By Elizabeth Perry
The Allegheny County Sanitary Authority will move forward with its massive sewer system overhaul now that McKees Rocks Borough officials have signed off on the project.
A financial agreement was reached by the borough and ALCOSAN prior to the signing.
Joey Vallarian, director of communications for ALCOSAN, declined to confirm the amount of the settlement between McKees Rocks and ALCOSAN, but did confirm there was one.
“The lawsuit is still active. We’re pleased that we could move the Act 537 Plan forward, a key milestone of our Clean Water Plan,” Vallarian said via email.
McKees Rocks announced the lawsuit against ALCOSAN in March 2021, because borough officials feared the plans ALCOSAN had for the tunnel project and the former Crivelli Chevy Dealership in particular would economically damage McKees Rocks.
The water authority was compelled by a court-mandated consent decree to fix the leaky, overflow-prone sewer system which currently releases 9 billion gallons of raw sewage annually into the confluence of rivers. On Jan. 3, council members signed the agreement a day ahead of the deadline. According to a copy of the agreement received by Gazette 2.0, ALCOSAN “shall timely pay to McKees Rocks the amount it would have been obligated to pay to the borough in real estate taxes.”
They agreed to the $2.05 million property assessment on the former Crivelli site, which was the price the authority paid for the property in November 2020.
This would result in a payment of roughly $20,000 annually for the borough.
According to the new agreement, the payments would continue until 2029, and any year afterward if ALCOSAN has not completed all construction activities on the Crivelli parcel. When the Crivelli Chevy dealership was in the spot, the borough received around $23,000 in taxes annually, Brinza said.
Vallarian confirmed a financial agreement had also been reached with the Sto-Rox School District.
Sto-Rox Business Manager Paul Sroka estimated the portion paid to Sto-Rox would be about $53,000, though the district wasn’t really involved in discussions with the sanitary authority and has gotten no confirmation from ALCOSAN at this point.
Nine municipalities in which sewer alignments were to be dug had to sign the agreement, including the City of Pittsburgh; the boroughs of Aspinwall, Etna, Millvale, Sharpsburg and West Homestead and the townships of O’Hara and Shaler.
McKees Rocks was the last holdout and signed just in time to allow the project to move forward.
With the borough’s sign-off, a tunnel will be constructed under the Ohio River to the mouth of the Chartiers Creek in McKees Rocks from ALCOSAN’s processing plant in Pittsburgh’s Brighton Heights area during the first phase of the three-phase plan. Additional tunnels will be constructed under the Allegheny and Monongahela rivers in phases two and three.
Councilmember Nick Radoycis said the agreement was a step toward resolving the lawsuit between the water authority and the borough.
“I hope and pray it does mean the rest of it is going to wrap itself up,” Mayor David Flick said.
Brinza said he felt the agreement had opened constructive dialogue with the sanitary authority.
“Now we have a relationship where we can talk,” Brinza said.