Cracking Down on Blight in Williamsport

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If you are the owner of a run-down, vacant property in Williamsport, you might soon have to start paying a premium for that.

City leaders hope dollar signs will force owners to clean up long-time eyesores, according to Mayor Gabe Campana, who said efforts to get owners of more than 100 properties to clean them up has been successful, but only to a point.

"An animal would not want to live in a property like this. It's intolerable for our city," Campana said pointing to a house on First Avenue.

Campana said a little more than 30 blighted properties still have not been brought up to code, including a couple vacant places on First Avenue.

"It's terrible. You try to do a good job with your property, you have to look across the alley to that," said neighbor Karren Lyons.

She has tried to sell her home but it is next to a condemned double-block house. She said there are rats and graffiti and broken windows and she wants something done.

"You try to keep your property up, people like that don't care," she said.

If the owners of those thirty or so houses do not clean up by mid-May, codes officers will seek maximum fines, $1,000 for each violation until the work's done.

"That's a lot of money, better off getting it done at one time, pretty soon might as well sell it foreclose or let the city buy it," said Russell Smith of Williamsport.