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Residents want quick fix on eyesores

Published August 25. 2011 05:02PM

Lansford residents again aired their thoughts on blighted buildings in the borough and the residency of one council member during Wednesday night's council meeting.

During the meeting, numerous residents asked Lansford council what can be done to rectify the problem of dilapidated buildings in the town.

Mary Ellen Ogozalek, who attended the last council meeting, cited the borough ordinance on properties that have high grass, and are unkept.

She asked council why something can't be done quicker to resolve these issues, mentioning that in the ordinance, which was first created in 1968, it states that the borough could appoint members of the community to go onto a property and clean it up if nothing is done five days after the owner is cited. The property owner would then be charged the fee for clean up of the property.

Councilwoman Mary Kruczek said there are other factors that must be taken into consideration on these properties and does not want to open the borough up to being cited for trespassing.

She added that she felt the owner should be held responsible to the fullest degree and that code enforcement officer Katheryn Labosky has been working to cite individuals in violation of the ordinances.

Kruczek, who also spoke as a member of the community, pointed out that there are two properties around her home that are in major need of grounds maintenance, but property owners have done nothing to date.

She showed pictures of properties at 364 W. Ridge St., and 356 W. Ridge St. Both sites have high grass, weeds, and are the perfect habitat for rodents and other creatures.

"In the last three days, a rat has been crossing our path continuously in the daytime from one of these properties to the other," Kruczek said. "My daughter can't go out in the backyard and play."

She pointed out that the property at 356 W. Ridge St., is owned by council President Adam Webber.

"This is the property that Mr. Webber claims to reside in," she said. "That does not look like an occupied property."

Kruczek also cited a recent article published in the TIMES NEWS that spoke about Councilman Tommy Vadyak challenging the residency of Webber.

She pointed out that since she lives two doors away from Webber's residence, she can verify that he does not reside at that address.

"I will verify in public and to council that Adam Webber, by definition, is not a resident of 356 W. Ridge St.," Kruczek said. "The definition of residency is to live somewhere and be present and resident is someone living in a place. I had to speak up because I am very familiar with your nonresidency.

"What bothers me about it is you sit here on council, you act as a representative of this community, and you do not even take the time to live in this community," she continued. "I don't understand how you have the heart or the thought for this community. You talk about progression, I've been on council as long as you have and longer. I've been involved in the town even more; however, I can't think of anything that you have progressively accomplished for this town."

Webber responded, as a resident, citing an article published on Sept. 30, 1997 in another publication, that covered a dispute over a then Lansford-Coaldale Joint Water Authority official's residency.

That article stated that the person in question responded by citing his home, taxes, voter's registration and driver's license all have a Lansford address on them.

At that time, council accepted the official's evidence and dropped the subject.

Webber followed that official's actions, saying, "The address listed on my license is 356 W. Ridge St. The address listed on my moving permit is 356 W. Ridge St. The address on and written as such on my voter's registration is 356 W. Ridge St."

He noted that at that meeting, then council President Rose Mary Cannon let the subject drop after that statement, stating that "I guess that was that."

Cannon said she did not remember just letting it drop as Webber said, rather she asked for council's comments and none were given.

He also said that he had just painted the facade of the home and is getting a new roof.

Residents of the community then asked Webber why, if he did live there, that he hadn't cut his grass in the longest time.

His response was that his weed whacker was broken after he hit something while working on a neighbor's property next to the school. He is now waiting for parts to fix it.

Ogozalek asked why he couldn't ask a neighbor to borrow a lawn mower or weed whacker. Webber responded that he has asked but the neighbor didn't have a weed whacker, and his yard was not large enough for a lawn mower.

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