Architect sues Coyle Theater group over unpaid bill

July 22, 2014
A reorganized group trying to restore the Coyle Theater in Charleroi is giving the building a fresh coat of paint. The historic theater is being sued by a Pennsylvania architect in small-claims court for an unpaid bill. - Scott Beveridge / Observer-Reporter Order a Print

CHARLEROI – A reorganized nonprofit organization struggling to restore a historic Charleroi theater is being sued by a Pennsylvania architect in small-claims court for an unpaid bill.

Phoenixville architect Thomas W. Carnevale claims the Mid Mon Valley Cultural Trust owes him $7,250 for measuring the building at 311 McKean Ave. and also completing “as-built” drawings of the structure last year, court records state.

Carnevale states that he met former Coyle consultant Barry Cassidy last year to discuss ideas for rehabilitating the 1,000-seat theater, and he understood the drawings were needed for grant applications. Included in the suit filed at the Charleroi office of District Judge Larry Hopkins is a contract authorizing Carnevale to perform the tasks, a document signed Oct. 21 by Adele Pireaux, the then-chairman of the trust who since resigned from the board.

The beleaguered trust reorganized at least three times in the past decade, and it hasn’t raised enough money to get the project off the ground. The building, dating to about 1890, is in need of urgent roof repairs, and the trust is $3,000 behind in its storm sewer bills, Charleroi borough Manager Donn Henderson said.

The current chairman of the trust, Melanie Patterson, said the group has no records or mention in meeting minutes that an architect was hired to complete drawings. She said the trust will soon issue a news release identifying its new board of directors and plans.

The trust met with borough officials on a proposal to turn ownership of the building over to Charleroi, Henderson said.

The borough would, if the plan succeeds, create a commission to perform the work of the trust, he said.

“As far as I know, it hasn’t been totally ruled out,” Henderson said Tuesday.

He said another group working on a revival plan for Charleroi identified the 300 block of McKean Avenue as having redevelopment potential. The Coyle was left out of that report because the theater’s fate is unknown.

Carnevale and Pireaux could not be reached Tuesday.

Hopkins set a hearing in the case for 1 p.m. Aug. 18.

Scott Beveridge is a North Charleroi native who has lived most of his life in nearby Rostraver Township. He is a general assignments reporter focusing on investigative journalism and writing stories about the mid-Mon Valley. He has a bachelor's degree from Indiana University of Pennsylvania and a master's from Duquesne University. Scott spent three weeks in Vietnam in 2004 as a foreign correspondent under an International Center for Journalists fellowship.

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