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Blight Demolition

Cambria County Leaders are praising a Program they say has spurred “Blight Demolition” in the area, there’s still a ways to go. Cambria County Commissioners and Leaders celebrating an empty lot? Well, there’s meaning to this grassy hill in South Fork. It was the first blighted property to come down with help from Act 152, 3 years ago on Monday. It’s a State Program allowing Counties to collect small fees through Deed Transfers and Mortgages that go specifically toward the Demolition of Blight.

Renee Daly, the Executive Director of the Redevelopment Authority of Cambria County says that generates about $100,000 per year for the County, good for between 5-10 Demos a year. Their biggest job: this old shirt factory in Northern Cambria which came down in 2019 and is now back in taxation. The Demo was done at a fraction of the cost of previous bids because the County and other Municipalities were able to group various projects like this together to get more bang for their buck. Daly adding: “In a lot of cases these municipalities do not have the funds for these demotions or the ability to get lower prices because there might be only one or two structures that need to be demolished. So to put these out in large groupings gives us a lower bid as well as the ability to oversee the program for the municipality. So, we save them time energy and effort as well.”

But as reported before, there is still a long way to go. Act 152 has directly led to 19 Blight Demolitions in that 3 year span, with another 19 set to go in the next year or two. But a 2018 study found there were 1,800 Blighted Properties in the County. But in that time, this and other efforts in Johnstown, which had more than 800 blighted properties alone, has brought communities together to try and solve the problem together, and that collection of expertise, Daly says, has helped everyone start to find solutions.

Daly saying: “Those Municipalities, they might not have the background for those demolitions to get that completed. We’ve seen other private owners come to us and say we know you can’t do the demo yourself but can you put the bid out for us in your next round to get a lower cost?”

So, while Rome wasn’t built in day, neither may the Blight issue be removed, but Cambria County Leaders are optimistic they’ll be celebrating more empty lots and hopefully turning something old into something new.

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