The Tribune Democrat, Johnstown, PA


July 18, 2013

Walls will come tumblin’ down

Funds to help raze 10-12 blighted properties

— Obtaining federal and state dollars is a highly competitive process for local municipalities, so city of Johnstown officials have to be feeling good about a $100,000 federal allocation coming their way.

City dwellers should be pleased, too, since the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development funds will be used to raze dilapidated structures.

The ability to cash in on federal dollars to address blighted properties has long made the city the envy of many local government officials in our area. 

It’s apparent city officials are doing something right when it comes to applying for these funds.

Renee Daly, Johnstown’s community and economic development director, told our Dave Sutor that a list of the town’s worst structures is being compiled.

“There are a lot that are caving in on themselves that are in close proximity to the houses next to them,” Daly said. “We consider those to be the highest priorities because of the safety and welfare of our citizens.”   

Enough funds should be available to raze 10 to 12 structures, Daly said, adding that eight or nine will be knocked down in the near future, while the remainder of the money will be kept on hand in case any emergency demolitions are needed, such as after fires.

That game plan is a good one.

Our newsroom frequently hears from frustrated area residents voicing concerns about dilapidated housing and unsightly, unkept properties.

We suggest they write a letter, make a call and send evidence in the way of a photo to City Hall.

While officials there tell us that, at times, they feel overwhelmed in dealing with blighted properties, we suspect their decisions are swayed with evidence of safety and health issues.

One structure already on the current list, at 535 Grove Ave. in the Moxham neighborhood, was gutted by fire in August 2012.

“It smells bad,” said Herman Gunby, whose house abuts the Grove Avenue property.

“It’s an eyesore.”

A lot of other residents can say the same about structures in their neighborhoods.

Unfortunately, addressing those issues is often costly and time-consuming and requires patience and perseverance.


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