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Duquesne Dissolves Redevelopment Authority

Council hires new police officer

By Tom Leturgey
The Tube City Almanac
April 06, 2023
Posted in: Duquesne News

Duquesne City Council on Tuesday night voted to dissolve its little-used Redevelopment Authority, and is in the process of joining Allegheny County’s larger agency.

By a 4-0 vote, with Councilman Timothy Caldwell absent, city officials went through with previously-discussed plans to eliminate the authority.

Mayor Scott Adams said the city originally planned until a new city manager was hired, but ultimately decided that they needed to get it done.

Solicitor Myron Sainovich said that all of the proper paperwork has been delivered to his office and the next step in the process is to join Allegheny County’s infrastructure agency. A resolution was then adopted, 4-0, for the city to participate in the Redevelopment Authority of Allegheny County’s RAAC Vacant Property Recovery Program.

According to the Allegheny County website, the Vacant Property Recovery Program “acquires vacant, blighted properties and conveys them to applicants who have developed a concrete reuse plan and demonstrate the capacity to implement it. Applicants may include individuals, municipalities, community groups, local businesses and private and nonprofit developers.”

Mayor Adams said he would reach out to Redevelopment Authority Director Jack Exler to see what’s next in the process for a proper agreement.

Braddock Borough has a similar arrangement with the county.

In a related matter, council approved an ordinance “vacating, removal, repair or demolition of any structure dangerous to the health, safety and welfare of city residents and setting forth the procedure and rules for determining dangerous structures.” The motion passed 3-0 with Council Member Aaron Adams abstaining for what he described as personal reasons.

In her public works report, Council Member Elaine Washington said that the city would be hiring two laborers. In fact, six candidates were to interview for the openings on Thursday, April 6. In addition, she said the city hopes to hire two seasonal workers for summer work.

Washington said the city will soon be seeking a new public works director. Current department head Mike Kurta is going to take on a different position with the city, she said following the meeting.

Council by 4-0 ratified the hiring of police Officer Justin Montani, retroactive to March 12. Council had previously approved Montani’s hiring via email, pending completion of training.

Police Chief Tom Shaw said that a police officer civil service test was scheduled for April 14 but that might be moved back because as of the meeting, no one had inquired. According to Mayor Adams, the city is trying to build up a recruitment list of qualified candidates to fill future vacancies.

In his report, Fire Chief Frank Cobb reported on an accident April 1 involving one of the volunteer fire department’s trucks. Cobb said the department was responding to a separate accident in which a vehicle flipped over when the incident occured.

Rumors that the fire department vehicle caused the first accident are “untrue,” Cobb said. The damaged fire truck is currently at a repair shop, he said, and will be out of service temporarily.

Mayor Adams asked Cobb if the department is still able to respond to all calls, and Cobb said yes; the department’s ladder truck is now the front line response vehicle. It’s uncertain when the damaged truck will be operational, he said.

Act 47 Coordinator George Dougherty said the city is making the “final touches on financial policies” required for Duquesne to exit distressed municipality status. On May 19, the state-appointed Act 47 coordinators will decide on whether to rescind the city’s financial “distressed” status. The move is expected to pass. There would then be a public meeting on June 6 at Duquesne city hall to receive public comment, Dougherty said.

“Then we’d be off and running to exit Act 47,” he said. Another public meeting would be held July 18. If all goes well, the city could be out of the distressed category, Dougherty said.

Tom Leturgey is a freelance writer based in Pittsburgh and the editor of KSWA Digest, the online news and features home of the Keystone State Wrestling Alliance. His work also appears in The Valley Mirror and other publications.

Originally published April 06, 2023.

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