Anti-blight solutions discussed at conference

Local News

PITTSTON, LUZERNE COUNTY (WBRE/WYOU) — Fighting blight in our communities is a major issue across the commonwealth.

Virtually every community deals with blighted properties that bring down the quality of life and in some cases, jeopardize public safety. But what can be done about it?

There are no easy answers or solutions to deal with blighted properties like one on North Main Street in Pittston. It takes time, patience and money.

A wrecking crew took down a longtime problem property on North Main Street in Pittston. It took several years and lots of back and forth with the owner of the property, but this blighted property is finally history. Still, there are other properties that have no owner or are in ownership limbo.

“It’s a real eyesore,” Pittston resident Archie Salvo said. “I try to keep my property updated as I could then I look across the street and it just makes me sick.”

Archie and Dolores Salvo live across from a dilapidated property on Price Street in Pittston. City officials are working on the problem but it takes time. Enter the Housing Agency of Pennsylvania. The group sponsored a so-called Blight to Bright breakfast Tuesday to discuss blight and its impact on any community.

“We see it as an issue all over the state,” Housing Agency of Pennsylvania deputy director Levana Layendecker said. “It’s a suburban issue. It’s an urban issue. It’s a rural issue.”

And no two blighted properties are alike.

“So, we’ve been working to create statewide legislative solutions that put more tools in the toolbox of local communities so they can find the resources to address blight,” Layendecker said.

Pittston mayor Mike Lombardo spoke at the conference. His city has been very proactive and successful in addressing blighted properties.

“It’s not just a simple it doesn’t look good. We need to get rid of it. There’s economic implications. There’s social implications,” Lombardo said.

The city of Wilkes-Barre knows blight all too well. Take a look at properties on South Franklin Street. Mayor George Brown will likely be Wilkes-Barre’s new mayor after capturing both the Democratic and Republican party tickets in the May primary. He met with Housing Alliance officials Tuesday to get some advice on how to deal with the blight.

“I’ve not forgotten about the neighborhoods,” Brown said. “When I campaigned I said I would work on the downtown and the neighborhoods. I want to address the blight in the neighborhoods.”

Brown and Lombardo say they will work with leaders from communities across our region to deal with blighted properties.

Several counties in our area have specific anti-blight efforts including Schuylkill County, which has been recognized by state officials for its efforts.

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