The Tribune Democrat, Johnstown, PA

Local News

December 16, 2012

City battles blight

JOHNSTOWN — What was once The Rib Rack restaurant is now an eyesore and a hazard.

The building, located at 405 Strayer St. in Johnstown’s West End, is in a state of decay, with crumbling bricks, broken rain spout, boarded windows and weeds.

Soon, though, the building will be razed.

Its demolition is part of an ongoing effort by City Council and the Community and Economic Development Department to remove blight from the town.  

Since the fall of last year, 66 structures have been razed. The Rib Rack is next on the list. Work has started in the past few days.

Getting rid of the buildings – at a faster pace than seen locally in recent history – has helped improve the safety and attractiveness of neighborhoods, according to City Manager Kristen Denne.

“That’s a significant number of blighted properties that have been removed. ... We see a lot less crime activity, a reduction of rodents, undesirables, structures like that being exposed to fire, the possibility of people squatting in them,” said Denne. “The aesthetic value has a mental impact on the people that live on that street and in that area.”

Almost $500,000 in Housing and Urban Development funds has been used to demolish the buildings.

“We’ve made the move to put a very heavy emphasis in the last couple years on redesigning code enforcement and removing blight from the Johnstown community,” Denne said.

Property owners must sign a lien before the razing.

The city does not take ownership of what become empty lots.

“The homeowner still is required to maintain the land, cut the grass, whatever,” said Renee Daly, community and economic development director.

Johnstown has been assisted by Pennsylvania’s Neighborhood Blight Reclamation and Revitalization Act 90 of 2010. The law improved municipalities’ ability to take legal action against the owners of dilapidated properties. “We can hold the property owners accountable if they have a blighted structure in the city, but they own a beautiful home in, say,  Ligonier,” Daly said. “We can actually lien that property in Ligonier that they might own, live in, whatever, if they’re an absentee landlord of a property here they’ve allowed to go to blight.”

With the city’s new emphasis on getting rid of the structures, the number of code enforcement officials has grown from one to three in recent years. A fourth residential inspector might be added in 2013.

Click here to subscribe to The Tribune-Democrat print edition.

Click here to subscribe to The Tribune-Democrat e-edition.

Text Only | Photo Reprints
Local News
  • LCB Wine1a Does state know when to say when?

    Booze sales on Sunday have proven so popular the Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board is breaking a state law limiting how many stores the system can operate on the first day of the week.

    April 25, 2014 1 Photo

  • mccord Gubernatorial hopeful wins mayor’s support

    Gubernatorial candidate Rob McCord has received an endorsement from Johnstown’s highest-ranking elected official.

    April 25, 2014 1 Photo

  • Home is Where The Tribune-Democrat is Delivered!

    Here are the names of the 10 entrants that were chosen today-April 22, 2014.  If you see your name, call the Circulation Department at 814-532-5000 (#1) or 1-866-307-0905 to verify your information.

    April 22, 2014

  • reading night ‘Story Laboratory’ stirs kids’ interest in reading, science

    Mad scientists and Dr. Seuss characters were the stars Thursday as Conemaugh Township Area children helped concoct mysterious potions that bend the laws of physics and learned how french fries can drive you to work.

    April 25, 2014 1 Photo

  • Republicans tout ‘right’ credentials

    All three Republican Party candidates in Pennsylvania’s 9th Congressional District race attempted to distinguish themselves as the person conservative enough to represent the state’s most conservative district in the U.S. House of Representatives on Thursday night.

    April 24, 2014

  • elder abuse 1 Calling attention to elder abuse

    As far as states with the oldest populations go, Pennsylvania hovers near the top, depending on which statistical report you read. Along with an ever-growing elderly demographic comes more instances of seniors being abused or cheated out of money.

    April 24, 2014 1 Photo

  • Cambria adds security to thwart copper thefts

    Would-be copper thieves, be warned: Anyone trying to steal copper wiring from any of the 17 towers that make up Cambria County’s 911 communications system will be caught on camera.

    April 24, 2014

  • Commissioners praise response to bomb threat

    Two days after a bomb threat closed the Cambria County Courthouse for half a day, officials handed out accolades to those who pulled off an efficient search and quick apprehension of the alleged perpetrator.

    April 24, 2014

  • Black fly program to target river corridor

    The Cambria County commissioners Thursday entered into an agreement with the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection that opens the door for the state to provide black fly suppression spraying.

    April 24, 2014

  • Inmate faces sex charges

    An Altoona man was charged with rape after authorities accused him of sexually assaulting another man while both were inmates at the Cambria County Prison.

    April 24, 2014


Would you like to see the Johnstown Community Corrections Center remain open after its lease runs out on Oct. 11, 2015?

I'm not sure
     View Results
House Ads