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Greensburg vows work to relieve parking crunch

Joe Napsha
| Monday, May 14, 2012, 10:05 a.m.

Greensburg officials Monday promised to create about 258 parking spaces in the city's downtown by rebuilding one closed garage, razing another one and replacing it with two surface lots and building lots at two new sites.

Thomas Sphon, city administrator, said city residents could see some relief from the parking crunch in the business district as early as this fall by the development of new parking lots.

Nine parking spaces have been created on North Maple Avenue, in front of the closed double-deck lot on North Maple Avenue, between East Pittsburgh and East Otterman streets.

That double-deck lot, which was closed in June, will be demolished and rebuilt with pre-cast concrete because that has a longer life expectancy than a concrete deck that is poured on site, Sphon said. The new double-deck lot will have about 100 spaces.

The city could seek bids and award a demolition contract on Sept. 19. Sphon said the project may cost between $750,000 and $1 million.

While the garage is being designed and pre-cast slabs manufactured, Sphon said the city could use the lower level as 40-space surface lot. Eisaman said the rebuilding work could begin next spring and construction is expected to last three months.

The city intends to build a 27-space two-tier parking lot on property at 133-135 Harrison Ave. that it obtained in November from Arthur Spagnol of Murrysville. The contract could be awarded next month, Sphon said.

Since that property lies between North Pennsylvania and Harrison avenues, the city plans to create 10 parking spaces off North Pennsylvania Avenue and the on a lower level off Harrison Avenue. The two decks would be connected by a stairway to the upper level, Sphon said.

The big piece of the puzzle involves the sale of the closed Pennsylvania Avenue Parking Garage. Sphon said the city has some 'minor issues' that must be resolved before it can sign an agreement with the Buncher Co. of Pittsburgh to sell the garage to the developer.

Buncher has tentatively agreed to create a 100-space surface lot on the site of that closed multi-level parking garage. The garage, built 30 years ago, has been closed since May because of structural problems.

Before Buncher signs the agreement, it wants the Westmoreland County Redevelopment Authority to designate the block containing the garage and post office a redevelopment zone, Mayor Karl E. Eisaman said. That makes the properties eligible for government redevelopment funding.

The city has agreed to contribute $250,000 for the project, Eisaman said. That money may be used for the demolition of the garage, which the city hopes will begin this fall.

Eisaman said Buncher and the city have not yet reached an agreement on how much Greensburg will pay to rent that parking lot. Eisaman said he hopes the agreement can be signed when council has a special meeting on Aug. 28.

The city wants to use the lot for leaseholders and some spaces for public parking. The lot, to be accessible off South Pennsylvania Avenue, may have spaces for customers using the Post Office at 238 S. Pennsylvania Ave.

Buncher also intends to create a 75-lot space that would cover two existing city lots off West Second Street, plus the adjacent property containing a vacant house at 120 W. Second St. The city agreed to buy the house in June for $118,000. The property can hold about 40 parking spaces.

The developer plans to lease the 75-space lot to U.S. Postal Service for its vehicles. The spaces would be available to the Postal Service employees when the trucks are delivering the mail. The Postal Service had leased about 95 spaces in the Pennsylvania Avenue garage before it closed.

The city will continue talks with William Thorne to purchase his Thorne Group Inc. property at 111 and 113 N. Maple Ave. The property, which is adjacent to St. Clair Park, contains two houses, an office building and parking lot.

A surface lot of rolled gravel could be created this year to provide about 45 spaces, he said.

The city also will continue to look at acquiring other properties, Sphon said.

To finance the parking projects, the city approved borrowing $3.5 million from Mellon Bank at a 5.03 percent interest rate for a 15-year term. The bulk of that money will be spent on parking lot projects.

Greensburg will not be able to borrow the money until it receives approval from the state Department of Community and Economic Development.

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