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Jim Thorpe company bids on deteriorating building

  • TIMES NEWS FILE PHOTO The building owned by Bennett Verta Jr. at 401-425 W. Bertsch St.
    TIMES NEWS FILE PHOTO The building owned by Bennett Verta Jr. at 401-425 W. Bertsch St.
Published March 11. 2010 05:00PM

A Jim Thorpe company has submitted the highest tax sale bid for the massive, deteriorating brick building owned by Bennett Verta Jr.

But borough council on Wednesday decided to wait before voting on whether or not to accept the bid because it wants to know more about the buyer.

Carbon County Tax Claim Director Renee Roberts sent a letter to the borough on Feb. 18, saying that Realty Services Unlimited Inc., of Jim Thorpe, bid $1,010 for the building at 401-425 W. Bertsch St. In her letter, Roberts said council has 20 days to approve the sale. The Panther Valley School District and the county received similar letters.

Council, however, balked at taking a vote. Solicitor Robert T. Yurchak said that a Mr. Keller of the company said he would replace the roof, but did not say what the company planned to do with the building after that. After the meeting, council president Bob Gaughan said council wants to get more information before making a decision.

Efforts to reach the company for comment early Thursday were unsuccessful.

Verta's bought the building several years ago in hopes of manufacturing truck washing soap. But the business, Everbrite Industries, never got off the ground, and Verta fell on hard times. The building's roof is collapsed, and in January, Verta was fined $9,000 by District Judge Casimir Kosciolek for failing to take steps to repair it.

Code Enforcement Officer Katheryn Labosky has repeatedly cited Verta for code violations that addressed the safety of the building's roof and walls, and sanitation and cleanliness.

In other matters Wednesday, council voted to take emergency action to demolish a badly deteriorated house at 219 E. Bertsch Street. The work may start within a week, Yurchak said. He will obtain a court order to demolish the building, and council will then file a lawsuit against the owner to recoup the costs.

The owner of the attached home told council she has tried for years to have something done about the house, which has been condemned. Diane Decker, of 217 E. Bertsch, said she had to have a new bathroom put in after water leaks from 219 severely damaged the walls. Further, she said the entire back of the house is gone, and is covered by a tarp. Now mold is beginning to spread from the condemned house to hers, she said.

Code Enforcement Officer Labosky said she has cited and contacted the new owner of the house to no avail. Gaughan was angry that the house had been sold even though it had been condemned.

In a related matter, a woman who rented an apartment at 331 W. Abbott St. complained there is a mold problem in the residence. Council discussed the need for a person certified in mold removal to accompany Labosky on inspections. Apartments must be inspected before the landlord rents to new tenants. Labosky said she has contacted the landlord in an effort to resolve the matter. the current tenant said she is moving, but is concerned about future tenants.

Also on Wednesday, council hired Keystone Engineering as borough engineer. Keystone will not replace Cowan Associates, which is handling the engineering associated with the corrective action plan for the borough's sewer system.

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