New hope for Ashley bridge

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ASHLEY, LUZERNE COUNTY (WBRE/WYOU-TV) There’s new hope for the residents of a community in Ashley, known as the patch.

The Ashley Borough Council voted not to buy the historic Culvert Street bridge– but that isn’t stopping locals from trying to save the entryway.

Residents tell Eyewitness News they are angry that their pleas to save the Culvert Street bridge were ignored.

But they have a new plan of action. They are in the process of starting a new non-profit organization dedicated to revamping the borough of Ashley, which includes preserving the bridge.

“It’s part of our identity. It’s Carey’s Patch. And the patch you think of the tunnel,” says resident Dolores Kaufer.

Residents of the patch are planning to start a non-profit organization to protect their beloved bridge, and the stone tunnel that supports it, from being demolished. Spokesperson Jennifer Heller says it’s now the only way to save the bridge.

“The redevelopment authority originally said that they would give the tunnel to the borough for a dollar or they would give it to a non-profit organization. So in that process, I need to start a non-profit organization,” says Heller.

On February 11th, the Ashley Borough Council voted not to buy the deed for the Culvert Street bridge from the Luzerne County redevelopment authority.

Heller says the controversy over the Culvert Street Bridge began in 2017, after a complaint that the bridge was unsafe. Yet, she says she never found anything that showed her it was unsafe.

“When they did the engineering report, it came back that the tunnel was structurally sound,” Heller said.

And so the fight to preserve the bridge began. Last week the redevelopment authority held an informal meeting after the borough council’s vote. Heller says the group’s effort has so far worked. The demolition is on hold.

Heller adds, “They did give us the option to speak with them with our concerns and they sound like they’re very willing to help us and work with us.”

The bridge was built in 1919. Residents say they support the non-profit organization, called the Ashley Preservation Society, because the bridge is a vital part of their community.

“It’s part of our history. And if you get rid of the history, there’s nothing there for the next generation to see,” says Kaufer.

The Ashley Preservation Society will not only preserve the bridge, but Heller tells Eyewitness News it also beautifies Ashley.

“Our entire town needs a facelift. And it needs to be brought back to life,” says Heller.

Heller says shes had an outpour of support for the Ashley Preservation Society, even from people who live outside of the borough.

The non-profit is in the process of being registered. It will take 60 days to file and get approved.

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