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Vote tonight may decide office issue, park addition

| Monday, Aug. 6, 2001

Dormont Council may vote tonight to borrow the money needed to build offices for the district attorney in the new municipal center and to add a trail and other amenities to borough parks.

Two ordinances are proposed, which would allow the borough to borrow $360,000 for the projects. The council meeting is set for 7:30 p.m. in council chambers.

Acting borough Manager David Soboslay said Dormont plans to borrow $285,000 to build office space in the second floor of the municipal center, the former Hillsdale School.

Dormont recently leased the second floor of the building to the Allegheny County District Attorney's office. District Attorney Stephen A. Zappala Jr. said opening a south suburban office is part of his plan to decentralize his office with satellites across the county.

The Dormont office will be the largest and will house the investigative division, grand jury division, wiretap unit and offices for three assistant district attorneys. The grand jury meets once or twice a month.

Those divisions now operate in a building in the Strip District, where there are 'serious space constraints,' Zappala said.

The Dormont site was attractive because it is close to bus and light rail transit lines, he said. The district attorney's office will pay $8,000 a month in rent to Dormont under a five-year lease, with an option for five more years, said Mike Manko, spokesman for the district attorney.

The Dormont site also will be the headquarters for the Allegheny County Drug Task Force and will be linked to Night Court with an interactive computer system.

Dormont has hired First City Co. for project management and architectural services to design the district attorney's office in 11,000 square feet on the second floor of the municipal center.

Dormont purchased the old school from the Keystone Oaks School District for $1 in 1997 and spent $3.2 million to renovate the building and build a fire station across the street.

The borough is depending on building tenants to help pay the annual operating and debt service costs.

The work on the second floor is expected to be finished by Thanksgiving, Soboslay said. Some of the electrical and heating and air conditioning work was done during the original renovations.

The additional $75,000 that Dormont Council plans to borrow will go toward a variety of improvements at Dormont Park and Beggs Snyder Park.

Dormont Park is to get a new asphalt trail, one-half to three-fourths of a mile long. The walkway will lead from the upper parking lot and past the ballfields to the lower park, without disturbing the large trees in the park.

Soboslay said a $100,000 state grant is paying for most of the trail project; the borough is contributing $20,000.

Work on that project is expected to begin in mid-August and be completed in about six weeks.

There will be additional landscaping, and the placement of five benches along the trail.

At Beggs Snyder Park off McNeilly Road, the borough plans to do grading work and 'basic improvements,' Soboslay said. Plans also call for enlarging the soccer and baseball fields there.

Susan Schmeichel can be reached at sschmeichel@tribweb.com or (412) 306-4527.

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