WILKES-BARRE — Saturday morning crews were installing concrete barriers at the corner of South Main and Northampton Streets, preparing for the demolition of a number of buildings on the block.
Workers also erased old traffic marking from the street and painted new ones on the pavement, sprinkling the dashes and arrows with clouds of tiny glass beads to make them reflective in the dark.
On Friday, city officials announced that the demolitions were imminent due to structural problems. The issued were discovered when officials were showing the buildings to prospective developers.
Local resident Jerry Campbell stood across the street and watched the work with concern. He isn’t so sure demolition is the best option, and worries historic character will be lost.
“I would like to see these building saved, and rehabbed, and put to good use, retail use.”
Mike Simonson is Wilkes-Barre’s Assistant Director of Operations in the Code Enforcement Office. He says officials do plan to meet with historic preservation experts.
“The public safety is the first thing we are going to take care of, we are then going to meet with the appropriate parties in relation to the building after.”
While folks doing business in the area say the construction and road work will cause some inconvenience, they are hopeful that ultimately it’s a positive step for downtown Wilkes-Barre.
Donna Mangino, owner of the Xtreme Salon says her customers would like cheaper and more plentiful parking.
“We have been here for twelve years, the building has been coming down for 12 years, bricks falling on the sidewalk.”
Frank Clark Jeweler, which is now under new ownership will not be demolished, however owner Ilona Bruns still is facing plenty of challenges.
Just 5 months after renovating and re-opening, she has to temporarily relocate. While the demolition happens she will operate out of another shop owned by her family on East Main Street in Nanticoke. While she admits having to pack up as quickly as possible is stressful, she remains optimistic that the changes will eventually make the block better.
“I’m hoping the renovations they are doing around the demolishing is just going to continue the beautification of Wilkes-Barre.”