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Pitcher Park Foundation Requests $40K Reimbursement from Dormont

The foundation rejected the borough’s counter offer.

Pitcher Park Foundation has requested a $40,000 reimbursement from Dormont Borough for costs the group incurred before the Pitcher Park Skate Park proposal was rejected.

At Monday’s Dormont Council meeting, council President Bill McCartney said Pitcher Park Foundation contacted the borough in December requesting the reimbursement. The matter was discussed in executive sessions in January and February.

“Many of us on council thought maybe it was the right thing to do to reimburse them for some of the work they had done that benefited the borough, particularly on the tennis courts,” McCartney said. “But that was not unanimous.”

After reviewing the request with borough manager Jeff Naftal to determine what could be reimbursed, the borough offered the foundation a reimbursement of $7,500. The foundation rejected the offer. 

McCartney said council directed Naftal, during the executive session prior to Monday’s public meeting, to contact Pitcher Park Foundation, and notify the organization that this was their best and last offer.

But on Tuesday afternoon, foundation president Mary Pitcher said she had not heard from the borough. She said Pitcher Park Foundation countered the borough’s offer by requesting $30,000 instead, but had not received a response.

The costs incurred by Pitcher Park Foundation are based on requirements laid out in a Memorandum of Understanding, which stated various tasks the foundation must—and did—complete, related to the Pitcher Park project. Pitcher, former borough solicitor Deron Gabriel, former borough manager Gino Rizza, and former council President Kim Lusardi signed the document. 

But the MOU was ruled invalid.

Here’s the time line. Click the highlighted links for more information:

  • In 2010, Dormont Council approved a motion to develop a multi-use park in Dormont Park.
  • The MOU was created and signed in 2011. Although some members of council signed the document, other members were not aware of the agreement, and it was never discussed in a public meeting.**
  • In December 2011, McCartney requested and received a copy of the MOU from Rizza. The document was then publically discussed. The document is available in this article.
  • Gabriel, who signed the MOU, wrote a legal opinion in February 2012 stating that the MOU was not a legally binding contract.
  • In April 2012, Dormont Council voted against the Pitcher Park project.

“We proceeded with all good intentions,” Pitcher said. “We went and got three different designs, as we were instructed by council, to the tune of $5,000. We had ] come talk at a Property, Supplies and Planning meeting, as instructed, and that was another $5,000. There was the tennis court enrichment. So many other things. Everything we did was reliant upon the MOU to build the skate park in Dormont.”

Pitcher said the amount Pitcher Park Foundation put into the project exceeded $40,000, although on Tuesday afternoon she was not able to provide Dormont-Brookline Patch with an exact amount. She said she does have documentation of all costs the foundation incurred related to the project.

Pitcher Park has since found a home in Carnegie. Pitcher said the organization has received financial support from the Tony Hawk Foundation for the project, and expects construction to start this spring.

“The mayor of Carnegie and every council person, the work department and the people of Carnegie in general have been extremely supportive,” Pitcher said. “They just have been wonderful. It wasn’t right what Dormont did. It absolutely wasn’t right. We’re just moving forward in a positive manner.”

**Editor's note (Feb. 8): Meeting minutes from the August 2011 council meeting indicate that a resident asked about a written agreement between the borough and Pitcher Park. Based on those minutes, such a written agreement was not discussed by council members at this meeting. Mary Pitcher told Dormont-Brookline Patch that the MOU was discussed at other public meetings; however, current council members have said publicly that they were unaware of the document's existence until Dec. 2011.

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Joseph February 07, 2013 at 03:26 PM
The patch reported volunteer efforts. (I tried linking the articles, but the comment gets rejected)
Joseph February 07, 2013 at 03:27 PM
http://dormont-brookline.patch.com/articles/pitcher-park-group-volunteers-make-progress-on-memorial-drive-tennis-courts#photo-7044739
Joseph February 07, 2013 at 03:27 PM
http://dormont-brookline.patch.com/articles/pitcher-park-group-volunteers-make-progress-on-memorial-drive-tennis-courts
Erin Faulk February 07, 2013 at 03:28 PM
Joseph, when did you try to leave that comment? I have not rejected any comments, so this may be an issue I need to contact the Help Desk about. Thanks.
Erin Faulk February 07, 2013 at 03:31 PM
Nevermind, just found them in the que. I've restored your comments, Joseph.
Ed M February 07, 2013 at 03:55 PM
What those all state is volunteers completed all the work on the tennis courts which - if you read my last post correctly - is what I stated.
coreylahey February 07, 2013 at 04:51 PM
Didn't Pitcher Park also promise to REPLACE the tennis courts rather than repaint them?
coreylahey February 07, 2013 at 04:53 PM
I forget, was Mary Pitcher strung along the first time the skatepark got voted down by the council?
JS February 07, 2013 at 07:06 PM
Ed: by definition volunteer work is work that is offered for no fee. Why do you think that needs to be reimbursed now? Did Mary pay the "volunteers"? The tennis courts are no more viable to play tennis on then they were before the volunteer work was done. The design work was done before she raised enough money to satisfy her agreement with the borough, whether the MOU was valid or not.
Jason D Flaherty February 07, 2013 at 07:52 PM
Am I the only one here that remembers when council told the teenagers get out of here we are building a fire department where you play? Hey COUNCIL since you don't wanna give these people there money back can you use it for the teenagers like it was intended for (youth) . We have a paid recreation director for who? What? Hey how much does the borough charge an hour a kid to use the gym? Why did the weekly basketball pickup games leave and goto the elementary school? I as a tax paying resident can't figure out why we want to keep their money. I just want to know what the recreation director is here to do?
Ed M February 07, 2013 at 09:41 PM
I know very well what volunteer work is, JS, and I don't think Pitcher Park is asking to be reimbursed for any volunteer work. It appears they want reimbursed for things they needed to meet the borough requirements. The problem with the tennis court is they are not regulation size. They are in 100 % better condition than they were. Tennis can now be played on them. Before they were overgrown with weeds and poison ivy.
JS February 07, 2013 at 10:57 PM
OK let's say then that the money they're trying to get from Dormont tax payers has nothing to do with work on the tennis courts. I'd love to see the MOU published in full by the Patch so that we can all read it. I certainly can't find it on the borough's website. Some say they needed to raise 50% of the money needed before they spent any money on this project, some say they were spending this money because they had a legally binding agreement. Can we please get the document published so we can open it up to the public for some INFORMED discussion rather than the same taking sides that we went through before?
Ed M February 08, 2013 at 12:13 PM
Pitcher Park promised to refurbish them which is what council requested and that is what they did.
Ed M February 08, 2013 at 12:16 PM
The MOU was posted on the Patch in another article about Pitcher Park. Erin, could you possibly resurrect it and post it here?
Erin Faulk February 08, 2013 at 02:11 PM
Ed M - click the link in the third bullet point in this article to find that document.
Joseph February 08, 2013 at 03:40 PM
Thanks Erin. It seemed like an auto-delete function. Like links to patch sites isn't allowed.
Joseph February 08, 2013 at 03:42 PM
Ed, your post asked "Who volunteered to fix the tennis courts Philip?" I supplied answers to your question. Chill out.
Erin Faulk February 08, 2013 at 05:27 PM
No, I think it was just a glitch and fortunately it turned out to be an easy fix. Links are definitely allowed. Thanks for posting!
Ed M February 08, 2013 at 10:45 PM
Yup Corey Mary Pat was stung along all the way to the end.
Ed M February 08, 2013 at 10:46 PM
Joseph, You really need to get your facts straight.
Ed M February 08, 2013 at 10:47 PM
I found it. Thanks Erin.
Jenny February 09, 2013 at 04:48 PM
This is nuts! Mary pat absolutely should be reimbursed for what happened here in Dormont. If she doesn't I hope she sues this towns balls off. For anyone who thinks reimbursement is ridiculous... You have some serious moral issues. Dormont should take responsibility for the bs they put this group through.
Drew Lehman February 09, 2013 at 05:42 PM
Jenny you and Ed M seem to be painting all council representatives with the same brush on here. The first council that dealt with this was dealing with this issue in its infancy. Based on feedback from residents we as a council did not approve this project to move forward. We are, after all, representatives of the tax payers and as such need to listen and vote accordingly. This would have been the time to look elsewhere for an alternative. A year later with some self-serving campaign deals in place Pitcher Park got their fourth vote and with it began the unfair promises and back-room deals that were neither fair to Mrs. Pitcher or the residents of Dormont. She WAS strung along by a few councilwomen one of whom would ultimately change her vote and turn her back on Mrs. Pitcher because she never really was on board with Mrs. Pitcher she just wanted a seat on council bad enough to play with this woman's emotions. There is enough blame on this issue to fill Dormont Pool some of it IS with the Pitcher Park people for not looking at alternatives earlier but a majority of it lays at the feet of those who were either giving this woman false hope or worse using her for personal/political gain. I wish Pitcher Park well in Carnegie, they have the room for this project and it seems like a win/win for Mrs. Pitcher.
Ed M February 09, 2013 at 11:10 PM
I'm not painting any council representative with anything Drew. My comments were addressing what Danielle and Mike posted in the thread.
Dblock February 11, 2013 at 06:13 PM
This is a dedicated group led by Ms. Pitcher and I'm glad to see the skatepark will have a home in Carnegie. Here's to hoping it's a huge success, to hell with Dormont, it's a borough FILLED to the brim with corruption on so many levels (and that's just the stuff we, the public, are informed on). This woman lost her sons and tried in vain to build something to remember them by, something youths from the community her sons grew up in could use, yet these people just tried shooting her down at every turn. I saw 5 or 6 middle school aged kids skateboarding down the sidewalk on West Liberty near Potomac yesterday...enjoy it, kids of Dormont...you'll never get a safer place to ride because your hobbies and interests don't gel with those calling the shots on council.
DSA February 11, 2013 at 08:09 PM
Dormont offered $7500! That's more than the $5000 she said it cost to get designs done. Where's the other $35,000 come from?
DSA February 11, 2013 at 08:12 PM
I guess that's true, unless of course their parents step up drive them to one of many nearby skate parks. Or, they could take the bus to one. Or, they could ride a bike to one. Or, they could have a friend drive them. Or...ah forget it, Pitcher didn't get her way after all so that must mean Dormont is full of mean spirited old people like me.
Mike February 11, 2013 at 09:26 PM
I have a serious moral issue with anyone attempting to shakedown my community for money. I'd like to say more but I'm afraid that she'll sue me as well.
Mike February 11, 2013 at 09:30 PM
Absolutely ridiculous. If she wants to build a memorial for someone, do it on her own property with her own money. Leave the residents of Dormont (who did not want any of this) alone!
Ed M February 12, 2013 at 03:09 AM
I'm a resident of Dormont Mike and I thought it was a great idea. Pitcher Park was given the impression this would go through. They were just strung along until they could find away to say no.

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