By Jamie Wiggan
According to Council President Archie Brinza, ALCOSAN no longer intends to raze a former car dealership in McKees Rocks to use as a staging area for a long-term construction project.
Speaking during a council meeting April 12, Brinza said representatives from the county sanitary authority had recently indicated they now intend to establish the staging area in a different location in the borough’s “Bottoms” neighborhood. Borough officials have vocally opposed the purported plans for the former Crivelli car dealership, filing a civil lawsuit against it last April.
The sanitary authority has not yet publicly disclosed its plans for the property – bought in late 2020 for approximately $2 million – other than to say it fits into its sweeping infrastructure upgrades known as the Clean Water Plan. Underlying this plan is a federal court order requiring ALCOSAN to reduce the amount of untreated sewage that enters local watersheds during periods of heavy rain.
While the suit has stalled in federal court without resolution, Brinza said ALCOSAN officials were voluntarily cooperating with McKees Rocks to find an alternative. He said a site near the borough’s pump station on Robb Street is currently under consideration.
Meanwhile, Brinza announced during the same meeting that property owners around the town had received letters from ALCOSAN setting in motion possible eminent domain proceedings.
“They said they were gonna look at the properties, and possible eminent domain,” Brinza said, adding that 60 properties – including portions of the former P&LE Brownfield site and the Shoppes at Chartiers Crossing – were targeted in the letters.
A copy of one letter obtained later states the sanitary authority intends to survey the property in question “as part of its implementation of a construction project known as the Clean Water Plan.”
“ALCOSAN’s employees, and its consultants or contractors will need to enter your land… to conduct surveys, appraisals, engineering studies, soil exploration, or tests and/or soundings to gather information.”
The letter also clarifies that the property will not necessarily be condemned or acquired by the authority at this stage.
Responding to Brinza during the meeting, Borough Solicitor Lee Decker also emphasized acquisition steps will not necessarily follow the letters.
“I don’t know if they’re going to go forward with eminent domain proceedings just yet,” he said.
“They did send out letters to these property owners saying they were going to gain access to those properties and perform a survey to see if they needed those properties.”
Pennsylvania’s eminent domain codes permit municipal authorities to inspect or survey properties to determine whether they intend to later obtain them. The next formal step would be to issue a “Declaration of Taking.”
Joey Vallarian, ALCOSAN’s communications director, did not respond to questions about his organization’s plans either for the former dealership lot or the condemnation proceedings.