SCRANTON — For nearly 20 years, Goodwill Industries has had a plan to renovate the old North Scranton Junior High School.
And a year ago, Newswatch 16 was told it was all set to go. But, that plan still hasn’t come to fruition.
It was a year ago this month that an official from Goodwill Industries said that by the end of 2013, North Scranton Junior High would be apartments for senior citizens, ready to move in.
But, nothing has been done here in a year’s time and there are reports the project’s been delayed a few months more. That news came as no surprise for many people in this part of Scranton.
Students stopped coming to class there in the late 80’s. Goodwill Industries, a non-profit in Scranton, bought the old school not long after with a plan to turn the school into apartments.
Here’s what Goodwill’s director said in April of 2012:
“You’ll see the realness of it in the next few weeks. Because we’ll be starting construction, May or June at the latest.”
Jerry Langan meant May or June of last year.
But, the old school looks the same as it always did. And when Newswatch 16 called and visited to ask why Tuesday, Langan didn’t make himself available.
Perched on the top of Green Ridge Street along North Main Avenue, North Scranton Junior High is still something look at even though it’s starting to show its age.
Mike Santarsiero has a nice view of it out the window of his business. News that the renovation project may be delayed again didn’t come as a surprise.
“Every customer that comes in says, ‘what a marvelous building, what are they going to do with it?’ and then the whole history of the money that went into it but never seemed to accomplish the job comes up,” Santarsiero said.
Officials with Goodwill Industries said last April that all the necessary funding was in place to start construction, and plans were to complete the senior citizen apartments by the end of 2013. Now, reports say problems with the building are pushing things back.
Like he did last year, and many years before, Santarsiero said he’ll believe it when he sees it.
“At this point, I think it’s become a big piggy bank for people who have access to the public’s money,” he added.
Employees at Keen’s Floral and Gift on Green Ridge Street aren’t as jaded. They still make a Christmas wreath for the building’s clock tower each December hoping the following construction season will be the one.
Wendy Wescott said the apartments would provide a much needed boost to businesses here.
“I do believe when it does come, and I do think it will, it’s going to be very beneficial because north Scranton really needs that nice facelift and we love that building,” Wescott said.
Newswatch 16 didn’t hear back Tuesday from officials with Goodwill Industries.
So, we still don’t know the scope of the problems with the building, how much it will cost to fix, and how long construction is being pushed back this time.