Demolition Cleanup in Hazleton

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HAZLETON -- On Thursday, workers finally started removing the debris from an apartment building in Hazleton that was hit by fire a year ago.

It's not pretty, and it's loud, but neighbors who live along McKinley Street in Hazleton are happy to hear the sounds of a demolition cleanup.

"It feels good, finally, finally, you know? After almost a year of it just sitting there, finally, it feels good," said Belisa Ramos of Hazleton.

Before the pile of debris, here stood a vacant home. It was an apartment building that was hit by fire last April.

But the landlord, Lyla Younes, lives in New Jersey and only paid Penn Earthworks last year to take the building down, not to clear the debris.

"The city didn`t have the money to clean it up on our own dime, and we needed to figure out a way to hold the owners responsible," said Hazleton Police Chief Frank DeAndrea.

Chief DeAndrea said the city cited the landlord for $30,000 worth of code violations. Officials promised to charge her if she didn't clean up the mess. This week, she paid the rest of what she owed for the demolition.

Another example of blight that city officials are hoping to get rid of is an old bar.

"The city, through the mayor`s office, decided we cannot allow these absentee landlords to get away with this," said Chief DeAndrea.

But some neighbors said that's easier said than done.

"They should try anyway, but it`s hard to get, look how long it took to get this guy, this lady here to do this work. They live out of town. They don`t care," said Terry Woodring, of Hazleton.

City officials plan to meet with the landlord soon. The debris cleanup is expected to be done by Saturday.