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Uses for South Park Fairgrounds Offered

By Matthew Santoni
Thursday, September 30, 2010

Allegheny County residents Wednesday night offered their ideas for revitalizing the rundown fairgrounds in South Park as part of the county’s push to reuse or redevelop it.

More than 100 people attended the meeting in the Museum Building to discuss how they’d like to see the 80-acre site made more attractive and useful, with ideas ranging from converting buildings into indoor sports arenas to tunneling under a hill so pedestrians can reach Port Authority’s nearby light-rail line.

The county has retained Homestead-based GAI Consultants Inc. to hold public hearings, focus groups and online surveys to gather ideas with the hope that the county can do more with its limited money and manpower, said sustainability manager Jeaneen Zappa.

The fairgrounds still hosts community days and other events but hasn’t been the site of a county fair since the late 1970s.

During World War II, German and Italian prisoners of war were temporarily housed in some of the buildings, said Robert Bastianini, a member of the South Park Township Historical Society.

“I would like to see some kind of fair come back,” he said. “These buildings have stood empty almost all year round.”

Bastianini also asked that one of the buildings be donated to the historical society for use as an office and museum.

Representatives of the Allegheny County Martial Arts Center, a nonprofit which has rented, renovated and maintained one of the former exhibit buildings since 1986, would like to see other organizations given a chance to lease sections of the buildings as studios, practice spaces or storefronts, said senior martial arts instructor Rick Sbuscio.

“These clubs are resources,” said Jeff Danchik, director of the Mon Valley Express Drum and Bugle Corps, another long-term tenant of one of the buildings. “We fix up the building, and that’s our rent … but there isn’t any mechanism in place for these groups to go from an idea to getting money and building something.”

Another public hearing will be held in November, and a final report is expected by mid-December. County residents can fill out an online survey at

Pittsburgh History & Landmarks Foundation

100 West Station Square Drive, Suite 450

Pittsburgh, PA 15219

Phone: 412-471-5808  |  Fax: 412-471-1633