NEWPORT TOWNSHIP, LUZERNE COUNTY (WBRE/WYOU) — It’s a problem affecting virtually every community in Northeastern and Central Pennsylvania, blighted properties.
One Luzerne County community is taking a very aggressive approach to get rid of those properties.
Newport Township officials tell the I-Team they understand residents are upset by these properties, but they say there is no easy way to get rid of them, and money or lack of it is a big factor in the equation.
“I was actually getting sick is looking at it. So I’m glad somebody did something,” said Leslie Kamionka, Glen Lyon.
Leslie Kamionka says this demolition work is something she and her neighbors thought would never see. But on this day, It happened. Heavy equipment tearing down a longtime dilapidated home in the 200 block of West Main Street in Glen Lyon, Newport Township.
Leslie’s mother, Donna Kamionka, says she was always concerned about possible fires at the abandoned home.
“Glen Lyon was a good town one time all these houses awful and thank god for the township that’s all I could say. You know they make it better for us to live here and not see all this stuff,” said Donna Kamionka, Glen Lyon.
“It’s a great challenge unfortunately we’re not alone. Many municipalities face the same problems we are with the blighted properties,” said Joe Hillan, Newport Township Manager.
Joe Hillan is Newport Township’s Manager. He says the township received two state grants totaling around $538,000, money they will use to target blighted properties.
“We have a list of 48 properties that we have on our list to get down,” Hillian explained.
Hillan says the township, like other area communities, cannot simply tear a property down. Unless it’s an emergency situation.
“We identified the properties the owners signed the consent forms, you know went through all the legal process,” Hillian stated.
Hillan says if the owners don’t agree to have the property torn down, the township may have to go to court. That slows down the process and costs the township money. Hillan says without those state grants they could never take on such a big project.
They tell Eyewitness News they hope to have all 48 blighted properties torn down within the next year and a half or so.