Allegheny County redevelopment funds Soldiers & Sailors 'green roof,' other projects

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Soldiers & Sailors Memorial Hall and Museum will get $250,000 from a state tax on casinos to help pay for a "green roof" on its landmark building in Oakland.

The Allegheny County Redevelopment Authority on Friday approved the grant from the Community Infrastructure & Tourism Fund for the environmentally friendly renovations.

The $563,000 project will include improvements to storm drains and the electrical system, in addition to planting low-weight vegetation on portions of the top of the century-old building. The "green roof" will be designed to absorb storm water, reducing the amount of runoff and provide additional insulation to trim heating and cooling costs.

The result should cut utility bills by up to 25 percent, redevelopment staff member Iris Whitworth said.

The grant to Soldiers & Sailors was among 11 requests worth almost $2 million approved by the authority. They all will be funded with proceeds from the casino tax.

Two separate agencies that provide free legal services were approved for grants.

Duquesne University School of Law received $250,000 to help furnish and buy equipment for its free-standing clinical education building on Fifth Avenue. The new $1.6 million home for the law clinic at 914 Fifth Ave. is close to public transit and Pittsburgh, county and federal courts, Dan DeBone, Duquesne's director of government relations, said.

Law students and their professors currently provide legal assistance to veterans, senior citizens, minority clients and others in law school classrooms.

The Pittsburgh office of the Neighborhood Legal Services Association received $150,000 to help pay for improvements to its heating, ventilation and air-conditioning systems. The association acts as a "legal emergency room" for the more than 30,000 families and individuals it assisted last year, development director Christine Kirby told the authority.

The office, at 928 Penn Ave., Downtown, handled more than 13,000 cases last year dealing with domestic violence, employment, disability rights, foreclosure avoidance and other areas of civil law.

The authority also approved funds to help Crescent and East Pittsburgh pay for road repairs following landslides.

The $200,000 grant for repairing McCutcheon Way, in Crescent, also opens the way the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to repair an Ohio River lock. McCutcheon Way has been closed since rain washed out a portion of the road in May 2011.

The road closure forced the Corps to cancel a $3.1 million contract to repair its Dashields Lock, because construction equipment could no longer get through.

The project is expected to cost about $275,000, with Crescent already having paid for engineering studies.

Bill Cook, president of Crescent's board of supervisors, estimated that the road project could be completed as early as March. Reopening McCutcheon Road also would restore access to a township park.

Corps officials, facing budget cuts, have said they would not be able to start work on the Dashields Lock right away, but they have pledged to seek new funding.

The other road project provides $200,000 for East Pittsburgh to make repairs to Linden Avenue. That road, which is a bus route and links police and fire departments to the rest of the community, has remained open despite the landslide damage.


Len Barcousky: or 412-263-1159 Len Boselovic contributed to this report.


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