Westmoreland commissioners stall ambitious Monessen plan for art community
The city of Monessen's plan to convert its downtown area to an artist's community will have to wait for the time being.
Westmoreland County commissioners on Thursday delayed action on a proposal to sell the city 271 unclaimed properties that would be the heart of an ambitious proposal to recast the former mill town.
Commissioners squabbled over a plan in which the county would sell the city the small parcels for $1 apiece. The properties are in a repository of unclaimed land that the county took ownership of for unpaid taxes.
Republican Commissioners Charles Anderson and Tyler Courtney halted the deal Thursday, saying they want more time to explore other funding options, including the possibility of securing state grants to help offset development and acquisition costs.
Both said they want to see if the county can get more money for the properties by using state grant funds.
“We're all for revitalizing Monessen, but a new opportunity has come up to look at,” Anderson said.
Courtney said he wants the city to draft a financing plan to pay for the redevelopment project before he agrees to turn over the properties.
Democrat Ted Kopas said the properties should be given to the city.
“These are properties now that can never be made money off of,” Kopas said. “We shouldn't micromanage the county.”
Commissioners unanimously agreed to delay action on the proposal for at least 30 days. Kopas said he supported the delay to keep the project “alive.”
Monessen officials want to use the properties as part of its city redevelopment effort, which includes plans to convert the downtown area to an artist community.
City Manager John Harhai said planners want to model the downtown after artist communities in Oil City and Lancaster.
City officials view the artist community as one component in an encompassing effort to convert the city into a cultural center.
Harhai said city leaders want the town of 7,700 residents to double in size over the next eight years.
Monessen officials want title to the 271 properties, many of which are dilapidated houses or unusable lots, to rehabilitate existing structures or to build new homes.
“We will advertise all over the United States for artists to move to an artist community,” Harhai said.
Funding still must be found to pay for the construction work, Harhai said, and time is of the essence.
“We don't want other people to come in, buy and flip them,” he said.
Rich Cholodofsky is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 724-830-6293 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.
- Hempfield infant fights rare disease
- Westmoreland County Transit Authority to buy 12 minibuses
- Lineup released for Greensburg concert series
- Westmoreland officials fear loss of impact fees
- Geneva College student died of heart-related natural causes, coroner says
- Budget work ahead for Southmoreland School District
- Ligonier Valley YMCA marks start of 32,000-square-foot expansion
- Women to stand trial in theft of drugs from Norwin Pharmacy
- Loyalhanna mother appeals conviction in beating of 3-month-old daughter
- WCCC plans 25% tuition increase for 2015-16
- Scottdale, Everson — separated by creek — share mining past