waterproofing around one section.

The $250,000-plus estimate only includes repairs that would keep the building operational, not improvements, Schork said.

“At first it was depressing, thinking, ‘How are we going to repair all this?' she said, but an entirely new structure could eliminate duplicate services by accommodating fitness classes and team practices in the gym, programs at the library and possibly even the township and tax offices.

“I see the day-to-day operations, I write the bills for the utilities … I see the amount of money that's going out with the rec center,” she said.

In other business, supervisors:

• Extended the $750,000 line of credit for the Municipal Authority of the Township of Sewickley for three more years.

Layman said the credit hasn't been used, but the authority wanted to extend the agreement three years. “I think it's just like a safety net,” she said.

• Extended the Turnback Supplemental Agreement for the state roads placed under the jurisdiction of the township until Dec. 31, 2015. The roads were to be repaired using about $600,000, but will be delayed as the township sees increased natural gas drilling, Layman said.

“PennDOT doesn't want us to work on the roads and then have to tear them up and pave them again,” she said.

• Appointed Dennis Gyory to an open seat of the Municipal Authority of the Township of Sewickley for a five-year term that will expire January 2018.

• Accepted the resignation of Clint Strosko as part-time recreation maintenance worker and appointed Michael Veychek to temporarily fill that position at $10 per hour while it is advertised and filled with a permanent replacement.

Stacey Federoff is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at sfederoff@tribweb.com or 724-836-6660.

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