Friday, March 30, 2007

Development update...

My fellow Tattlers, not much has developed in recent weeks but here are a few updates:

- Wal-Mart still contends that they do not plan to develop a store along McKnight Road. However, this Tattler has learned a few details.

From the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette:

"Wal-Mart wants to talk with Ross officials about stop lights or other street improvements before it does any more planning for a store along busy McKnight Road. News about the project came to light after the company sent a letter to township commissioners soliciting feedback on possible changes in traffic patterns on McKnight Road, just north of Siebert Road."

So as you can see, Wal-Mart is in discussions with a select few people from Ross Township. This probably included a few commissioners, township manager and possibly the building inspector.

In this Tattler's opinion, Wal-Mart is testing the waters to prevent a situation like Monroeville occurring again. When the chain tried to develop a store in Monroeville, several community members rallied against the project and prevented the development from going further.

I also have learned that if a store is built along McKnight Road, Wal-Mart officials want to build a superstore. Officials have additionally said they have enough land to build a store and are just in informal talks with Ross Township.

Late last week, Wal-Mart announced they are taking over the Kilbuck project along Route 65. According to Jim Davis, senior manager of public affairs:

"Wal-Mart is immediately assuming full operational control of its portion of the River Pointe Plaza property located in Kilbuck Township, Allegheny County. Wal-Mart's intent and focus will be to stabilize the site in accordance with Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) requirements. Wal-Mart firmly believes this decision is in the best interest of the surrounding communities."

While it seems they are remaining optimistic when it comes to the Kilbuck property, this Tattler believes they are going to scrap the whole project. Problems with the Kilbuck site probably motivated chain officials to locate another site - McKnight Road. After undergoing a landslide, this Tattler cannot envision the Kilbuck Project going any further.

- A new business is going into the former location of Don Pablo's Restaurant at McIntyre Square in Ross Township. The new business is called Emiliano's Mexican Restaurant and this Tattler will have more information about it next week.

I've also learned that the reason for Don Pablo's demise at the location was not due to poor sales but a corporate decision. While at the Robinson Township location last weekend, a manager said the chain was growing too quickly and some had to close.

This tends to happen with a lot of businesses that undergo a growth spurt. However, he said Don Pablo's is in good shape now and is planning on opening businesses called Don Pablo's Fajita Grill in the future.

If you hear anything let this Tattler know: sirfuller@hotmail.com. Working to keep you posted...

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

The Ballot Box- North Hills Candidates

As this Tattler figured, two North Hills School Board members have opted not to run for re-election. Both Al Barkley and Mark Kasperowicz chose not to throw their hats in the ring.

This leaves a long list of candidates vying for a seat on the board - I like to call them the "Dirty Dozen."

Residents running for five open seats on North Hills School Board include: Robert Barto, Sam DeFrancesco, Paul Frye, Dennis Gsell, Tara Howey, Louis Krummert III, Shea McKinney, Lou Nudi and Lorenz Stocker. Additionally, current school board members in the running include Arlene Bender, Jeff Meyer and Ed Wielgus.

Some candidate names are recognizable and others are not. This Tattler knows the following:

The incumbents:

- Arlene Bender has been on the board for a very, very long time (around 20 years). She voted to close three elementary schools in December and usually votes in favor of tax increases. Bender is involved with A.W. Beattie Career School to a high degree.

- Jeff Meyer is running for re-election to a second term. He usually serves as a voice of opposition and primarily focuses on fiscal responsibility. He voted against closing the schools in December.

- Ed Wielgus is another member who has served on the board for a long time. This Tattler heard that in the past he lost an election but was appointed to a 2-year seat that was vacant. He is also focused on fiscal responsibility. Wielgus voted in favor of closing three elementary schools in December.

Now onto the challengers:

- Sam DeFrancesco has previously run unsuccessfully for a position on the school board. He has served on the facilities action committee, which was the group that recommended closing Perrysville and Northway elementaries. In December, he said he voted against the recommendation.

- Dennis Gsell and Louis Krummert III have previously vied for positions in the area.

- Lou Nudi is involved with Ross Township Republican Committee. He once was always attending school board meetings - now that is not the case. His platform probably focuses on fiscal responsibility.

While this Tattler knows many people in the North Hills, I am unfamiliar with Robert Barto, Paul Frye, Tara Howey, Shea McKinney and Lorenz Stocker. So, if you're out there -- let this Tattler know what you are all about.

So there is your "Dirty Dozen," which makes me believe this should be an interesting campaign. It would be even better if North Hills or some other political organization would host a "Meet the Candidates" night in which each would have an opportunity to lay out their platform.

I'm sure several candidates will focus on the vote to close elementary schools while incumbents will discuss lack of funding from the state and ridiculous state mandates. If anyone hears of anything, let this Tattler know at sirfuller@hotmail.com.

Working to keep you posted...

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Wal-Mart Talks with Ross Officials...

What a couple of exciting weeks! Sorry it has taken so long to post again but this Tattler has been SWAMPED. Well, here goes:

If you have not been living in a cave you readers would have found out that Wal-Mart held an informal meeting with Ross Township officials.


From the McKnight Journal:

Wal-Mart is in talks with Ross officials about the possibility of building a store there after purchasing property along McKnight Road late last year.

Representatives of the superstore chain recently held discussions with township leaders about the prospect of changing traffic patterns along the commercial corridor.

The Journal went on to get the viewpoint from a Wal-Mart spokesperson:

"We had an informal meeting with some officials asking for their thoughts on Wal-Mart developing the area at some point," said Jim Davis, Wal-Mart senior manager for public affairs. "That is it. No formal discussion and no plans developed."

While the Journal looked into the prospects of a Wal-Mart developing on McKnight, Tribune Review looked more at how the superstore would be built:

Davis said it is not known when the company will make a decision or present plans to the township for review.

Ross Commissioner Chris Eyster said the company's preliminary plans call for demolishing the Sam's Club and Chi-Chi's buildings. Davis said razing the restaurant would allow for better access to the site, as well as increased visibility.

The Post-Gazette also reported on this.

There is so much information to process, but this Tattler thinks he can dumb it down a bit for you.

It seems that Wal-Mart is merely testing the waters to see how much opposition they will encounter. Heaven knows they do not want to face another Kilbuck or Monroeville situation.

Remember, the superstore is just in the beginning phase of looking into developing the site but even if they went forward with plans, it will take a long time before development could even begin.

The rumors are still spreading in regards to the purchase of the former McCrackin Ford and a mattress store. However, Wal-Mart leaders still say they have not purchased those sites.

While this type of development could congest McKnight even more, this Tattler likes the fact that they have an open line of communication with Ross Township leaders and residents. I'm sure there will be an update on this situation in the coming weeks.

Working to keep you posted...

Thursday, March 1, 2007

Altmire Update...

As you may have heard recently, several candidates have jumped in the race for Jason Altmire's U.S. Congress seat. Although he is not up for election for about two years, Altmire will certainly have to face some stiff competition.

In the "Whispers" section of the Pittsburgh Tribune Review:

Roddey's support could boost Ron Francis' attempts to get out in front of two other Republican men thought to be mulling a bid for the 4th District GOP nomination: Lynn Swann, the former Steeler who ran unsuccessfully for governor last year, and Mike Turzai, the Bradford Woods state representative.

And let's not forget three Republican women rumored to be considering entering the race: Melissa Hart, the former congresswoman who lost to Altmire, state Sen. Jane Orie of McCandless and U.S. Attorney Mary Beth Buchanan.


This Tattler has learned, however, that not every formidable republican from the North Hills is planning a run against Altmire. Matt Drozd, County Council member, said on Monday that he does not plan to run for the seat.

I think he would not have much of a chance in gaining the position and it seems as if county government serves him well. He has previously been on the North Hills School Board, a position that did not always make him look the best because this Tattler believes his intentions were misunderstood.

I'll let you know if I hear anything else and of course, if you have any tips - email: sirfuller@hotmail.com.

Working to keep you posted...