PITTSTON -- Pittston's downtown has transformed over the years, attracting more businesses and development. Now city leaders hope to do the same to about 200 rundown properties— including a home on Underwood Lane.
A home there has sat empty for almost a decade. Its windows are shattered and the roof appears to be falling in. Folks who live nearby call it a safety hazard.
“That's the only thing I worry about is it catching on fire and somebody getting hurt or whatever,” said Jane Venetz, who lives near it.
“Not are they not only not producing taxes, the blight they cause in the neighborhood causes a loss of tax revenue on the adjacent properties,” said Pittston City Administrator Joe Moskovitz.
But Moskovitz said the city is trying to change that. About a year ago, the city joined with nearby municipalities to form an authority called a ‘landbank,’ which would forgive any back taxes on a property, then either renovate it or sell it in hopes of getting the property back on tax rolls.
But for the landbank to be useful, Luzerne County and the Pittston Area School District need to agree to forgive the back taxes on those properties. Moskovitz said Luzerne County would do that if the Pittston Area School District agrees to it, but there's no word yet if that will happen.
“We need the cooperation of our partners, the school district and the county, in order to make this successful,” Moskovitz said. He and members of the landbank will urge the school board to be a part of the program when the board votes on it.
Some people in Pittston say the landbank sounds like a good idea.
“If it's gonna beautify it, make it better, sure, why not!" Venetz said.
The Pittston Area School Board could vote on the issue Wednesday night.