Pitcher Park on Dormont agenda
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Dormont Council will address the controversial Pitcher Park at its voting meeting next week, though the project's future is still nebulous.
More than 60 people gathered at council's new venue at the Dormont Recreation Center for a Monday night discussion session, where council proposed several options related to the multiuse skate park, first proposed 31/2 years ago.
"We've gotten ourselves into a horrible conundrum that we've got to find a way out of," said Council President Bill McCartney.
Mary Pitcher of Scott, Pitcher Park Foundation president, planned to donate the park in memory of her two sons, who drowned during a camping trip in 2008 and enjoyed BMX biking and skate parks in their youth.
Council could vote next week to advertise an ordinance to ratify the 2010 council motion approving the multiuse park and the memorandum of understanding signed a year later.
Borough solicitor Deron Gabriel provided a legal opinion earlier this month that said the motion and subsequent contract were not binding because they were not put forth in the form of an ordinance. He also wrote that the borough would likely not be responsible for any out-of-pocket expenses the foundation has incurred this far.
But Councilwoman Laurie Malka and at least one resident suggested the borough seek a third-party legal opinion, as Mr. Gabriel submitted his resignation via email Feb. 6. He remains in his post until a replacement is hired.
Ms. Pitcher maintained the borough is in breach of contract. Mr. McCartney ordered a halt to drilling for the park -- a process that detects material underneath a proposed building site -- earlier this month because further discussion and clearer engineering plans are necessary, he said.
Councilwoman Joan Hodson also called for creation of a policy to outline steps in making a donation to the borough. Pitcher Park planners offered the addition as a gift and all project funds were to come from donations.
"We should encourage gifts," but there should clear steps and no favoritism, she said.
Mr. McCartney also suggested a group of six to 10 Dormont residents -- but "no lightening rod people" -- meet on a regular basis to discuss bylaws and alternatives, which they would present to the Pitcher Park Foundation.
Dormont's 1999 master plan may be a useful guide to develop such alternatives, he said.
Ms. Hodson listed the suggestions in the park plan, based on resident surveys, which include sand volleyball courts, batting cages, paved trails and benches, an amphitheater, a children's play area, basketball courts, a skate park, skateboard ramps and more.
Some questioned whether those options, including the skate park, were among the top-favored ideas. Ms. Malka said it's important to remember the people answering the surveys did not likely represent the people who would actually use the park.
At various points during the meeting, Mr. McCartney tried to put things in perspective, citing global conflicts including reconciliation efforts that ended Apartheid in South Africa.
"If South Africa can do that, certainly we owe it to ourselves to try" to work out problems with the proposed park, he said.
The subject of polling Dormont residents on Pitcher Park also came up Monday night. Asked why the borough wouldn't publish a survey in the Dormont newsletter, Mr. McCartney said, "Because I would rather have an unbiased scientific poll that can't be jimmied with."
In other news, Mayor Thomas Lloyd did not attend Monday's meeting because he was in the hospital, Mr. McCartney said.
Council will hold its regular business meeting at 7 p.m. Monday at the recreation center, 1801 Dormont Ave.
First Published March 1, 2012 5:28 am