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Thursday, October 7, 2010

Post-gazette NOW

Canonsburg council weighs buying Armory
Police department might be moved
Thursday, October 07, 2010
Canonsburg Council next week will consider a resolution to purchase the vacant National Guard armory building on North Central Avenue.

The proposal comes after council discussed a borough building renovation project during an executive session Monday. Manager Terry Hazlett said Tuesday that council met to discuss possibly acquiring the building and moving the police department offices there.

"The tentative plan would be to put the police department on the first floor and use the second floor, which is now a gym, as a borough recreation center," he said. Mr. Hazlett said the armory was appraised at $268,000 and that council expected to pay for the building, owned by the state Department of General Services, which has offered it for sale, through a combination of building naming rights and a low- or no-interest loan. The loan, he said, would be paid off through rental fees from other agencies expected to lease space in the renovated borough building.

The priorities for Canonsburg's borough building rehabilitation were also solidified Monday: Create a music museum celebrating the town's world-famous hometown crooners and expand government offices.
Council also ironed out details related to that project's price tag, with a majority agreeing to earmark $250,000 to complete the plan -- money that Mr. Hazlett said would be a match to be considered for funding through the county's share of casino money, also known as the Local Share Account Program.

"The basic issue is if we don't apply for the funding, we'll be wasting years of time or be scrapping the project altogether," council President Joe Milioto said after the meeting. "You either want the grant or you don't want the grant."

Mr. Hazlett said approving a generalized scope for the project and identifying the matching dollars within the borough's coffers would be a no-lose situation for council.
"If we don't get the grant, we don't lose the money [we put up as a match]," he said. "We're not taking any chances."

The discussion followed a presentation by Mark Duane of Hayes Design Group, which council hired to complete a feasibility study for the borough building to determine how to most economically use the space after the library vacates nearly 4,000 square feet of space it now occupies there.
Mr. Duane said he met with council's building committee, which recommended that the priorities include the creation of a museum highlighting entertainers, such as hometown legends Perry Como and Bobby Vinton, and renovated space for borough offices, and space for other organizations such as the sewer authority and Chamber of Commerce.

The committee, he said, also indicated that expanding the facilities for the borough's police department was the third priority. He said new holding cells and additional office space were mentioned in meetings.
Those changes, plus the cost to ensure the steps, doorways and restrooms are accessible and the antiquated plumbing upgraded, Mr. Duane said the project could cost about $500,000.
After some discussion, the six council members present decided to commit $110,000 from the borough's annual local share of casino revenue to help fund it.

After Mr. Hazlett confirmed council could use state Community Development Block Grant money for the project because of accessibility issues in the scope of the work, members also agreed to use $140,000 from that source to round out its $250,000 commitment.

A vote to approve the nature of the project and related grant application is expected Monday. Grant applications are due to the Washington County Redevelopment Authority Oct. 15.
Amanda Gillooly, freelance writer;

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