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Homestead Council upset it didn’t know of plans for historic firehouse

Wednesday, August 15, 2001

By Jim Hosek, Tri-State Sports & News Service

Correction/Clarification: (Published Aug. 22, 2001) Homestead Councilman Marvin Brown was incorrectly identified in the Aug. 15 South as saying he joined Councilwoman Joan DeSimone in being upset to learn from the Post-Gazette about Homestead’s receiving a Hillman Foundation grant toward renovating the borough’s historic firehouse.

Homestead Council expressed displeasure Monday about being kept in the dark about a possible $2 million renovation of the borough’s historic firehouse and possible grants for the project.
Irvin E. Williams, president of Ebony Development, told members he has worked with the volunteer fire department and Pittsburgh History & Landmarks Foundation on refurbishing the building and adding an annex to make it into a municipal center to house the fire department, plus municipal and emergency medical offices.

He said many funding sources have been identified, so the borough would need to contribute only about $200,000; he has applied for grants from sources he declined to identify; and his company would manage the project and assemble a construction team.

“But this is our project, and this is our first meeting with you,” Councilwoman Cheryl Chapman said. “The building belongs to the borough,” added Councilwoman Joan DeSimone. “Council has to make the decisions.”

DeSimone and Councilman Marvin Brown said they were upset to learn from the Post-Gazette about the borough receiving a grant from the Hillman Foundation for the firehouse. They wanted to know if the borough really has that and other grants identified by History & Landmarks — and where the money is.

Joe Hohman of Resource, Development & Management Inc., which oversees the borough’s financially distressed status for the state, was taken aback by Williams’ comments about putting together a construction team. “All the work would have to be bid competitively,” he said.

After hearing everything, Williams said, “Until this council supports this project, this rehabilitation and expansion will go nowhere.”

Council agreed to form a municipal complex committee of DeSimone, Chapman, Evan Baker and William Batts and meet with Williams and the fire department.

If hired by council as project manager, Williams said his fee would be 4 percent of the project, instead of an industry standard of 8 or 10 percent. He encouraged council to act quickly, because, “there’s an urgent need to get this building fixed.”

This article appeared in the Pittsburgh Post Gazette. © Pittsburgh Post Gazette

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