Fight the Blight

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Northumberland County Commissioners said Tuesday blighted properties are a problem in many parts of the county.

The commissioners said they plan to cut the number of blighted properties in half over the next five years.

Margie Witt lives across the street from this former factory in Shamokin.  She said she is used to looking at what she calls an eyesore, but living so close to the run-down property worries her.

"I'm concerned that eventually it will fall. Once those window frames rot out," said Witt.

Northumberland County Commissioners said they have a plan to target problem properties in Shamokin and in the rest of the county.  Commissioner Richard Shoch said the county will appoint a task force made up of representatives from the county, the state and individual communities.

"It has to be attacked at the local level, but at the county level what we hope to do is coordinate that effort," said  Shoch.

If a property is acquired by the county it could be turned into low-income housing or, if it's in bad enough shape, it may be demolished.

The county hopes to use grant money to finance its fight on blight.

"We are looking into state grant opportunities. There is already money that is used towards blighted type properties each year, that comes through from the state so it's a matter of trying to look at certain areas and target that," Shoch added.

Vince Brokus said he sees plenty of blighted properties in Shamokin and hopes the plan works.

"Anything they can do to get the blighted properties taken care of and taken down, even if it takes some time, would really help the appearance of the county," said Brokus.

Shoch added the task force could start meeting as early as this month.