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Uniontown asks county for matching-fund help

| Wednesday, Jan. 26, 2005

UNIONTOWN -- Uniontown officials are asking to use a project funded with Fayette County's money to fulfill a fund-matching requirement of several million dollars in state money the city plans to put toward building a parking garage.

"The city needs some help," said Councilman Bob Cerjanec, addressing county commissioners Angela Zimmerlink and Vincent Vicites on Tuesday. "We're not asking for any money. All we need is that match."

But in allowing the city to register the nearly $900,000 Uniontown Federal Building renovation toward the match, county officials may find themselves searching for another way to provide matching funds toward other projects, Zimmerlink said.

The county commissioners approved multiple contracts toward upgrading the building in September as part of a plan to store records and house the juvenile probation department there.

"If you use that money for your project, that may take away us using it as a match for one of our county projects," Zimmerlink said.

Because maintenance projects at the county prison and courthouse are planned, Zimmerlink said she was wary of allowing Uniontown to use the Federal Building project toward the match.

Whether the work could qualify for separate match amounts was questioned Tuesday.

Vicites said he supported Uniontown's request as a measure that would benefit the county, saying that the new garage would help solve the parking problem that jurors face during trial terms.

Zimmerlink countered, "The lack of parking for jurors didn't just occur in 2004."

In deciding to further discuss and potentially vote on the issue at a meeting scheduled for Monday, Zimmerlink directed Cerjanec to provide additional information on how the Federal Building project would be used in the match.

Cerjanec said the Federal Building's share in the match would complete the amount the city needs to acquire $3.15 million in grants for the garage.

Mike Krajovic, president of the nonprofit economic development group Fay-Penn, said the multilevel structure will be crucial for business development in the downtown area.

"This is not simply a parking garage project," he said. "This is a project to revitalize downtown Uniontown. ... This is a critical component."

Fay-Penn is serving as administrator for the city's end of the revitalization. Multimillionaire businessman and Fayette County Commissioner Joe Hardy said he has put between $7 million and $8 million into rebuilding the downtown as part of the initiative he has named the George C. Marshall Plan II.

Because Hardy is a private investor, not restricted by state guidelines, Krajovic said not all of his investment can be used for the parking garage match.

Hardy did not attend Tuesday's meeting.

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