PLAINS TWP. — A major vein connecting River Street and Main Street in downtown Plains Township is getting a face-lift.
• A now-condemned landmark bank building in the heart of the township is being demolished.
• A two-block section of West Carey Street is being made more pedestrian friendly with a $280,000 sidewalk upgrade.
Demolition of the former bank on the corner of West Carey and Main Street, which began Tuesday, continued Wednesday, and will likely carry through the next few weeks.
Joe Shea of Shea Demolition, the company handling the project, said he didn’t know how long the project would last, but said sorting through the remains of the building would take at least a few days.
“Knocking it down isn’t hard,” he said. “It’s separating it up.”
The project blocked access to West Carey Street from Main Street as a large container for debris occupied the westbound lane. Shea Demolition of Scranton said the lane will not remain closed for the duration of the project, and wants to move the dumpster as quickly as possible.
Shea told the Times Leader the building was condemned due to structural issues in the basement.
Plains Township Commission Ron Filippini said Wednesday the township looked into rehabilitating the old bank, but decided against saving the deteriorating structure when cost estimates proved too high.
“It was sort of sad, but the building was in really bad shape,” Filippini said.
The soon-to-be-empty lot’s co-owner Jim Beccaris said he and his brother Jack Beccaris don’t yet have any plans to develop the land, and they will likely sell it.
“Maybe the township could do something with it,” he said, suggesting the empty lot may somehow be used to improve traffic at the intersection. “Unless somebody has a big idea that we don’t have.”
Beccaris said the details of the building’s history are unclear, and no markings have been found indicating a construction date.
Though the building was privately owned, its demolition coincides with a township beautification effort on the same street.
Construction blocked traffic in the eastbound lane a block aware on West Carey Street near Sarah Street as crews worked on a sidewalk and curbing project. Filippini said the project’s price tag comes in at more than a quarter of a million dollars.
“Gaming funds make it possible for us to do this,” Filippini said.
He said the township is also working to install a three-way stop sign at the intersection of Rose Avenue and West Carey Street.
The aim, according to the commissioner, is to enhance the township’s downtown area, which is home to a few small businesses, including Plains Paper Co., Inc.
Karen Rubasky, co-owner of the shop, said she thinks the new curbs and sidewalks look great. She said the project is already having a tremendous impact on her business by directing water away from the store’s parking lot, which she said floods during heavy rain.
Watching rain water flow into the street during Tuesday’s storm was a triumph, she said.
While Rubasky said she’s been living with the construction on West Carey Street for a few weeks, demolition of the former bank caught her off guard.
“I was surprised. I didn’t know it was coming down,” she said.
Construction crews on West Carey Street had kept traffic moving smoothly in the past, she said, so a seemingly sudden backup Tuesday surprised her, but a phone-call from a friend clued her into the news.
The building was a “staple” of Plains Township, she said, that has been at the center of town for as long as she can remember
“Architecturally it was beautiful,” she said. “I always liked the architecture.”