Meet Lackawanna Land Bank’s First Buyers

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SCRANTON -- A couple from Scranton, who have been maintaining an empty lot next to their home for a decade, finally got to call it their own today. They were the first to purchase property from Lackawanna County's Land Bank.

The empty lot on North Cameron Avenue in Scranton's west side has a long back story, but it has a happy ending.

"It didn't look great, but Greg took care of it for many years, always cutting the grass and weeding, him and Joanie took very good care of that lot," said neighbor Jan Lawrence.

Greg and Joan Popil became the lot's owners Friday. The Popils are the first to take advantage of the Lackawanna County Land Bank which launched earlier this year.

"My wife and I have taken stewardship of the property and we've added top soil, grass, cut it, cut the grass, and maintained it. We've always wanted to buy it," Greg said.

Before they could, they would first have to pay a $24,000 demolition lien.

Instead, because the land bank can waive those liens, the Popils bought the lot next to their home for $100.

"I would like to, in the near future, put something up here. Put a small home out here," Greg added.

County and city officials hope other people follow the Popils' lead. There are more than 100 properties in Scranton that could be purchased through the land bank that are not on the tax rolls now.

County officials told Newswatch 16 there are already more than 20 properties purchased through the land bank. Those buyers will be getting their deeds later this month.