The rain — and confusion — did not keep over 100 Penn Hills residents, municipal staff and elected officials from showing up to see the new municipal complex on Friday.
The grand opening originally was organized to allow only staff, council members, the mayor and select dignitaries to walk through the building. However, Planning Commissioner Brent Rambo created an event on Facebook inviting the public to attend. Rambo said he thought the invitation he received in early June was for anyone.
Nevertheless, Friday’s rainy event included remarks from Manager Mohammad Rayan and elected officials in the building’s council chambers, a ribbon-cutting ceremony, a lunch and tours led by department heads.
“I’m very proud to present to the municipal staff, mayor and council a dream that has finally come true, despite all the negativity that has, at times, surrounded this project,” Rayan said.
Residents have expressed concern since 2015 that the $12.3 million complex, which includes a 43,200-square-foot municipal and police building and a 9,000-square-foot emergency services building, would lead to property tax increases.
While it still remains unclear whether the building will lead to a tax hike, officials have touted their own fiscal diligence with the project.
“The construction cost awarded for the building and the EMS building both totaled $12,358,956,” Rayan said. “This project is under budget.”
Mayor Sara Kuhn said the municipality received a $11.5 million bond for the project and a $1 million state grant with help from state Rep. Tony DeLuca.
Rayan also said the municipality saved up to $50,000 on the move, which was not hired out. He said the move will start June 25 for administration, code and planning departments. The finance, police and EMS departments will follow, and Rayan expects everyone to be moved in by the end of July. Department of Public Works will do the moving.
He said another open house — one truly intended for the general public — will be announced once all employees are moved in.
After about 30 minutes of remarks from Rayan, Kuhn and other elected officials, residents walked through the building.
Linda Oslick, 68, of Penn Hills, called it beautiful.
“They are well-equipped now,” she said, referring to municipal staff. “And it’s in such a nice location — it’s centrally located and you can get to it easily.”
The complex, located on almost 16 acres along Duff Road, is not completely finished.
But when it is, it will have two 30-foot-wide driveways, 165 parking spots, a firing range for police, five holding cells, an emergency responders training room, a training site for firefighters, locker rooms and a full kitchen for EMS workers. Eventually, the police and veterans memorial also will be featured on the property.
“People should have gotten together sooner to do this,” Oslick said.
Dillon Carr is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach him at 412-871-2325, [email protected] or via Twitter @dillonswriting.