UPDATED: Jan. 23 Meeting Set to Discuss Selling WH Administration Building

Opinions are divided on whether to retain the Greensburg Pike building or sell it to a developer and move administrators to new, leased offices in Braddock.

Editor's Note: This story has been updated to reflect the location of next week's meeting and information about residents speaking on the issue.

Woodland Hills School Board will hold a special meeting at 7 p.m. Wednesday, Jan. 23, to discuss a proposal to sell the administration building in Churchill and move district administrators to new, leased offices in Braddock.

The meeting will be held in the Woodland Hills High School auditorium. To register to speak, call and/or email Tomeka Billingsley at 412-731-1300, ext. 0124 or billto@whsd.net. This is now being billed as a special legislative meeting where the board has the ability to vote on the sale and move to Braddock.

The board decided to postpone voting on the sale Wednesday night after hearing a wide difference of opinion among both residents and school board members—and finding there was misinformation circulating about the proposal.

TREK Development Group of Pittsburgh has offered to buy the administration building at 2430 Greensburg Pike for $625,000. The group would raze the former Churchill Elementary School building and construct a senior citizen apartment building with about 48 units.

TREK is also offering to lease office space to the school district in a new building being constructed on the site of the former UPMC Braddock Hospital. In a letter to the board dated Jan. 15, TREK estimated the total of savings and revenue to the school district over the next 10 years would be $2,036,976.

Currently, the district has no presence in the Braddock community.

Though a motion to approve a sales agreement with TREK was on Wednesday's agenda, school board President Regis Driscoll noted that board members did not yet have the agreement in front of them.

Board members were split on whether to move ahead with the sale. A motion to retain the building was rejected by a 5-3 vote.

Board member Bob Tomasic said the building, which is adjacent to the high school campus, should be kept for future use by the district. Board member Tara Reis said the building is an asset while renting space is a liability. Holding on to the building will save the district from trying to figure out how to pay rent on office space five years from now, she said.

Board member Fred Kuhn said he wanted more information available for the public—and board members Marilyn Messina and Colleen Filiak expressed concerns about the misinformation circulating about the sale.

Messina continued that she is concerned about future revenue for the district—and said that the district will not be getting more money from the state. She pointed out mold issues and leaks in the administration building.

Messina also cautioned the board that their decision on this issue could "divide this district."

Dolores Patterson, a former Churchill Area School Board member, expressed concern about a conflict of interest if the board sells to TREK and then leases from the developer. Wilkins Township Board of Commissioners President Sylvia Martinelli, a member of the district's Ad Hoc Committee, said it was a waste of committee members' time to reject their recommendation to retain the building.

But the plan got support from two Mon Valley Initiative representatives, along with two Braddock officials.

"Businesses, investors and developers from around the country are interested in Braddock," said Tina Doose, Braddock Council president.

She said locating the administrative offices there to a state-of-the-art building would "speak volumes to the community." Mayor John Fetterman added that the offices would be directly across from the police department, offering good security.

"Please, we're asking for you to believe in Braddock," Fetterman said.

Check back with Patch for more details about the proposed sale prior to Wednesday's meeting.

What do you think about selling the administration building and the district leasing office space in Braddock? Let us know in the comments section.


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Adam Schaible January 22, 2013 at 04:36 AM
As explained at last week's meeting -- I was there -- it was mentioned that there are a handful of ways to proceed for the sale of the property. The method currently being used, where Trek approached the school board and made an offer, was at Trek's initiative. It wasn't an open bidding process because if the vote continues for the sale of the building and land, the proceedings go before a judge with an open session for further public commentary. In short, from what I've seen, nothing's being done behind the public's back or in an illegal manner. Hope that helps!
Paul Gamrat January 23, 2013 at 02:07 PM
If the President of the Braddock Council wants to "speak volumes of the community" then Braddock should intice TREK to build their 48 unit building in Braddock. This move could attract a grocery store and other businesses which the senior citizens could walk to. There are no stores within walking distance of this proposed building. Then we could really "believe in Braddock". The senior citizens would be safe located near the Braddock Police Station. In my opinion Braddock needs the development more that the small area in Churchill. I remember the days when Braddock was a busy business community with stores all along the Avenue. I still travel through Braddock and can see that there is plenty of land to for TREK to develope. I also believe that TREK has their own personal motives for buying the Greensburg Pike porperty as another comment suggested. That property belongs to the the Woodland Hills School District and should stay in our hands for our future use. That $625,000 won't go very far. TREK will get that back after a few years of renting to the administration. I urge our school board members to make a wise decisioin based on future use and growth of our district. Sell that building and land and we will be searching for land in the future and the price will be much higher. The building on Greensburg Pike could easily become "state of the art" . That should not be a draw. My vote is to keep the building and the land!
Paul Gamrat January 23, 2013 at 04:23 PM
...sorry entice.
LHughes February 01, 2013 at 01:23 PM
Where is the "Braddock Mayor is hunting joggers" story?
LHughes February 01, 2013 at 01:24 PM
Why is patch hiding this story?


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