BY EDITORIAL BOARD
The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette ran a story on May 6 entitled “Former Hazelwood coke works being considered for green manufacturing plant.”
That would be the same green manufacturing plant featured in last issue’s Gazette 2.0 front-page feature, where locally raised developer Craig Rippole, of Trinity Development, and Hollywood movie star Michael Keaton are joining forces to bring in the operation, and its 300 jobs, to make use of deserted brownfield land scarred by industrial pollution here in the Pittsburgh region.
In the P/G article, Rippole is quoted as saying the Hazelwood site is under consideration, and he adds it would be a “perfect fit.” “There are a lot of good sites in Western Pennsylvania, but, certainly, Hazelwood Green, 19, it’s unique. It clearly has distinguished itself.”
Hazelwood certainly needs economic revival, and we hope their town finds it and makes great gains, but another site — one that’s been standing at the head of the line for Trinity’s promised economic growth locally — has distinguished itself for development and jobs, as well, here in McKees Rocks.
In his comments to Gazette 2.0, Rippole acknowledged this site — the reclaimed Pittsburgh and Lake Erie brownfield — is in the running, saying “it certainly hits the profile.”
The former P&LE property is a brownfield reclamation a decade in the making, already cleaned up by the developer — also Trinity — and helped on by taxpayer money and business tax breaks. It’s nearly empty now, only housing one business, a Speedway fueling station that employs about 15 people.
The case for new development and job creation at the shovel-ready land tract
spanning parts of Stowe Township and McKees Rocks shouldn’t need to be made at all at this juncture.
It’s been made, in several iterations, by Trinity Development themselves over the years as they sought and received local government support, help from private development entities, and taxpayer-funded grants and loans to help them acquire and repurpose the site.
The land sits mostly fallow now, with green grass and gray blacktop replacing the ugly rust and industrial filth left in the aftermath of the steel and railroad industries’ heyday.
We appreciate that the land isn’t the poisoned soil and dangerous refuse that it was for years, and Trinity did a fine job of scraping the topsoil, hauling it off and cleaning the site.
They also did a fine job of laying out their plans for jobs – up to 1,200 of them in a mixed-use industrial/office complex in the first iteration.
The case for new development and job creation at the shovel-ready land tract spanning parts of Stowe Township and McKees Rocks shouldn’t need to be made at all at this juncture.
With the unexpected arrival of the CSX intermodal facility in 2017, these numbers were played down somewhat, but the outlook remained hopeful for an impoverished town.
While the short-lived terminal remained in the picture, plans called for establishing the site as a transportation and logistics hub, which helped to lure the Speedway with its potential diesel sales for hundreds of semi-trucks throughout the week.
After just three years, the $60 million CSX facility closed last year and now sits idle. New lessors Shell have declined to discuss how they plan to use it. The picture looks bleak.
Now any of those former ideas, or similar, would do.
What won’t do is Trinity just moving on to another brownfield on the other side of the city, taking the promised jobs that engendered so much goodwill for their work in McKees Rocks to another community and leaving a wide swath of still underused land in its wake.
We know they can pitch a vision, and we’d welcome one. Our residents need to see this actualized in pay stubs and growth for our towns.
An effort should be made to reach out to Amazon, Google, FedEx and all these companies that seem to be situating lots of jobs throughout the region in new facilities. Pointing out that their efforts would be helping many families who’ve suffered generational poverty would certainly catch ears in this corporately enlightened age.
Certainly, however, a portion of the land should house Keaton and Trinity’s new Nexii Building Solutions green manufacturing plant, with its 300 jobs. A decade of support and help for Trinity, built on their own yet-to-be-fulfilled promises, deserves it.