(Opinions expressed are those of the author, and do not represent those of McKeesport Heritage Center or any other organization.)

I need to clarify the article that appeared July 19, 2011 in the McKeesport Daily News, and I have asked for a clarification from the newspaper.

The McKeesport Heritage Center at no time has asked for ownership or control of any building. Period. Full stop.

I am not authorized to speak on behalf of the Heritage Center’s board of directors, but I can say this unequivocally: I have been told by the board of directors in no uncertain terms that we do not want ownership of the Penn-McKee Hotel or any other historic building.

I have made that very clear to city officials and to the city Redevelopment Authority in every meeting that we’ve had, and in every piece of correspondence that we’ve sent.

I can say personally that I do want the McKeesport Preservation Society and its co-founder, Mary Ann Huk, to stop standing in the way of actually preserving a historic landmark.

Ms Huk — if you care about the Penn-McKee Hotel, then:

  • Why aren’t you securing the building?
  • Why aren’t you paying the taxes?
  • Why aren’t you repairing the damage?
  • Why aren’t you cleaning up the blight?
  • Why aren’t you meeting with people who would want to help you do those things?

Here’s the background: Since 2009, McKeesport Heritage Center has been working with city officials and Pittsburgh History & Landmarks Foundation to try and identify a historic property that would be worth preserving.

I was authorized by the board of directors to facilitate meetings between the city, appropriate agencies and any responsible preservation organization that might be willing to help.

After looking at a number of areas (including the Evans Avenue corridor and St. Peter’s Church) we settled on the Penn-McKee Hotel.

But there was a problem — we couldn’t figure out who owned the building. No one was taking care of it and the building is being stripped by vandals. It’s unsecured and no utilities are connected. The taxes have gone unpaid since the 1980s.

The building is in the name of something called “See Bee Inc.,” which has no listed office and no listed officers at the state Corporation Bureau. Until 2009 or 2010, tax bills had been sent to a company on West Fifth Avenue, but that recently changed, and bills started being sent to a White Oak resident.

So, in October 2010, the Redevelopment Authority of the City of McKeesport told us that they would move to take the Penn-McKee through their blighted property review process.

Lo and behold, up popped the McKeesport Preservation Society, and its co-founder, Mary Ann Huk, who say they represent the building’s owners. Ms. Huk retained a Pittsburgh attorney, William Bresnahan II, to fight the city’s declaration of blight and taking.

Ms Huk and Mr. Bresnahan have declined repeated requests to meet with myself, PH&LF or city officials.

The executive director of the Young Preservationists of Pittsburgh attempted to intervene on our behalf with Ms Huk as well. She would not talk to him.

As a result of the Daily News coverage, I have decided to post all of the correspondence — dating back to 2009 — that has been sent to city officials, Ms Huk and Mr. Bresnahan.

Decide for yourself who’s being unreasonable. I don’t think it’s me, I don’t think it’s McKeesport Heritage Center, and I don’t think it’s the City of McKeesport or its Redevelopment Authority.

The ball and the opportunity are both in your court, Mary Ann Huk.

Respectfully,
Jason Togyer

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