PLYMOUTH – How to rid the borough of blighted properties a question facing the council at Tuesday night’s meeting.
Councilman Bill Dixon was worried that a burned-out house on Blight Street could eventually collapse and fall into an adjacent resident’s home.
Besides the unsightly mess the dilapidated buildings are causing in the borough, there’s also the question of the borough’s potential liability if one of them caused damage to a resident’s home.
“None of us would want this next to them,” Dixon said. “It’s the same all over town.”
Councilman Ron Kobusky said Plymouth has always had a problem getting run down properties cleaned up. The borough only has so much money to deal with them, he said.
Councilman Clif Madrak suggested council use community development funds to tear down properties one at a time. It would take a while, but it would be a start, he said.
Borough Coordinator Joe Mazur said it costs about $10,000 to demolish a house. If council wants to do that, other projects such as street paving and a new roof on the borough building would have to be put on hold, he said.
“Pick your priorities,” Mazur saidl. “We can’t do everything.”
Councilman Tom McTague estimates there are about 22 houses or properties that need to be torn down. About four or five should be taken down immediately, he said.
Borough Solicitor Mike Kostelansky said the borough can fine the owners of the properties that aren’t up to borough code, but that’s about it. Often, the fines and punishment aren’t enough to spur action from the properties’ owners, he said.
Kostelansky said if the house on High Street did collapse into the adjacent property, the house’s owner would be responsible.
In another matter, Madrak wanted to know why Plymouth is paying about $8,360 per year to put one of its police officers in the Wyoming Valley West School District as a school resource officer and the eight other boroughs and municipalities that are part of the school district pay a smaller amount. It cost’s approximately $33,500 a year to put the officer in the school, he said.
“Why are we subsidizing the other communities,” said Madrak. “I want this looked into.”
Chief Myles Collins said the officer sometimes is called away from the school to transport prisoners or if there is an emergency.
Madrak said the officer should not be leaving the school once there.