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Dormont rejects developing park site

Pittsburgh Tribune ReviewBy Rick Wills
Wednesday, March 7, 2007

Some Dormont residents and borough officials said Tuesday they’re happy that plans were scrapped for commercial development on land occupied by the community’s park and pool.
“I am pleased to have this behind us,” said John Maggio, president of Friends of Dormont Pool, a group formed last year to raise money to repair the 87-year-old landmark.

“The people overwhelmingly did not want development in their park,” Maggio said. “This was about putting a strip mall in a park that has the whole history of our community in it.”

Late Monday, borough council voted unexpectedly and unanimously to end consideration of two proposals in which developers would have paid for community recreational facilities in exchange for commercial development rights.

One developer offered to renovate Dormont Pool in exchange for putting townhouses and retail space in the park. Another offered to build a smaller pool and a community center in exchange for retail development in the park.

Mayor Thomas Lloyd urged council to put the matter to rest Monday.

“I did not want this hanging over us,” Lloyd said yesterday. “There has been too much animosity over this issue, so hopefully, this will no longer be the focus of every council meeting.”

Since January, when residents learned that Lloyd, borough manager George Zboyovsky and council President Linda Kitchen had been meeting with developers interested in the park land, opponents of such projects have packed council meetings.

Last month, Craig Cozza of Cozza Enterprises Inc., of Squirrel Hill, presented his plan, which included retail development on the Dormont Pool site. Jim Aiello of JRA Development Inc., of Lawrenceville, proposed restoring the pool and using land elsewhere in the park for residential and retail purposes.

Neither responded to messages left yesterday.

The vote comes after a year of public agitation over the future of the aging 1.85-acre pool, which needs extensive repair work. Friends of Dormont Pool has raised about $30,000 to pay for the work, estimated to cost $1 million.

Ending discussion about development doesn’t end discussion about how to fix the pool, said Councilwoman Ann Conlin, who opposed commercial development in the park.

Later this month, council members will meet with representatives of Wade Associates Inc., a Harrisburg pool consulting firm the borough hired to study restoration options, she said.

Rick Wills can be reached at or (724) 779-7123.

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