County takes lead on Monsour demolition
By Richard Gazarik
Published: Friday, Dec. 6, 2013, 12:01 a.m.
Westmoreland County has stepped up to take the lead in destroying mounds of confidential records strewn throughout the ramshackle former Monsour Medical Center, officials said on Thursday.
The agreement comes after years of attempts to deal with the crumbling complex, all hindered by uncertainty about who actually owns the Jeannette facility and what to do with records abandoned when the hospital closed in 2006 as a result of a series of failed state inspections.
Those barriers came down when officials learned the Route 30 facility is owned by a now-defunct corporation, Monsour Medical Center Inc., which lists no individual owners.
Jeannette city attorney Scott Avolio said county officials have agreed to destroy the records, which by law should have been secured by hospital officials when the facility was shuttered.
To expedite the work, Avolio will ask a county judge to declare the files no longer are medical records and therefore don't have to be returned to former patients as state law requires. He said the records are more than 15 years old, making it difficult to track down those patients.
Avolio said the agreement between the county and city calls for Westmoreland County Industrial Development Corp. to spend $35,000 to construct a fence around the property and place barricades blocking entrances and exits at the site, which has been repeatedly targeted by arsonists, vandals and squatters.
Jason Rigone, executive director of the industrial development corporation, said it is time the county takes action.
“This is a first, bold step,” he said.
Rigone said his agency will pay $40,000 to raze a dilapidated stone house at the site — home to the original Monsour medical clinic founded in 1952 — and an adjacent greenhouse. The house, with a cornerstone indicating it was built in 1783, was heavily damaged in an April fire.
State and county officials have long voiced concerns that the Monsour property poses a serious threat to public safety.
“We have to board the place up so no one gets hurt,” county Commissioner Charles Anderson said.
The $75,000 needed for the work is a “small price to pay when you think what could happen over there,” said state Sen. Kim Ward, R-Hempfield, who has been working with local and county officials on the project.
“This shows you what happens when different levels of government work with each other instead of against each other. That place is a monstrosity. That should be its new name, the Monsour Monstrosity,” Ward said.
After securing the building, officials from the industrial development corporation would like to acquire the property at a free-and-clear tax sale early next year and then demolish it. Because of asbestos at the site, the cost of demolition is set at $1 million.
Before any of that can happen, a judge must issue a ruling that the property can be sold. The county Tax Claims Bureau filed a petition this week asking for that ruling, attorney Tim Andrews said.
Richard Gazarik is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 724-830-6292 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.
- Donegal American Legion Post 941 helps nonprofits
- Mt. Pleasant Rotary makes donations to community organizations
- Hempfield couple charged in thefts
- Mt. Pleasant Area School District looks to hire assistant superintendent
- No apology from Greensburg driver in DUI death
- Jeannette examines hiring city manager
- Westmoreland County Controller Balzer, IRS at odds
- Penn-Trafford board promotes Inglese
- Ligonier man charged with harassing estranged wife
- Yukon Pet Adoption League, founder settle spat
- Greensburg City Council fights zoning board ruling