Greensburg leaders are seeking money to demolish the J. Edward Hutchinson parking garage, which closed last year due to high maintenance and repair costs.
The city is working with local lawmakers to discuss what funding might be available to help tear down the garage “so it’s not an eyesore,” Mayor Robert Bell said. The garage is connected to Excela Health Westmoreland Hospital by an enclosed walkway on Shearer Street.
The garage opened in October 1979 to alleviate parking problems at the hospital. City officials, however, decided to close the facility on Dec. 1 in concert with Excela after an engineering study revealed that the necessary maintenance would cost more than $2 million to extend its life by three to five. years.
Since this decision was made, Excela has relied on plans to deal with the loss of the 475 garage spaces.
“The impact on patients and visitors is negligible, given what has historically been very limited use of the garage for their parking needs,” spokesman Tom Chakurda said. “Excel maintains extensive free parking for outpatients and visitors at a number of locations on its Westmoreland campus.”
Those who held a garage lease can work with the city to obtain a different space near the garage.
Additionally, Greensburg officials worked to make up for a loss of revenue previously collected from garage parking fees, which was split between the city and the hospital. City officials voted to end that deal with Excela last week. Chakurda asked about the deal in Greensburg.
In total, Greensburg received $139,000 in parking revenue before the covid-19 pandemic. This money was used to buy police vehicles and fire trucks.
Money for those purchases will now come from a nearly $1.1 million loan finalized by city officials in February. The loan approval resulted in an additional tax charge of $1 million, which will cost between $20 and $25 per homeowner. The income from this tax increase, which should total $125,000, will be used to repay the loan.
Further discussions regarding the garage will take place once more details are available on demolition options.
“It’s a priority to try and bring this thing down,” Bell said.