Donora sells former bank building to business owners

Morgan Cushey
Observer Reporter

Amid opposition from a few community members, Donora Council voted unanimously Thursday to approve a bid of $31,000 for the sale of the former Community Bank building at 600 Meldon Ave.

The bid was made by Daniel and Angela Gorman of Black Diamond, who are small business owners.

Daniel Gorman is a licensed professional counselor and Angela Gorman is a training consultant specializing in systems development and implementation. They said they plan to use this building for their individual offices and provide space in the building for the 49th District state House satellite office.

Daniel Gorman said they are happy to open offices in Donora.

“It’s just a great small town, a tight-knit community,” he said.

Former Mayor Anthony Massafra addressed the board, pleading council “table the bids” rather than sell the property. Massafra said the property should instead be given to the senior citizens in the community.

“We have to be business-friendly,” Councilman John Conger said. Through the opposition, Conger said the community should give the Gormans better consideration for what they are willing to do for the community. “They are making a major investment in Donora,” Conger said.

In addition to offering office space to the 49th District office, Councilman Dennis Gutierrez said the Gormans also offered office parking to the police and fire departments for their use.

The former Community Bank building was appraised at approximately $140,000. The building was donated to the city in 2014. Council Vice President Jimmie Coulter said the borough spent roughly $3,000 a year for the building’s maintenance, and it was vacant for two years.

Coulter said although council is selling the property for much less than the appraisal, it is more beneficial to the community to sell it.

Councilman Gilbert Szakal Jr. added this sale puts the building back on the tax rolls, helping to generate needed revenue.

Mayor Donald Pavelko said a bill was approved by the Legislature to rename part of state Route 1030 in Donora Industrial Park as Ken Griffey Sr./Jr. Drive. Pavelko said he had people in the community asking him why they did not have a street named after the Griffeys, so he decided to contact State Sen. Camera Bartolotta, who is part of the Senate Transportation Committee, around March or April. Pavelko also congratulated Ken Griffey Jr., who will be inducted in the National Baseball Hall of Fame Sunday.

Pavelko said the governor must sign the bill and 60 days later the borough will be able to display the new sign. Pavelko estimates it will be displayed by late September or October.

He hopes to have a dedication ceremony for the sign with both Griffeys present. Pavelko said Donora Police Superintendent James Brice has been in contact with the Griffeys’ agent, who said they are very busy but it may be possible for them to attend.

Pavelko shared an update on the CCAC workforce training center project in Donora. He said he met with college President Quintin Bullock on Tuesday and was told that phase 1 of the project is completed and phase 2 of the project will be completed over the next six months. Pavelko said Bullock estimated the possibility of breaking ground in June 2017.

The council also approved the motion to apply for funding to be used for the city to begin a farmers market and to build a park for senior citizens.

Monongahela Donora Area Lions Club presented Donora police with a check for approximately $1,750. Lions Club President Karl Jackson, Vice President Joe Cialone and Treasurer Ruth Cialone were in attendance. Ruth Cialone said this money will help them to purchase a new security for a building in town. “It’s just a way that me and my wife can help the people in this town,” Joe Cialone said.

Chantal Bey of Donora said children attending the free lunch program will begin cleaning up and painting the playgrounds at Highland Terrace Monday and at Donner Park the second week of August. “Communities should have parks to play in,” Bey said.

She said Palmer Park isn’t accessible to everyone so she wants to beautify the other parks in town so they can also be used.

She said the purpose of this is to beautify the parks and teach the children to appreciate their town.