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Mom gives up on Dormont for tribute skatepark

| Thursday, May 17, 2012, 9:34 a.m.

Mary Pitcher had hoped to open a skate park in Dormont as a way to honor her late sons, who grew up in the borough. But after spending nearly four years in and out of favor with shifting majorities on the Dormont Borough Council, she's looking elsewhere.Dormont council last month overturned a "memorandum of understanding" the borough had with Pitcher for the park on the grounds that the previous council hadn't followed proper procedure for approving it. Weeks later, Pitcher started sitting in on other municipalities' meetings and talking to their representatives about whether they'd be interested in hosting the memorial.The criticism she received in Dormont and the council's rejection of her proposal left her feeling like she had "post-traumatic stress," Pitcher said, but the experience left her more prepared to move forward somewhere else."Everything they threw at us, we researched," she said. "We do feel more knowledgeable and confident in terms of what it would take to build."So far, Mt. Lebanon, Carnegie and Scott have expressed interest in accepting the donation of Pitcher Park, a park for skateboarding, rollerblading and BMX biking that Pitcher wants to establish in memory of her sons Vincent and Stephen, who drowned in a 2008 accident. Pitcher said she was arranging a meeting with officials from all three communities to answer their questions and concerns all at once."I'm not pushing this park," she said. "If they want it, they can come to us and ask questions."Mt. Lebanon Commission President Dave Brumfield said he was impressed by how much planning and preparation Pitcher and the foundation she established had already done, and said the next step for the municipality would be getting an expert to evaluate where in Mt. Lebanon the park would fit. Previous studies had proposed a few skater-friendly features at Mt. Lebanon's main park, or as part of a larger park project on the undeveloped McNeilly property."It's an opportunity we'd be fools to ignore, especially given that it (would serve) a segment of our community we really don't have much for," Brumfield said.Once a home is found, the foundation plans to raise money, design a park to suit the chosen site and the community, then build and donate it.Pitcher Park foundation spokeswoman Alexis Aggazio-Bach said the Ken and Carol Schultz Foundation, based in Phoenix and chaired by a former Pittsburgh-area resident, had written a letter of intent to cover up to 85 percent of the estimated $600,000 cost of a 12,000- to 14,000-square-foot skate park. Though some fundraising still would be needed, the Schultz Foundation's commitment covers almost everything the park would need, Pitcher said."It's really taken the pressure off the organization," she said.

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