Fighting Blight in Carbondale

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CARBONDALE, LACKAWANNA COUNTY (WBRE/WYOU) — Carbondale continues the fight against blight. Tuesday, Governor Wolf’s administration took a tour around the city. It’s part of the governor’s initiative to help battle blight across the commonwealth.

The Department of Community and Economic Development or DCED came to this part of Lackawanna County to eye out some future projects in Wolf’s Restore PA program if passed.

In the past 10 years, Carbondale has been growing as a city. To keep that momentum going, city and state leaders got on a trolley to visit a select number of blighted properties.

“There’s so many properties out there that again need some incentive or some help to reach their useful capacity,” Mayor Justin Taylor said.

Taylor says the ones to help in that effort is the State Department of Community and Economic Development with its investment into Carbondale.

“It’s good to get them out here to see things for themselves and see what kind of programs or incentives or investments that they could bring to the table,” Taylor said.

“Our parents and grandparents built the infrastructure that we live in today and we have not made any investments in a generation,” Rick Vilello, DCED deputy secretary of community affairs, said.

Vilello has been out in full force efforting Governor Tom Wolf’s Restore PA program proposal to find ways to strengthen broadband, storm and water infrastructure and the fight against blight to help bring back core communities.

“It’s a $4.5 billion investment in Pennsylvania and it’s time,” Vilello said.

Wolf plans to pay for it with a severance tax on the natural gas industry, bringing in about $300 million a year. If passed in Harrisburg, Mayor Taylor says dozens of blighted properties like a 55-acre lot can be helped by redeveloping it and put back on the tax roll.

“We would really look at a brand new neighborhood in our community and which would be, again, monumental,” Taylor said.

There’s nothing set in stone on how the DCED plans to help Carbondale or other communities alike with blighted properties. Governor Wolf’s Restore PA proposal has been getting some pushback in the House and the Senate.

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