News in the north: 2019 a year marked with ups and downs for North Hills communities
Wednesday, January 1, 2020 | 12:01 AM
It was a year of highs and lows for North Hills communities. Here are some of the top issues that made news in 2019:
Allegheny Health Network cut the ribbon on a new neighborhood hospital in the McCandless Crossing shopping center in January.
In addition to an emergency department and 10-bed inpatient unit, the hospital will provide diagnostic imaging, laboratory and other medical services.
Plans also call for offering a range of services over the coming year at the facility’s Outpatient Center including primary and pediatric care, dermatology, pulmonology and chronic disease management.
McCandless council approved the final component the municipality requires before Sheetz can begin constructing a new gas station and convenience store across from its current location on Perry Highway.
Sheetz has been in a nearly two-year long battle with residents opposed to it plan to move to the new location because there is not enough room at the current site to replace the structure with one of the larger stores the company typically builds.
Residents in a Ross Township neighborhood where 117 dogs and puppies were rescued from a home were shocked by the number of animals found on the property.
The animals — mostly Australian Shepherd, Border Collie and Golden Retriever mixes — included some that humane officers described as “emaciated” and in need of immediate medical attention. They described some of the dogs as elderly.
The odor of ammonia in the house was so strong that rescuers could not enter without the protection of a breathing mask.
Several years of work by volunteers to create a gathering place in West View where children and adults can receive a wide-range of services has come to fruition.
On June 5, community leaders and volunteers hosted a street party to cut the ribbon on the West View Hub — a library, internet cafe, food pantry and center for services such as resume preparation and health and nutrition counseling.
And to top it off, the Hub is located in a unique building and contains some interesting artifacts from the former West View Park amusement park, which closed in 1977.
Long-time North Hills historian Joe Bullick, whose eclectic collection of local history artifacts and American memorabilia is housed in the McCandless/Northern Allegheny Heritage Center in McCandless, died on May 25.
Bullick of Pine Township, was 87.
Bullick began assembling the extensive memorabilia collection after retiring in 1996 as head of custodial services for the North Allegheny School District, where he worked for 40 years.
In February, Ross Township officials announced plans to recognize the countless residents who quietly use their time and talents to make the community a better place to live.
The inaugural Durachko-Gottfried Ross Township Citizen of the Year Award was presented to the couple who bear the honor’s name — Dr. Peg Durachko and her late husband Dr. Richard Gottfried of Ross, who was one of the victims killed at the Tree of Life mass shooting last October.
Durachko attended the May 22 meeting to receive the honor.
For a quarter century, kids in Marshall and surrounding communities have had their own “castle” to pique their imaginations and provide countless hours of fun while they get fit.
But the cost of maintaining the wooden Country Castle play area and the lack of safety upgrades available means it’s time for something new in Knob Hill Park.
Demolition of the wooden playground began in mid-March by Crea Excavating Inc. of Wexford, which donated the manpower and heavy equipment needed.
Work is now under way to replace the Country Castle with a modern structure featuring 50 play components.
A four-alarm fire raged through an apartment complex in McCandless, damaging at least 30 units.
A passerby reported the fire and emergency response units were on scene at the Durham Court Apartments within 5 minutes, according to the Allegheny County Fire Marshal’s Office.
The entrance to the apartment complex is located at 9500 Babcock Boulevard.
The owners of Ross Park Mall have received the go-ahead for their plans to demolish the vacant Sears store and replace it with businesses to expand its attractiveness as a destination for more than just shopping.
Ross commissioners unanimously approved the plans on March 18.
Simon Properties, which owns the mall, plans to replace the department store with a multi-story structure that will house a movie theater, a fitness center featuring a 50-foot climbing wall, restaurants and space for additional retail shops.
Rain washed out North Allegheny’s groundbreaking ceremonies to officially mark the start of construction on a pair of major elementary school renovation and expansion projects.
But more than $45 million in work planned for McKnight and Franklin elementary schools were a go.
The work at McKnight Elementary include major changes at the site to reconfigure the area where parents drop off and pick up children, the addition of a canopy over the main entrance, and relocation of play areas to make room for a 5,400-square-foot addition to house art classrooms. The building also is scheduled for significant remodeling.
The North Hills School Board unanimously approved a recommendation by the administration to transfer sixth-graders to the middle school to make room for the district’s growing elementary school population.
Superintendent Patrick Mannarino’s recommendation is for the move to occur at the start of the 2020-21 school year. The superintendent outlined details of the plan at the board’s Jan. 24 meeting.
The decision is being driven by demographic predictions indicating that over the next several years, the district will begin running out of room in its four, grade-school buildings.
McCandless council suspended police Chief David DiSanti without pay until a corrective action plan can be developed to address accusations that he engaged in inappropriate behavior toward a female officer.
DiSanti was placed on paid administrative leave on Oct. 29 after the female officer accused him of treating her unfairly because of her gender and engaging in inappropriate behavior toward her.
After DiSanti was placed on leave, town officials received accusations of inappropriate behavior by him from two other women who have ties to the police department but are not employees, according to a member of council.
The chief’s reinstatement would be subject to him agreeing to a “corrective action plan,” said Gavin Robb, the town’s attorney. Until that occurs, DiSanti will have to forgo his salary.
After weeks of public debate over the potential benefits and possible risks of signing a lease to allow an energy company to extract Marcellus Shale gas from a mile below a Franklin Park recreation area, council rejected the proposal.
Nearly two dozen borough residents commented at a meeting in January before officials voted 4-2 against awarding PennEnergy Resources a five-year lease to extract shale gas from the park.