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Dormont residents feel kicked out of pool

| Saturday, Jan. 27, 2007, 12:00 p.m.

Dormont's mayor and council president have been meeting with developers to discuss plans relating to Dormont Park and the borough's landmark 87-year-old swimming pool, borough Manager George Zboyovsky said Friday.

The meetings, though, have prompted a backlash from residents and at least one council member. They accuse Mayor Thomas Lloyd and council President Linda Kitchen of conducting meetings secretly to avoid public scrutiny.

"The fact that the mayor and council President Linda Kitchen are talking to developers about Dormont Park and Dormont Pool is unconscionable," said John Maggio, a resident who launched a fundraising drive to help repair the pool and its adjacent recreation center after borough officials threatened to shut the pool last year.

Major pool repairs yet to be done are estimated to cost $1 million.

Ann Conlin, a council member who said she was unaware of the meetings until this week, said such actions erode the trust of many residents.

"The borough has been doing business this way for a long time, and there is just a lot of mistrust," she said. "Residents want it to be transparent."

Conlin also characterized the meetings as an insult to the residents who have worked the past 10 months to raise money for pool repairs, ever since the borough announced it would close the pool last summer. Borough officials later agreed to open the pool.

"These residents have worked too hard to just jerk them around like this," Conlin said.

Lloyd was asked yesterday if proposals for commercial development in the park, in exchange for building a new pool or an overhaul of the current pool, had been discussed at meetings with developers.

"Might be. I don't know that. Until council sees them, I can't really talk about that," the mayor said.

Kitchen, the council president, did not return telephone calls.

Five meetings with two developers have taken place over the past six weeks, Zboyovsky said yesterday.

Details of the developers' proposals regarding "sustainability of the pool" likely will be presented to council next month, the borough manager said.

Zboyovsky said the developers met with him, Kitchen and Lloyd. Neither Zboyovsky nor Lloyd would identify the developers.

Zboyovsky said he believes commercial development would not be allowed in Dormont Park, a 23-acre complex at the intersection of Dormont Avenue and Banksville Road. He said the deed to the park prohibits either selling or giving away any part of the park.

Borough council is scheduled to meet at 7 p.m. Monday at the municipal center, 1114 Hillside Ave.

The meeting will include discussions about hiring a pool-planning consultant but not the developers' proposals, Zboyovsky said.

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