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Crumbling Kingston Retaining Wall May be Blessing in Disguise

How Kingston plans to address the partially collapsed wall could lead to development of a vacant property.

Kingston, Luzerne County -- It's a vacant property in Kingston that was once home decades ago to King's Miracle Mart department store and in more recent years Reilly Classic Cars. Now, a tarp-covered crumbling wall just adds to what neighbors on South Dawes Avenue consider an eyesore. "In the summertime, you get weeds as tall as I am and then all the neighbors complain and then they come and they cut the weeds all down," said Sally Dawes. Fellow Kingston resident Mark Wanko added, "It's a mess. You know, it's just neglected and it's not Mr. Reilly's fault."

The vacant property is owned by 84-year-old Charles Reilly of Kingston who for years has tried to sell the property. Mr. Reilly told Eyewitness News that on three separate occasions he had a buyer for the parcel of land but each time was thwarted because of issues over the retaining wall and with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. "The wall has been failing for many years. There's been a long delay in this project," said Kingston Municipal Administrator Paul Keating.

Mr. Keating says the government balked at developing the property fearing that disrupting the wall could cause earth erosion near the Wyoming Valley Levee System. Now that the wall has crumbled, Kingston will use government grant money to take down the entire wall which is hundreds of feet long between Market and Pierce Streets. The borough will have the wall area graded and reinforced to the Army Corps of Engineers' liking. Then finally, development of the property may become a reality. "Our goal is to partner with the Reilly family to turn that into some viable tax producing property for the municipality," said Mr. Keating. Neighbors look forward to that day. "It would be nice to see something back there. Something we could all use," said Ms. McDavitt. Mr. Wanko added, "Something that would, you know, kind of help the community."

Mr. Keating says ideally he would like to see some combination of residential, office space and possible restaurants along the side of the levee. As of now, there is no timetable for any of that. Meanwhile, the project to take down the retaining wall at the Reilly property could begin Thursday or Friday and be completed by mid-May weather permitting.

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