Penn Hills school district delays decision to donate school building

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A resolution allowing the Penn Hills School District to donate the Penn Hebron Academy to the municipality for a dollar was pulled from the agenda at tonight’s meeting.

The resolution would have provided for the donation and destruction of the 67-year-old building after its closing in June to make way for the construction of a new municipal building. District superintendent Thomas Washington said the municipality is primarily interested in the building located at 102 Duff Road, and does not require the entire 21-acre property.

“New material has come to light and the municipality has agreed to delay action on the resolution,” Mr. Washington told the audience. “The municipality requires only about 5 acres and additional meetings will be held to come up with a plan.”

The resolution was a last-minute addition to the agenda and a large audience filled the board conference room. Many in attendance were critical of the lack of opportunity for public input.

“A public hearing is required for this,” someone shouted in the audience.

“No, the school code allows for the donation of a school property to a municipal entity such as a fire company, ambulance service or municipality, without a public hearing,” Mr. Washington said.

“Why such a rush?” asked Erin Vecchio, a former Penn Hills school board member. "We always had a town meeting for any school building that we closed.”

Mr. Washington assured the audience that a town meeting will held before a decision is made.

According to Richard Liberto, the district’s business manager, the building has an assessed value of $9.4 million but is in poor condition and will require extensive renovation or demolition for any future use of the property. He estimated the cost of demolition to be about $250,000. The municipality has agreed to pay for the cost of demolishing the building.

Tim Means, freelance writer:

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