“Financially Stressed:” Leaders Attempt to Handle Collapsing Building in Northumberland County

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SHAMOKIN, NORTHUMBERLAND COUNTY (WBRE/WYOU)- Leaders in Northumberland County held an emergency meeting after a building partially collapsed yesterday.

The Mayor of Shamokin says it’s “financially distressed” and there aren’t a lot of options to take care of the problem.

The old Shoyer Dress Factory in Shamokin has been vacant for years. The county does hold the deed to the property, hoping to get quotes today to stabilize the building.

But even after it gets them, there’s no guarantee it can deal with the mess.

Now gated and surrounded by police tape, part of the old Shroyer Dress Factory on North Shamokin Street is still in danger of collapsing after a big portion of the front fell into the street Sunday afternoon.

It took down power lines, leaving hundreds of families without power Easter Sunday.

At an emergency meeting at City Hall, the county housing authority announced it will donate $10,000 to stabilize the building.

“We’ve been somewhat successful in obtaining funding for blight remediation programs,” says Ed Christiano of the Housing Authority of Northumberland County.

Since the former Shroyer’s Dress business shut down around 1990, the building has been vacant and slowly falling apart.

City officials say the last owner, Stella Ali from Massachusetts, bought the property for $100 at the county’s repository sale in 2013. Authorities say she lost it last year after failing to pay taxes.

“We had numerous citations issued, myself and the police department,” says Rick Bozza of the city code enforcement. “We’ve been going through the court process, still ongoing.”

Residents have watched the building fall apart for years. They’ve brought their concerns to the city, and their concern has since turned to outrage.

“Living on the corner, we’ve seen the vandalism,” says Mary Sperow of Shamokin. “We’ve seen people going in and out. I’ve heard a lot of talk, but I haven’t seen action.”

Everyone we spoke with agrees the building needs to be demolished, but with an estimated price tag of $300,000, the city says it just can’t afford it.

They blame irresponsible landlords for putting communities in these financial challenges.

“Myself, the mayor, and other council members have been kicking around ideas of making people put bonds on properties when they buy them,” says Bozza. If they don’t do anything, we will take the bond and do something with the property.”

At the meeting today, there were some questions as to who really bares the responsibility for the demolition. County leaders say it’s really up to the state for funding, but so are scores of other communities with blighted properties.

Before anything can be done to the building, the city needs to contact the EPA about proper removal of asbestos on the property.

The property was already scheduled for a judicial sale in May. The question is- who would want to buy it knowing it needs to be demolished?

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