Updated: Jun 25
By Elizabeth Perry
Coraopolis Mayor Michael Dixon criticized council members for voting unanimously to demolish the Paul Triko Memorial Gazebo during a workshop meeting.
During the June 14 council meeting, Dixon said the June 7 workshop vote to “destroy our town’s landmark” moved forward even after the Coraopolis Development Corporation and Age Friendly Pittsburgh had offered to financially assist with repairs to the structure.
“(The vote) was taken during a meeting that unfortunately doesn’t have public comment sections in it and is not very well attended either. So to that effect the public really had no say into what their preference would have been,” he said.
The mayor said at that point it was “too little, too late.”
Dixon went on to read a statement he said came from resident Debbie Barone Rambo, in which she said, “I’m truthfully, almost at a loss for words concerning the ignorance, disrespect and just plain rudeness of the Coraopolis Council and management.”
Her father, former mayor Bob Barone Sr. helped to build the gazebo with one of Barone-Rambo’s brothers, and she was upset she hadn’t been consulted about the demolition, Dixon said.
“My dad and Mr. Triko wanted to leave a legacy for Coraopolis and our families, so what does that crazy council do? They stomp and destroy that legacy which served as the heart of the town’s events and celebrations since 1999,” Dixon read.
In 2000, funds to build the 5th Avenue gazebo were donated by the Triko family of Triko Holdings Inc. in honor of their late father Paul Triko.
Dixon concluded the statement with an apology on behalf of himself to the residents of Coraopolis. None of the council members present discussed the decision or responded to Dixon’s statement.
Council members voted to demolish the gazebo because the floor needed to be replaced, and there was someone sleeping in the structure.
“What’s going to stop someone from going down there and making a bedroom,” Councilman Rudy Bolea said.
In May, Director of Penn State Center Pittsburgh Tom Bartnik gave a presentation to the public about alternative options to the space should the gazebo come down. Bartnik had recommended seeking a grant from TreeVitalize in order to plant trees around the border of the parking lot. Council member and Shade Tree Commissioner Edward Pitassi said after consulting with the organization, they nixed the idea of planting trees because of the proximity to the blacktop.
Bartnik also suggested covered seating areas, which is still under consideration to replace the gazebo.
Councilman Robb Cardiman made the motion to remove the gazebo from the parking lot where it’s been for the past 23 years.
As of the June 7 workshop meeting, council members could not put a definitive time to when the demolition would take place.
“As soon as the public works department can fit into their schedule,” Cardiman said.
At the same workshop meeting, the council members unanimously agreed to purchase 20 covered garbage cans through COSTARS at a price of $2,000 each.
Pitassi said business owner Brian Diggins had offered to pay for half of the cans in order to improve the appearance of the business district.
Council members agreed the purchase was sound, even without Diggins' potential contribution.