UPMC expands role in East suburbs



Even those who never set foot in UPMC's new, state-of-the-art hospital in Monroeville will see the perks of having the facility set up shop in the neighborhood.

The $250 million UPMC East is slated to open July 2, but Gateway School District, Monroeville and nearby communities have been reaping benefits from the project for years, explained Sean Logan, UPMC's vice president of community relations and the former mayor of Monroeville.

The hospital was built near the intersection of Routes 22 and 48 on the site of the former Al Monzo's Palace Inn, which was plagued with stormwater management problems that contributed to flooding in Pitcairn, among other issues. Those problems were a hindrance to development of the site, Mr. Logan said.

UPMC began by demolishing the Palace Inn and recycling it as fill for the site. If recycling hadn't happened, Mr. Logan said, 3,000 truckloads of demolished materials would have been hauled off the site, damaging roads and causing congestion at the busy intersection of Routes 22 and 48.

UPMC spent a total of $7 million on improvements to the site, including revamping stormwater management. Now, water will flow into a detention pond behind the hospital before it is slowly released, he said.

In addition to the stormwater upgrades, UPMC improved Route 22, Route 48 and Fox Plan Road around the site, upgraded signals, relocated utility lines underground and installed sidewalks, curbs and handicapped-accessible ramps.

Mr. Logan said the community improvements saved the municipality money.

In nearby Murrysville, UPMC is sponsoring the construction of a Miracle League Field, which has specialized surfaces so it can be used easily by handicapped children. UPMC also sponsors Monroeville's Summer Concert Series, Jazz Festival and Monroeville Arts Council programs, he pointed out.

Additionally, when UPMC received tax-exempt status as a charitable, nonprofit organization, it didn't accept about $370,0000 in tax refunds from Gateway, Monroeville and Allegheny County that it had paid between buying the land in 2009 and receiving the tax-exempt status in 2011, he explained.

Because UPMC is a tax-exempt organization, it will not pay property taxes to the school district, the municipality or the county. Mr. Logan said UPMC is discussing the possibility of "community benefits payments" with Gateway and Monroeville, but said there is not yet an agreement on the amount of those payments.

In addition to the physical improvements, the construction of the hospital brought 300 trade jobs to the municipality, and UPMC hired nearly 400 people from a pool of 7,000 applicants, he said.

UPMC employs 250 people at its surgery and imaging centers in Monroeville, and Mr. Logan said about 800 UPMC employees live in Monroeville and 3,500 in the eastern suburbs.

"It's not like we're new to the community" in terms of job opportunities and community contributions, he said.

Community members interested in touring UPMC East can do so during an open house from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. June 16. To register, visit upmceast.com/openhouse.

neigh_east

Annie Siebert: asiebert@post-gazette.com or 412-263-1613. Twitter: @AnnieSiebert. First Published June 7, 2012 9:00 AM


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