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Sale date for Monsour Medical Center in Jeannette finalized by court

| Wednesday, Aug. 27, 2014, 10:57 p.m.
Barry Reeger | Tribune-Review
Money to build a barrier around the former Monsour Medical Center in Jeannette will come from the Neighborhood Partnership Program, run by the state Department of Community and Economic Development.

Monsour Medical Center and its adjacent properties could be in the hands of the county by late October.

Westmoreland County Judge Anthony Marsili on Wednesday set an Oct. 24 free-and-clear sale date for the abandoned Jeannette properties.

No owners, creditors or lienholders showed up at a hearing on Wednesday to object.

“The pieces of the project are starting to come together,” said Jason Rigone, director of the county's industrial development corporation, after the 30-minute hearing.

County officials have been attempting to acquire ownership of the deteriorating property along Route 30 for the last two years. The facility was closed in 2006 for failing a series of state inspections. In recent years, it had been home to trespassers, vandals and arsonists until Jeannette city officials used a portion of grant money earlier this year to erect a barricade and seal the structure.

The county is posting the 32-acre site for sale because of unpaid taxes. It initially was posted for sale in December, but no one submitted a bid.

Gail Malloy, an independent contractor with the county tax claims bureau, testified on Wednesday that she had trouble locating addresses for owners of the properties. Marsili previously granted permission for the impending sale to be advertised in a newspaper and posted on the properties, rather than require personal service.

The hospital was opened in 1958 by the Monsour family. Members of the board of directors who were in office when the hospital closed have either died or moved. Numerous creditors — including the Internal Revenue Service and Pension Benefit Guaranty Corp. — and lienholders were notified of the impending sale, Malloy testified. No objections have been filed.

Rigone said the entire project — including demolition, preparation for resale and consulting and engineering fees — is anticipated to cost about $2 million. County officials are awaiting word on whether an application for $1 million in state funds will be approved and hope to obtain additional money from other programs, he said.

Jeannette solicitor Scott Avolio said the city has about $43,000 in grant money to contribute and called the sale date a “good step” in moving through the process.

Westmoreland County has committed $500,000 in federal Community Development Block Grant funding, Rigone said.

“We would like to get started as soon as the acquisition takes place,” he said.

A plan is in the works to get work moving quickly if the county is the successful bidder. The source of money for the sale price has not been determined yet, he said.

“It's projects like these that can only be done by public agencies,” he said. “You have to be patient, you have to be persistent, you have to have a plan in place.”

Some demolition has already taken place. Two outlying buildings at the site were razed earlier this year.

Court records show the original owners were Eva Monsour and her sons, Robert, Roy, William and Howard, all physicians. Howard Monsour's son, Michael Monsour, was CEO at the time of the hospital's closure.

Officials hope the eventual demolition of the circular tower will mean one less eyesore for Jeannette, because officials believe the building's unsightly appearance is hampering the city's efforts to attract business to the city.

Since the site is located along heavily traveled Route 30, which will be widened by the state, the property could attract more commercial development.

As the building continues to deteriorate, the city and county fear it could collapse onto motorists driving past.

Renatta Signorini is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 724-837-5374 or rsignorini@tribweb.com.

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