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One of Connellsville officials' top priorities — move ahead with demolition of Aaron's Building

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Tuesday, April 16, 2013, 8:09 p.m.

Connellsville City Councilman Greg Ritch said the city's top priority is to move ahead with plans to demolish the Aaron's Building, which would alleviate a serious health hazard and safety issue in the city.

Ritch discussed the status of the Aaron's Building, which is located at the corner of Pittsburgh and Apple streets, with members of the Connellsville Redevelopment Authority at Tuesday's meeting.

“It's a health hazard. It has to come down,” Ritch said. “Every time we have a wind storm, I go to the building to make sure it's stable. I call the police and fire departments and ask for their assistance because I'm scared pieces will fall off the building. It's a bad situation.”

Ritch and Connellsville Mayor Charles Matthews have been talking to Doug Corteal of Connellsville and Richard DeCenizo of Uniontown to see if they will give the city rights-of-way for their adjacent properties which will be the first step in the demolition process.

“The property owners have responded to us in a positive manner,” Ritch said. “We're hoping that they give us access to the property.”

If the rights-of-way are not secured, Glen Wolfe of Widmer Engineering said the demolition crew would need to access the building from Apple Street.

After the easements have been secured, Wolfe told authority members that the city can solicit bids to tear down the structure.

Ritch said he doesn't think the Aaron's Building will “last through another winter.”

City council and redevelopment authority members are not sure how much it will cost to demolish the building.

Councilman Tom Karpiak said he has been discussing the demolition with a company that is in the process of tearing down the former Shoney's Brewery in Smithton.

“I drove the owner of the company to Connellsville to look at the Aaron's Building,” Karpiak said. “He said he would take the building down. He uses special equipment that can pick apart the building without causing any safety problems.”

Karpiak said the company might be able to tear the building down for a reasonable cost because it recycles the brick and metal from structures that it demolishes.

“We should give him an opportunity to bid on it,” Karpiak said. “It's definitely something to think about.”

Michael Edwards, the authority's executive director, said the authority is required by law to solicit bids for the demolition of the structure unless the cost is less than $18,000.

Council has been saving money for the past several years from its Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) to tear down the building. Edwards said.

“We don't really know how much it will cost to tear down the building, and we're not even sure if we have enough money to do the work,” Edwards said.

Cindy Ekas is a freelance writer.

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