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“Task Force to study uses for Mayview Hospital site”

This article was found in the Thursday, Feb 28, 2008 edition of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.  The website it can be found on is located at … http://www.post-gazette.com/pg/08059/860974-55.stm

Task Force to study uses for Mayview Hospital site
Thursday, February 28, 2008

Once Mayview State Hospital closes, South Fayette Commissioner Deron Gabriel would like to see small shops developed on the 335-acre site on Mayview Road in South Fayette.

He’s not suggesting large anchor tenants, but doctors’ or dentists’ offices, a hardware store or delicatessen — businesses that would, in his view, add to the quality of life as well as the tax base.

But he is just one of 11 members of a task force investigating potential uses of the property.

At the group’s first meeting last Thursday night, Mark Mansfield, Upper St. Clair’s acting manager, spoke in favor of development “complementary to the 470-acre park next door.” The township’s Boyce Mayview Park borders the hospital property on three sides.

Roy Kraynyk, executive director of the Allegheny Land Trust, spoke against intense development, saying it could lead to problems such as landslides and downstream runoff.

Mr. Gabriel said “small, tastefully done development” should not cause environmental problems. He also felt it could complement Upper St. Clair’s adjacent park.

The Mayview property is zoned for low-intensity residential use, primarily single-family homes. While acknowledging that all options are on the table, Mr. Mansfield later questioned the level of support for that kind of development.

“This is a unique piece of property,” he said. “There’s not a lot of uniqueness to creating another subdivision.”

The task force, headed by Sen. John Pippy, R-Moon, and Rep. Nick Kotik, D-Robinson, is expected to meet every four to six weeks in the coming months.

Mr. Kotik said he looked forward to an open discussion of a compromise plan.

While he wants to limit task force membership, Mr. Pippy said he hoped to add others to the panel representing nearby property owners and community groups.

Officials also plan to develop a Web link for public input.

Karen Marshall, a real estate agent for Keller Williams, said the property could be attractive to developers, even though the residential market has slowed and asbestos removal could be expensive.

Mr. Mansfield said removal of asbestos and lead-based paint were an issue, at least in some hospital buildings.

State officials are expected to close Mayview, Allegheny County’s last state hospital for people with mental illnesses, by the end of the year and move most patients into community settings.

Officials noted that similar task forces have been employed before. Their recommendations can be included in legislation typically used by the state to determine disposition of former state hospital property.

Besides the two lawmakers, Mr. Gabriel, Mr. Mansfield and Mr. Kraynyk, other members of the task force are Ford Thompson, of the state Department of Public Welfare; Joe Brimmeier Jr., of the state Department of General Services; Rich Kuppelweiser, Mayview’s chief operating officer; South Fayette Manager Mike Hoy; Emerald VanBuskirk, executive director of the South West Communities Chamber of Commerce; and Chris Goswick, of the Allegheny County Department of Economic Development.

Joe Fahy can be reached at jfahy@post-gazette.com or 412-263-1722.
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