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Tamaqua looking to sell empty lot

Published October 07. 2009 05:00PM

Tamaqua Borough has completed the demolition of a blighted property at 23 Market Street and is now going to pursue the sale of the vacated lot. "It's like a breath of fresh air," said council president Micah Gursky, of the project. "It was a long time coming and we're glad to see that it's down."

Council also decided to sell the lot as soon as possible. Gursky indicated that there has already been interest in the property from other property owners in the area. Council opted to pursue the sale of the property by an auction, rather than the submission of sealed bids. The borough first decided to use the auction format in the sale of a parking lot at the intersection of Spruce and Cherry Streets, which was held today (October 7th).

Borough solicitor Michael Greek recommended that the borough base the minimum opening bid on the assessed value of the property. Councilman John Trudich asked if the borough could possibly recoup the money that has been spent by the borough on the property. "We'll never get our money back. I'd love to, but when we demolish blighted buildings, we never do," answered Gursky. Council also met in executive session to discuss other real estate matters.

Council also accepted the resignations of two members of the Citizens Advisory Committee, Charles Reaman and George Woodward. The Citizens Advisory Committee is a group of volunteers that manages and oversees the housing rehabilitation program in the Borough. The borough is accepting letters from anyone who is interested in being appointed to the Committee.

Borough Manager Kevin Steigerwalt advised council that the borough's insurance broker, the Seltzer Agency, had successfully found a cheaper insurance provider. Although the borough will spend $2,000 more on their insurance premiums this year, between the package policy and the workman's comp insurance, the difference between the new provider and the previous one is $40,000. "Essentially, we would have been paying $42,000 more for insurance this year," said Steigerwalt.

Trudich asked council to consider purchasing a 1996 Mack truck, with a cinder spreader and two plows from the Municipal surplus auction. Council will have time to research the truck and prepare a bid before the next meeting.

Council also discussed the possibility of obtaining another blighted property at 311 Orwigsburg Street. According to neighbor Michelle Mehallic, the property has not been lived in for 30 years. Gursky noted that the property did come up for sheriff's sale and was not sold. "We might be able to acquire it to rehabilitate or demolish it," he said. Gursky also mentioned that the housing and neighborhood committee does keep a list of problem properties and reviews them monthly. Melissa Fredericks, of Spruce street, and Monique Nunemacher, of Columbia street also advised Council that properties adjacent to theirs are ill-maintained and causing problems. "I have birds flying through my attic, because they're all connected," said Fredericks. Nunemacher said that her neighbors neglect of weeds and grass have led to her being stung by bees on multiple occasions.

Council also approved handicap parking spaces at 212 North Lehigh St., 208 Biddle St., and 36 Market St. Council discussed complaints about cars exiting from the LCCC parking lot and the Genetti parking lot, near the location of Tommy's and Domino's. Councilman Steve Tertel requested that a letter be sent to the owners of the lots, requesting the installation of stop signs at the exits of the lots. Although the borough cannot place stop signs on private property, cars are required by law to stop before exiting onto a public street.

During the public comment, council was informed by one resident of an ongoing problem with bedbugs at the Tamaqua High Rise. Linda Miller, of Willing Street, whose mother is a resident in the high rise, said that she has already filed a complaint with Code Enforcement Officer Jim Barron. "It's almost a year," she said, "and they still have them. "They got rid of them and they're back." Miller questioned the effectiveness of fumigating one room or floor at a time. "It's supposed to be done every floor at the same time," she said.

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