Penn Hills moves ahead with public, but not public, open house
A Penn Hills planning commission member used Facebook to invite residents to this week's “Grand Opening” ceremony for the brand new municipal complex.
One problem: the event wasn't supposed to be open to the public.
Planning Director Chris Blackwell said the Friday event, scheduled to start at 10 a.m. at the complex on Duff Road, is not an official opening and the event was designed merely to allow municipal staff, council members, the mayor and select dignitaries to walk through the building.
“(The invite) says nothing about the public being invited,” Blackwell said.
“There was a big brouhaha for building this ‘municipal-mahal.' And not wanting the public there? Well, are you ashamed? It just strikes me funny. They should be proud,” said Brent Rambo, the planning commission member who sent out the Facebook invite.
He received the invitation as a letter in early June, which reads: “You're invited. Join the Municipality of Penn Hills for the Grand Opening of the Penn Hills Municipal Complex … Refreshments will be served. Please RSVP … by June 15.”
Thinking the invitation was meant for all, Rambo created an “event” on Facebook that invites the general public to the Friday event. He said he didn't realize the event was not intended for the public.
Since Rambo's Facebook post, Administrative Secretary Maureen Sorce issued a statement that said residents will not be turned away from Friday's event but that a later, public event, is planned.
“As soon as everyone is settled in, there will be an open house for the residents to see the building,” she said.
Sorce said the municipal administration, code and planning departments will begin moving in to the new building on June 25 and expects other departments to be settled by late July. She said the move was scheduled to start June 18, but moved the date ahead one week.
She said there was nothing wrong with the building that prevented them from moving sooner, but that it was easier to postpone moving so departments could move independently instead of all at once.
The new $12.3 million complex will consolidate Penn Hills police, EMS and municipal offices on 15.9 acres at the former Penn Hebron school on Duff Road. It will also have a firefighter training area.