Plans advance for historic Aaron's building demolition
As 2012 comes to an end, several Connellsville Redevelopment Authority projects have been completed, with one major goal on the horizon.
During the authority's December meeting, Glenn Wolfe of Widmer Engineering said he intends to send a written request to the state Department of Environmental Protection before preparing bid specifications for the demolition of the historic Aaron's building on Pittsburgh Street.
Wolfe told authority members that the building, a former furniture store, was in too poor condition to send someone to inspect it.
He also has been reviewing asbestos studies that have been completed on the building.
Following DEP recommendations, Wolfe can prepare bid specifications and the authority will solicit bids, executive director Michael Edwards said.
About $73,000 in 2012 state Community Development Block Grant funding has been set aside for the demolition project, Edwards said.
“We expect that by the end of the week, the Department of Community and Economic Development will have the paperwork done allowing us to access that 2012 funding,” he said on Wednesday.
Public safety is the primary issue for the building's planned demolition, Edwards said.
“There is no reuse plan for the site,” he said.
Edwards said grantees are permitted to apply up to 30 percent of CDBG funding annually to projects to eliminate blight.
Several years ago, the building at 139 N. Pittsburgh St. was deemed a safety hazard by the Connellsville Health Board because it is leaning substantially on the side that faces Pittsburgh Street.
In 2006, the building was purchased in an eBay auction for $20,000 by Mohamed Aly, owner of a New Jersey auto dealership.
Aly traveled to Connellsville and announced plans to replace the crumbling roof and create office and retail space and New York City-styled loft apartments in the building.
In 2007, Aly, also known as Mohamed Hassanain, pleaded guilty to racketeering charges and was sentenced to a New Jersey prison.
The city assumed ownership of the more than 100-year-old building, which was declared a public nuisance in 2010.
The boarded up building has landed on websites featuring dilapidated or abandoned structures. Some visitors awed by the architecture of older buildings lament their likely destruction and the potential loss of a community's history.
Castle work completed
In other news, work at the East Park Castle has been completed.
Earlier this year, the redevelopment authority awarded a contract to repair masonry at the park to low bidder Arch Masonry Inc. of Pittsburgh at a cost of $73,800.12.
The structure, a stone castle-like building, stands on a cliff overlooking the park. It was constructed by the Works Progress Administration in the 1930s.
“It has been restored to its original condition,” Edwards said.
The Yough River Park project, a $600,000, three-year effort including new playground equipment, restroom improvements, paving and tree planting, has been finished.
Renovation funding was provided through the state CDBG program as well as the Department of Conservation and Natural Resources and the McKenna Foundation. Western Pennsylvania Conservancy provided in-kind services, helping select trees for landscaping, Edwards said.
Plans for 2013 are on hold, Edwards said, while the government wrangles with the “fiscal cliff.”
“We are waiting to hear from the state how much we will have,” Edwards said.
A December meeting to discuss potential projects has been postponed to the second quarter of 2013, he said.
Mary Pickels is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 724-836-5401 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Highlands Hospital reports strong 2014
- Flooding hits streams, basements
- Home invasion suspect from Uniontown guilty
- Local lawmakers question Wolf’s budget plan
- Connellsville planners OK hotel proposal
- Big things happening for FRIENDS of Carnegie Free Library
- Laurel Highlands Ambassador Program offers insight into history of Connellsville coal, coke region
- Mt. Pleasant council picks police chief
- Man admits to posing as doctor to con Nemacolin resort
- Creepy, kooky cast bringing ‘The Addams Family’ to Connellsville Area stage
- Program recognizes Connellsville Career and Technical Center students