Pittsburgh mayor Bill Peduto's chief of staff was on Capitol Hill because of a vacant and increasingly overgrown former Veterans Affairs hospital in Lincoln-Lemington.
He was hoping to convince members of Congress that selling the old VA hospital is a good move for the federal government and the city of Pittsburgh.
“We would love to convert that declining asset to productive use and the good news is we have a plan,” said Kevin Acklin, Mayor Peduto’s chief of staff.
He was in Washington D.C. Wednesday, urging members of the House Transportation and Infrastructure committee to expedite the process that would allow the city to buy the old VA hospital property on Highland Drive in Lincoln-Lemington.
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“But the red tape that it takes to convert this process and this property to productive use is standing in the way, it's costing federal taxpayers money, it's costing us an opportunity cost, to relocate our facilities to better use,” Acklin said.
In December, Target 11 broke the story that the city was interested in obtaining the 164-acre property that used to house the VA hospital, which closed four years ago.
The city wants to build a public safety training facility here, as well as relocate some city departments, like fleet maintenance and refuse that are now housed along the rivers.
That’s valuable property that could be sold for private development.
The chairman of the subcommittee, who toured the site last month, called it a win-win for taxpayers, who continue paying $300,000 a year to maintain the vacant VA property.
“The taxpayers of Pittsburgh win by selling very valuable property that can be turned into an economic development project, with more income coming into the city,” said Congressman Lou Barletta, chair of the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee. “The federal taxpayer benefits by getting rid of 160 acres of property that the meter's running on every day.”
The General Services Administration has taken over the facility from the VA, but completing a deal with the city could take another year.
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