GIRARDVILLE, SCHUYLKILL COUNTY (WBRE/WYOU) — A serious threat to the community’s safety and well-being… Blighted, abandoned properties. Local leaders are taking action to tear them down — but it’s an expensive job. Eyewitness News reporter Haley Bianco spoke with the people making it happen and found out who’s paying for it.
Schuylkill County leaders filled what was left of a porch on this crumbling property. This home in Girardville is just one example of the eyesores that many residents pass-by everyday.
“Blight is like a cancer on a community. You have to stop it before it spreads,” said Senator David Argall, (R) 29th district.
Local leaders have added a new tool to the tool-kit to fight blight –money. A 1.4 million dollar state grant will be used to demolish properties throughout the county.
Local politicians believe knocking down properties like this one, will make communities safer. And they hope it will inspire others to clean up their properties, and maybe even expand and build on the new, empty lots.
“What we hope is that perhaps the people in the house will expand their house, build a garage, have a nicer yard. It helps the whole neighborhood. The stronger the neighborhood, the stronger the whole community,” said Argall.
The demolition team is asking municipalities to make a list of the priority properties in their area.
“We’re going to look through, see what we can combine, where we’ll get the best bang for our buck, but we’re going to move quickly,” said Rep. Neal Goodman, (D) 123rd District.
“We want to make sure that everybody’s involved in this. We all have a stake in this. We’re all citizens of Schuylkill County and we want it even better than it is today,” said George Halcovage Jr., Schuylkill County Commissioner.
Leaders say blight lowers property values, strains the real estate market, hurts local schools, and breeds crime. By implementing this demolition program, they’re hoping it has a positive impact on the overall safety and quality of life in Schuylkill County.
That grant money will be put to use as soon as the lists from municipalities start coming in. Residents should expect to see a lot of demolition projects going on over the next several months.