Monday, in the court of District Judge Casimir Kosciolek in Lansford, a fine of $9,000 was levied against Ben Verta. Verta owns a deteriorated building next to the Lansford football stadium.
In past hearings, Verta said financial problems prevented him from making repairs to the building. Those same financial problems will likely prevent him from paying his fine.
The building is a sprawling structure with large sections of the roof missing. At one point, there were complaints lodged by Panther Valley School District that pieces of the roof were blowing into the Lansford stadium, which is used for football games - high school and knee-hi.
Lansford borough is likely hesitant to take over the building because of what the cost would be to taxpayers to raze the structure. There's no guarantee - in fact it's unlikely - that Lansford would ever recoup its cost in such acquisition and demolition.
The ideal solution would be for the Panther Valley School District to work with Verta and possibly county officials to buy the building, and raze the structure. This would allow the district to use the site for parking, extended bleachers, a new refreshment stand, or some other worthy project in conjunction with the stadium.
As the building exists, a fire hazard exists since there is electricity to the building and it has so many water leaks. It's a safety hazard in that the roof is wide open at various locations. It's a health hazard, again because of the roof. Pigeons and other animals can easily access the structure.
Ben Verta had good intentions when he obtained the building to bring a viable industry to Lansford. The plans failed in part to the poor economy.
Too much bad has happened to the building to salvage it and allow Verta to ever fulfill his original dream.
It's time for the building to be razed before some terrible incident happens.
By Ron Gower