PITTSBURGH (KDKA) – After years of sitting vacant, the former Bon Air Elementary School will be transformed. However, many residents are concerned about the future of the building.
“It seems like the decision has already been made without the community’s consent,” said Donald Ballard, who has lived across from the school for 7 years. “Ninety percent of the community does not support what’s going on right now.”
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Ballard says the empty building hasn’t bothered him until now.
“We had the community meeting up there, and they’re talking about turning it into 14 to 15 apartments, and that’s ridiculous,” said Ballard.
A Pittsburgh Public Schools spokesperson says they approved the sale of the former school for $55,000 to Gregory Development back in April.
She says it was a big financial burden to maintain the closed building. The spokesperson says the developer presented community support with his bid of the property as required. But Ballard says many are against the plans for multiple reasons.
“Where’s all that construction and dirt going?” asked Ballard. “Right on top of my house, the whole time they’re working. Plus we just had these roads paved.”
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“I don’t want an apartment building here,” said Brenda Cheplic. “I don’t want all those people and cars. It’s nice here. It’s peaceful. It’s private.”
Residents like Cheplic say she would like a green space there instead.
“I think it would be nice to have a community garden,” said Cheplic. “It’s a community thing,”
“I don’t know if I’d rather see the green space because my question is, ‘Who is going to pay for that?” said Ballard. “I know the school board is not willing to pay for that.”
But one thing residents want the Pittsburgh Public Schools board to do is meet with the neighborhood, so they can express their concerns. They say there is a petition going around with more than 240 signatures in favor of the green space.
City Councilman Anthony Coghill is working with them, and asked the school to hold the sale. However, the district’s spokesperson says they’re not allowed to rescind the sale if the developer met all of the requirements.
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KDKA reached out to the developer, but have not heard back.