The Tribune Democrat, Johnstown, PA

April 1, 2013

Court sets deadline for action on Rex Theater

Justin Dennis
jdennis@tribdem.com

PORTAGE — A judge has ordered Nicholas Sekerak Jr., owner of the blighted Rex Theater property along Gillespie Avenue, to find a contractor to demolish the structure by April 23.

If Sekerak does not comply, he could face incarceration, borough officials said at a council meeting Monday night.

Borough Manager Robert Koban said the council became aware of public concern regarding the structure’s integrity in 2011.

When an inspection was conducted by engineering firm Stiffler & McGraw in January 2012, it was found that about 30 feet of the roof had col­lapsed, adding extra stress to the building’s walls, which were bowing and cracking.

At a public hearing in July, Sekerak beseeched the council to allow him to repair the structure.

Borough Solicitor Michael Emerick said that after the hearing, Sekerak asked if grant money would be available to be put toward the project.

According to Koban, Sekerak later asked for an extension and eventually failed to produce results.

“One promise led to another promise,” Koban said. “The second time, we basically started documenting the process.”

Although the motion allowing Sekerak time to clean up the property was passed by the council, his lack of action forced officials to “move forward” and classify the building under the borough’s dangerous structure ordinance.

Members met last week before Cambria County Judge Norman Krumenacker, who handed down the deadline.

Inspectors said that if the building were to collapse, it would fall into an alley adjacent to the property, which has since been blocked off.

“From a public safety standpoint, we decided to barricade it,” Koban said.

A public hearing regarding the future of the Gillespie Avenue property will be held Thursday.

Emerick said all may attend, but there might not be much to talk about.

“Mr. Sekerak will be doing most of the talking at that hearing,” he said.

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