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Connellsville officials tell county to bring down WCVI building

| Wednesday, June 18, 2014, 6:03 p.m.
Karl Polacek | Trib Total Media
The WCVI building on East Crawford Avenue in Connellsville sits abandoned and crumbling.

Connellsville officials will wait no longer for the demolition or rehabilitation of the former WCVI building at 131-139 E. Crawford Ave.

Councilman Gregory Ritch said the city sent a letter to Fayette County seeking demolition of the building within 30 days.

The city's action comes after officials learned that Leighton Simpson of New Jersey had submitted a bid for the property and structure to the county. The bid would take about 100 days to be awarded. Notice was sent to Simpson requiring work to be done.

Tom Currey, Connellsville's zoning and code enforcement officer and health officer, said the letter was sent by mail on June 13 to the three county commissioners and the chief clerk allowing 30 days to demolish the structure. A copy of the engineering report was also sent.

“We've been down this road before,” Ritch said. “We had to do something. Our No. 1 concern is safety.”

“While we all in the city would hope the new owner of the WCVI building has hundreds of thousands of dollars to put into the building, the reality is the building is far from saving,” Connellsville Mayor Greg Lincoln said. “And it's time for the county to accept responsibility of demolishing their very unsafe building. I hope they follow through and let the city know when they plan on taking care of the WCVI building once and for all.”

Councilman Aaron Zolbrod agreed, hoping the building would be down soon.

“The No. 1 point is safety for our volunteer firemen, police officers and residents,” said Zolbrod, adding the problem might not exist if the city had an abandoned or vacant building ordinance 15 years ago.

Fayette County Commission Chairman Al Ambrosini said the county approved the sale to Simpson at the commissioner's meeting on Tuesday. However, Ambrosini said he would like to contact Simpson to find out what his intentions might be.

“The county does not have the money to demolish the building,” Ambrosini said. “If someone gave us $1 million tomorrow, we would not have enough to take care of all of the buildings (needing attention) in the county. If they gave us $10 million, we still would not have enough.”

Ambrosini said he would sit down with the county solicitor to see what the options might be, especially considering the commissioners had approved the sale to Simpson for $200.

“I'm just not sure,” Ambrosini said. “I have no way of knowing who bought the building.”

He said he was hoping Simpson would demolish the structure and build or sell the property. He agreed dealing with the unsafe structure is a matter of public safety.

Karl Polacek is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at kpolacek@tribweb.com or 724-626-3538.

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