Lansford resident vows to continue blight fight
Lansford resident Rita Klekamp on Wednesday vowed to continue her fight against blight in the borough.
Klekamp spoke before council at a public meeting, pressing the board to become more aggressive in dealing with neglected and abandoned properties.
She cited properties at 238 E. Bertsch St. and at 224 W. Abbott St. The Bertsch Street property owner was cited 100 times, she said. But the citations are dropped when the owner cuts the grass or cleans up debris.
Solicitor Michael Greek said there were 39 citations, and acknowledged they were dropped when the owner cleaned the place up. A plea deal was struck last month between the borough solicitor and the owner of 238 E. Bertsch.
"The whole point of the citations is to have the grass cut," he said. Greek has asked council to create a committee to deal with blighted or neglected properties on a case-by-case basis, since each requires a specific approach in order to be effective.
Klekamp also asked council why an ordinance that allows the borough to come in and clean up the properties, then bill the owners, isn't enforced. Councilwoman Mary Kruczek said that some people would just come to rely on the borough to do their cleaning and maintenance chores.
Klekamp did not get a definitive answer to her question.
Klekamp brought state Rep. Doyle Heffley into town a few weeks ago to tour blighted properties. She vowed to contact the federal Housing and Urban Development program and continue higher up the political chain in order to get results.
Councilman Tommy Vadyak noted that the problem of neglected properties has been an issue in the borough for a long time. Councilwoman Rosemary Cannon observed that the borough, which is battling a mold problem and roof problems in its borough hall and community center, "can't take care of its own buildings."
Code Enforcement Officer Katheryn Labosky has repeatedly cited the property owners Klekamp mentioned, the most recent, at 224 W. Abbott, on Aug. 18. A couple who rents a home near 224 W. Abbott also spoke of seeing rats and snakes, and their landlord expressed his own frustration.
In a related matter, Renee Slakoper asked council what could be done about ongoing vandalism to the gazebo in the John F. Kennedy Park and to the coal miners monuments in town. The ownership of the gazebo was debated, as was who should be responsible to chase teenagers away from the site.