Dormont business owners and residents gave mixed reviews of the options the borough presented Wednesday for working with the .
that includes land swaps with , as well as improvements to West Liberty Avenue. The land swap, however, would involve taking ownership of the triangle-shaped parking lot at the corner of West Liberty Avenue and McFarland Road in exchange for land it currently owns—a move some said could have serious negative consequences for business owners in that block of West Liberty Avenue.
Earlier this year, the borough formed a committee of small business owners and residents who could be affected by the plan, to look at options for either implementing or not implementing #1 Cochran's proposal.
Following Dormont Council's presentation of options Wednesday, Dan Damratoski, owner of South Hills Dental Care, presented an alternate plan to council. The plan involved allowing the borough to keep its parking spaces, while finding alternate space that #1 Cochran could use to expand its business.
He said in past land deals on West Liberty Avenue, some buildings were torn down, decreasing the amount of tax revenue the borough could have been able to collect.
"I guess we have to keep in mind that everything we're dealing with are suppositions," said Louise Pitcher, who is involved with Dormont's Main Street Program. "Yes, some buildings are gone, but they're not coming back. The suppositions about the future are even scarier. We don't have a crystal ball."
A representative from asked council members to consider the location of the school, which has many students who commute and must park in the borough during classes.
"If that lot's not there, it's not feasible to valet students for eight hours a day," she said. "You have to explore other options. I feel that it has to be a win-win situation for everyone. Cochran wants to grow its business, and so do we."
Her pick, she said, was for the borough to use its first option—to do nothing, and make no changes to the West Liberty Avenue business district.
Although some business owners said that would be the best option because it would maintain the current parking arrangement in the borough, owner Joe DeMarco said he didn't think it would be the best long-term option for the borough.
"Everyone should keep an open mind. You have to weigh out every option and it's not 'you're for us or against us,' it has to be what's best for Dormont," he said. "I think doing nothing is not a viable option. When you look at what Cochran could do, just passing that option up is not a viable solution."
It was a concensus among several business owners, as well as Councilman John Maggio, that any plan that would take away parking in the borough, even for a short period of time, would have a negative impact on the whole borough.
No votes on the matter will be made until September at the earliest. No contracts between the borough and #1 Cochran have been signed.
Comments from the public are being accepted until the end of the work day on Friday. Those with questions or comments about the proposal and options can email borough manager Jeff Naftal at email@example.com.