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   GreeneSpeak Publications, LLC, P.O. Box 1003, Waynesburg, PA 15370
                             Serving Greene & Washington Counties, PA 
               Contact Editor/Publisher Cindy Bailey:  cindy@greenespeak.com or 724-344-7980
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MAY 2015 GreeneSpeak is going fast, but there are still a few around. Pick one up so you won't miss our stories our coverage on the lack of public support fo local animal rescues and 2 lawsuits in southeastern Greene against public officials who got too big for their britches! And much more!

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CLICK HERE FOR OUR WAYNESBURG UNIVERSITY SPECIAL REPORT

CLICK HERE FOR WAYNESBURG UNIVERSITY PROPERTY LIST 2014

[Posted Aug. 15, 2014] Waynesburg University owns 25% of Waynesburg Borough's properites, most of which are tax exempt. Is it any wonder they walk around with a BIG STICK? See the details below for information provided by the Greene Co. Assessment Office.

Click here to see Waynesburg University's Borough Properties 2014

THE DARKNESS HATES THE LIGHT. Waynesburg University continues to refuse any contact with GreeneSpeak and although it's against the law, they apparently aren't going to allow me to review their documents or respond to me. So I'm tired of waiting. I will therefore be posting their 990s for the LAST DECADE for your review. I will make my own conclusions based on what's here because they are afraid of me. I will be pulling out the most pertinent things I see and commenting on the GreeneSpeak Facebook Page. I welcome your own comments here, but especially on Facebook. Again, I will caution commenters to stay professional and I can't allow personal attacks on me or anyone else. You can certainly disagree, but don't accuse me of lies or "no evidence" as one WU professor did. There's plenty of evidence here, pal!  Anyway the 2012 Form 990 is here:

Click to see Waynesburg University 2012 Form 990

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WAYNESBURG COLLEGE 'COMPLIED WITH OBLIGATIONS' IN SKYSCRAPER MATTER

By Cindy Bailey GreeneSpeak Editor/Publisher

Waynesburg Borough Council met July 15th before a packed house. Attending were council president Chuck Berryhill, members Mark Fischer, Dar Fitch, Patrick Haught, Bryan Johnston, Larry Marshall, Eric Rush, Miles Davin, Mayor Duncan Berryman, and solicitor Linda Chambers, as well as about 40 citizens, with about a dozen watching the proceedings from the front office.

Most of the citizens attended in regard to the Skyscraper demolition, which is still in progress.

During Public the 90-minute public comment period, property owner Mary Beth Pastorius read a lengthy letter describing her concerns about this "terrible loss....Council, you could have prevented it."

 She said "pressure from Waynesburg University" caused them to ignore their own zoning ordinance, which calls for historic preservation and retaining the character of the town.

Demolition of the building affects the tax base, and economic revitalization because, "vacant lots don't attract business," she said.

   She also expressed concerns about secrecy. "You did not inform the public....There was no public input," she said, adding that two days prior to demolition, the borough manager told her  he had no knowledge of what was going on. "And I believe him," she said.

A number of potential investors turned away from the Skyscraper Pastorius said, when they were told, “You can’t have it. The university wants it.”

Her recommendations included adopting an active demolition ordinance, a master plan, more open communication via e-mail, and requesting Act 13 funds from the county to create a small grant program for property and business owners in the downtown.

Berryhill said the demolition ordinance sounded like a good idea. 

Robert Linn, who identified himself as a "Pittsburgh attorney" representing Waynesburg University, responded that the college "complied with its legal obligations,” adding that there was no secrecy or "undue influence" from the college.

Resident Paul Clutter accused council of "kissing up" to the college instead of caring for the people of the town.

"We can't stop people from buying property," Chambers said.

 

Fischer said the building had been discussed when then-owner John McNay presented plans for renovation, but, “but Waynesburg University had concerns and I was skeptical….I’m friends with (college president) Doug Lee. I consider him a good friend. We were in the fire department together….The university was dubious and said ‘We’re going to step in and buy this.’”

 

Resident Jeff McCracken said people should not forget that the college fixed up the armory.

 

Fitch said the Skyscraper was dangerous.

 

Chambers asked Linn if the university would be making the area safe for the Rain Day Festival. Linn said he would relay the message.

 

The site has been unsecured and unsupervised since the demolition began June 23. The sidewalk and nearest traffic lane have been open since the morning of June 24, even during active demolition.

 

Marshall said nearly 50 blighted properties were recently identified in the area and when the borough tries to cite them, “people complain.” He said a code enforcement officer a few years ago who was getting things done was fired by council because of it.

 

Sally Cameron who owns the Fashion Shop and the theater, said she has concerns about the empty lot where Lam’s Garden formerly operated. “Parks don’t drive the economy,” she said, adding that the town needs foot traffic. “Knocking buildings down without a plan” leads to less retail businesses, she said.

 

Fischer pointed out that the borough has received a state grant for a comprehensive plan, noting that “there will be a lot of opportunities for input.”

 

Johnston said the college does a lot of good.

 

Karen Calvert of the former Our Glass Creations said, “We need more retail, but there are no buildings.” She asked why there is no sign on the Interstate highway referring to the town’s historic district. A lengthy discussion ensued with Chambers offering to check on this.

 

Pastorius told council she was “thrilled” that the lengthy conversation about historic preservation had taken place. "What happens in the downtown affects everybody," she said.

##

You can download the Waynesburg University Demolition Permit and associated documents for the Skycraper here:

Download the Waynesburg University Demo Permit & Documentation

[POSTED JUNE 19, 2014 @ 2:40 p.m.]

Saving the People's Bank: Just tell the university 'NO' 

By Cindy Bailey, GreeneSpeak Editor/Publisher 

WAYNESBURG–Mary Beth Pastorius, President of Patorius Historic Properties of Waynesburg, appealed to the Greene County Commissioners this morning (June 19) for their help in saving the People's Bank. Now owned by Waynesburg University, the historic but controversial building is apparently set for demolition in the near future.

   Pastorius, who recently restored the Ganiear House and is in the process of restoring the Morgan Building, both located on High St., read a prepared letter (attached at the end of this story). Pastorius and her late husband Tom became well known in the region for founding the Penn Brewery, which is located in the former Eberhardt and Ober Brewery. They received assistance from the Pittsburgh History and Landmarks Foundation to restore that building. The Penn Brewery, still a popular attraction, opened in 1989 and the couple operated it until 2010. Tom passed away in 2012.

   In her letter this morning, Pastorius said she came to the commissioners for help in halting the demolition because Waynesburg Council does not meet for three weeks, and time is running out. "You are our last defense to save it," she said.

   Present at the meeting were commissioners Chuck Morris and Archie Trader, along with chief clerk Jeff Marshall, solicitor Cheryl Cowan, and about a dozen audience members.  

   Commissioner Blair Zimmerman, who was absent due to family matters, earlier told GreeneSpeak that the county had received a letter that demolition of the Skyscraper was to begin June 16th. Zimmerman has been a vocal supporter of saving the historic structure, which was recently declared structurally sound. It has a steel frame and cement flooring throughout. About three weeks ago most of the window glass was removed, apparently without notifying borough officials.

   This morning the commissioners said they have no idea what the status of the project is now, as they have not been informed. 

   Noting that "the public has been excluded from the process," Pastorius added that the "borough has not informed its citizens about the application for demolition, nor given us a forum for public comment." Further, she said, council has "abdicated basic responsibility" for preservation of the Skyscraper, because they have no master plan for the town, nor a planning commission. 

   "You, the county must step in and protect your county seat," she said, because the university has had "undue influence for too long on too many issues" resulting in a "severe lack of balance of power in the borough." She said she is disappointed that the college won't work "openly and fairly" with the community. "If allowed to continue, this situation will be the death of the town," she said.                                                            

   Among the actions she asked the commissioners to consider are: sending a letter to the college president and trustees asking them to halt demolition; instructing the county planning commission to begin reviewing all major developments in the borough; adding language to the county comprehensive plan that protects Waynesburg's historic assets; investigating possible conflicts of interest by council members who are employed by the college; earmarking a portion of Act 13 funds to help downtown property owners with historic preservation; asking the state Historical and Museum Commission to send the college a letter, reminding them that the downtown is listed on the Historic Register and therefore historic properties in that district are subject to certain restrictions. The Skyscraper is considered a "contributing building" in the Historic District, she said. [See lists of trustees and Waynesburg officials below this story].

Concluding, Pastorius said, "It's time to draw a line in the sand, and tell the University 'NO.'"

David Farkas of Pittsburgh History and Landmarks Foundation, also spoke in support of preserving Waynesburg's historic properties, noting, "We've been exploring ways to foster preservation here." He said there are a number of ways to procure funds for this purpose.

   Waynesburg resident Lisa Schwartz, who along with her husband, has restored two historic homes in town, also voiced her support for preserving the building. 

   When the public comments were finished, Morris said, "We are not a player in this....and I don't know if we have any standing," adding that the commissioners had supported John McNay's recent efforts to renovate the building by signing a lease for the proposed parking lot. Morris assured Pastorius that the commissioners would discuss the matter.

   Trader agreed that the commissioners do support preservation of properties, noting that the county is trying to obtain the building where Jay Gardner had operated Waynesburg Floral, but "there are liens on that property," he said. 

   Morris added that the commissioners had met with councilman Mark Fischer (the unsuccessful Republican candidate who ran against now-disgraced former state representative Bill DeWeese) to work out a master plan for the town. The county has offered technical assistance, Morris said, but no work has been done on the plan to date.

   Trader pointed out that money has to be doled out to all parts of the county. "There is only so much money to go around for these projects," he said.

   Pastorius responded, "But Waynesburg is the county seat, a symbol of what's happening economically in the whole county." 

 

[Reader comments are welcome. See below or you can comment on the GreeneSpeak Facebook Page. If you want to be published, however, you must BE NICE.]

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[POSTED JUNE 17, 2014]

LETTER TO THE GREENESPEAK EDITOR 

DEMOLITION IS NOT PROGRESS

   Waynesburg University has applied for a demolition permit to destroy Peoples Bank Building, Waynesburg’s skyscraper.   Issuance of the permit is imminent.

   I write to plead with Waynesburg Borough Council and the leadership of Waynesburg University to stop this madness and begin engaging in open, cooperative town-and-gown relations with the wider business community to develop a plan for adaptive reuse of Peoples Bank.  Tearing down this structurally sound, modern steel frame building makes no sense, especially when the University has not been required to reveal its plans for the site. The only hint is in the 2008 Design Plan that they developed,  which shows an open festival place on the lot. Is this the best and highest use of this key piece of land in the middle of the town?   Will it contribute to downtown economic development?  Will it add to the tax base?

   Furthermore, demolition is the opposite of the green building principles now practiced by so many universities and businesses who understand that the greenest building is the one already built.  

   Four years ago, I went through this building with, among others, architect Kn Kulak and structural engineer Frank Avbel .  They assessed the building to be structurally sound.    There’s solid concrete between each floor of the steel frame and the exterior bricks and mortar are in good condition.   The front façade is the famous Hummelstown brownstone from Dauphin County, PA, the same stone used throughout the brownstone districts of New York and other East Coast cities.  

   Inside, there is marble practically everywhere, including the grand banking room on the first floor, all flights of the staircase (with ornamental iron railing) and restrooms on each floor.  Also remaining are the two Otis Elevators that old timers like me remember.  There’s a handsome decorative tile floor in the entrance foyer.  All of this will bite the dust when the wrecking ball strikes.  For what, another vacant lot in the middle of town?

   First Federal, First National and Margaret Bell Miller School were built a few years after Peoples Bank by three different, prestigious New York City architectural firms.  Although I have not yet discovered the architect of Peoples Bank, I’m sure it was a good one, probably from New York.  Furthermore, Peoples Bank is a contributing building in the Waynesburg District of the National Register of Historic Sites, and as such should be protected.

   Waynesburg University has implied that the building is unsafe because there were some broken windows on the upper floors.  But a few broken windows or falling bricks do not make a building structurally deficient. The Borough could have easily solved this problem by requiring the owner to board the windows and maintain the roof.      

   It’s been claimed that no one is interested in rehabbing this building. That’s simply not true.  I know two reputable developers who were quite interested in this building two years ago but were told by a borough official, “Hands off.  The University wants it.”  This is in addition to the plans proposed last fall by John McNay and Marty Padezanin.  Pittsburgh History & Landmarks Foundation continues to be interested as well. 

   Quite frankly, Peoples Bank has not been given a fair chance at adaptive reuse.  Because the Borough has no Master Development Plan and no Planning Commission, citizens have not been informed nor given a chance to express their opinions about downtown developments (such as this demolition) that will directly impact their pocketbooks and quality of life. Until a Master Plan and Planning Commission are created, the Borough will continue to be unduly influenced by the University which does have a plan.   Sadly, their plan appears to be to take over the downtown.  Then what will they do with it because the tax base will be gone?

   There should be no such thing as a “throw away building,” particularly not a building of the caliber of Peoples Bank.  With an existing dormitory next door, it makes perfect sense for Waynesburg University to convert this building to housing for seniors or graduate students.  Or, they could enter into a public-private partnership to explore other options for adaptive re-use such as housing or offices for the growing energy industry. There’s a severe housing shortage in Waynesburg and Greene County that this building could begin to relieve.  Any of these options would be a boost to downtown development and build the tax base.  

   It is in the best interest of both the Town of Waynesburg and Waynesburg University to save this building.

Mary Beth Pastorius, Waynesburg

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