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Greensburg council OKs plans for Seton Hill arts center

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Tuesday, May 14, 2013, 12:01 a.m.
 

Seton Hill University can move forward on building a dance and visual arts center in downtown Greensburg.

In a unanimous vote on Monday, city council approved site and land development plans for the $12 million center planned at West Otterman Street and College Avenue.

Council's approval comes with the stipulations that PennDOT approves a highway occupancy permit and the state Department of Environmental Protection endorses planning modules for the 46,000-square-foot building.

But before council supported the project, members discussed the use of $6 million in R-Cap funds from the state to help build the $12 million project.

Councilwoman Kathleen McCormick said she objects to using those funds, not the project.

“I support Seton Hill and their new dance/visual arts building,” she said. “What I do not support and have voted against in the past is the R-Cap money, which is being used towards this project.

“R-Cap money is borrowed money that all taxpayers must pay back with interest,” she said.

Former Gov. Ed Rendell set aside the money for the project, which Gov. Tom Corbett then released.

Seton Hill used $5 million in R-Cap money to build the arts center at West Otterman Street and Harrison Avenue. That center opened in 2009.

If the state has excess money to spend, McCormick said, it should be spent on putting “more police officers in communities to deal with the rising drug problem, treatment for those addicted” and to make up for cuts in funding to school districts.

She added that she planned to vote for the project because “the train (funding) has already left the station.”

Councilman Randy Finfrock said he did not see anywhere on the agenda where council was voting on R-Cap funding.

He suggested anyone who doesn't like how the state handles its financing run for state office.

“I have a belief if we don't take that money, someone else will,” Mayor Ron Silvis added. “So why not put it in our community.”

Steve Gifford, Greensburg Community Development Corp. executive director, said his board supports the Seton Hill project.

“We enthusiastically endorse this building,” he said.

His group sought to have developers erect an apartment building, a hotel, a car wash and a medical arts building on the site, but that development didn't happen, Gifford said.

Some of the developers said the parcel wasn't big enough for their plans, he added.

In another matter, council accepted the retirement of George Seranko as police captain, effective June 8.

He served for 26 years in the department as an officer and about eight years as a police dispatcher.

Council named Chad Zucco to succeed Seranko.

Zucco has worked in the department for 15 years, six on patrol, four as a sergeant and the last five years as a lieutenant.

“I'm honored to be appointed,” Zucco said. “I want to keep up with what Capt. Seranko has started. It'll be big shoes to fill.”

Bob Stiles is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 724-836-6622 or bstiles@tribweb.com.

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