More than a year after McKees Rocks sued ALCOSAN over construction plans relating to its $2 billion Clean Water Plan, the parties have agreed to explore mediation.
The borough initially took the sanitary authority to court in March 2021, alleging plans to use a commercial real estate tract to sink a launch pit for an underwater tunnel would damage the economy and risk residents’ health.
ALCOSAN has continually maintained the plans are not set in stone, and sought to dismiss the case on the basis that the underlying claims as “speculative” takes on future events. But federal judge, J. Nicholas Ranjan, said in a May ruling that the case could continue because the underlying claims were valid.
Ranjan filed a court order on June 28 referring the case to a third-party mediator, scheduling a meeting for July 26.
McKees Rocks Council President Archie Brinza says he’s confident the borough will be awarded its main requests.
“We feel we’re right here and the courts are going to lean in our direction,” Brinza tells Pittsburgh City Paper. “[A]nd hopefully ALCOSAN will have to start being considerate of all the residents.”
“We’re sick of our getting walked over, we’re sick of being taken advantage of because that’s the status quo,” Brinza adds.
The borough’s biggest initial request was to prevent the former Crivelli Chevrolet dealership from being torn down, which officials argued would further stunt its struggling business community.
ALCOSAN bought the property for approximately $2 million in December 2020. Spokesperson Joseph Vallarian declined to disclose details at the time, other than confirming the site would be used to further the Clean Water Plan — a long-term project to reduce untreated sewage outflows into public waterways.
Brinza says ALCOSAN has since assured the borough it would not tear down the building, but he’s now asking that they sell up and return it to the tax rolls.
“Why hold that building hostage for 20 years?” says Brinza, who also says the borough has lost a sizable chunk of annual revenue since the tax-exempt sanitary authority took ownership.
In a response to questions about the mediation order, Vallarian says ALCOSAN’s policy prevents him from discussing details.
“All I can tell you is the Authority is participating in the mediation process as required by the judge in the federal court case,” says Vallarian.