By Jamie Wiggan
The McKees Rocks council upped the ante in its dispute with the Allegheny County Sanitary Authority (ALCOSAN) Dec. 15, by approving legal firm Maiello Brungo and Maiello to file an injunction against the former Crivelli dealership property which the sanitary authority recently bought for $2.05 million.
Council members did not discuss details of their legal tactics while passing the motion, which approved payments up to $20,000 to fund the litigation.
Absent from the meeting, President Paul Krisby said during a later interview the main objective is to prevent the sanitary authority from tearing down the building, which he said would cost millions of additional dollars to rebuild up to code because of its low elevation.
“Once they knock it down no one will ever build there again because it’s in the flood plain,” Krisby said, “We’re trying to protect the borough’s future income.”
Lawrence Maiello, the Pittsburgh-based attorney poised to represent the borough, declined to comment on legal strategy but said in a written statement ALCOSAN’s recent failure to cooperate with the borough had left it “with no alternative but to consider legal action to protect its residents and business community.”
According to accounts detailed in several public letters penned by Krisby, upon hearing of ALCOSAN’s interest in the Crivelli property, borough officials attempted to steer the authority toward several alternative sites. Due to its location within the borough’s main retail corridor and its high tax revenue – which ALCOSAN is exempt from – Krisby and other officials place high value on the property as a strategic location.
Joseph Vallarian, ALCOSAN’s communications director, did not respond to requests for comment on the council's latest move. Previously Vallarian has said the authority has no fixed plans for the site but sees it as a valuable asset to use in its $2 billion Clean Water Plan.
Council passed the motion unanimously Dec. 15, with Councilmembers Archie Brinza, Chas Maritz, Liz Delgado, Sarah Harvey and Joe Mixter all in attendance.
Interviewed later, Delgado, an attorney by trade, now retired, said she supports the action even though she believes it might be a tall order to get a judge to issue an injunction.
“At a bare minimum we’ll get attention, and maybe we’ll get the news screaming ‘Why are you doing this to a small town that can’t afford to defend itself,’” she said.