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Support sought for ‘pure’ Dormont park

Pittsburgh Tribune ReviewBy Rick Wills
Friday, March 2, 2007

Opponents of opening Dormont Park and its landmark 1920s-era pool to private developers will stage a rally Sunday amid fears that borough officials’ consideration of development is undermining efforts to raise money for pool restoration.
“It’s very hard to raise funds when people think the pool might be bulldozed next year,” John Maggio, president of Friends of the Dormont Pool, said Thursday. “Council is being disingenuous and sending mixed messages.”

One developer would renovate the borough’s landmark 87-year-old pool in exchange for the ability to do townhouse and retail development in the park. The other would build a smaller pool and a community center in exchange for retail development in the park.

The rally will be at 2 p.m. in the pool’s parking lot at Banksville Road and Dormont Avenue.

So far, the group has raised about $30,000 for refurbishing the pool, Maggio said.

Since last year, the borough has received $287,000 from the state and Allegheny County, money Maggio says could be in jeopardy if the park is opened to development.

Raising suspicions

The council’s next voting meeting is at 7:30 p.m. Monday in the borough building, 1444 Hillsdale Ave. Borough Manager George Zboyovsky said there are no plans to vote immediately on development proposals.

Still, others are wary of the council’s intentions.

“They have been deceptive every step of the way, so we are very suspicious about what council plans,” said Gary Young, chairman of the Dormont Republican Party. He said he plans to file a complaint with the state Attorney General’s Office about borough officials’ dealings with developers Cozza Enterprises Inc., of Squirrel Hill, and JRA Development Inc., of Lawrenceville.

“The council did not follow any kind of process here,” said Young, who faults borough officials for meeting privately with developers and failing to take competitive bids for the project.

The two developers, who made public presentations last month, previously made several presentations to Dormont Mayor Thomas Lloyd, council President Linda Kitchen and Zboyovsky. Other council members said they did not know about the private meetings.

Defending the actions

Thomas Ayoob, the borough’s solicitor, said that the meetings were not improper and no bids have been taken.

“There have been no secret meetings, and no bids have been made or solicited,” he said. “And the general public knows about the two proposals.”

Young, Councilwoman Ann Conlin and others question Ayoob’s representation of Cozza in another development project.

“This just looks awful, whether it’s legal or not. The solicitor should have the best interest of borough, council and citizens at heart, which he does not,” Conlin said.

Ayoob said there would be no conflict unless Cozza’s proposal is picked.

“I have offered no legal advice to borough or Mr. Cozza on this matter,” Ayoob said. “It’s an attempt to raise issues where there are none.”

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

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