Eyesores Galore: What’s the Story?

LACKAWANNA COUNTY -- When you look, really look, at what's all around us here in northeastern Pennsylvania, what do you see?

From the city to the countryside there's a lot to take in. A lot of it is pleasant but some, not so much.

We didn't have to go far from the Newswatch 16 studios to find what many would call eyesores in plain sight off Interstate 81 in Lackawanna County.

A sprawling junkyard, massive power lines cutting through residential areas and previously untouched mountainsides, and towering over everything else -- a landfill.

"It's a walking contradiction," said Pat Clark. "We have a beautiful valley here with beautiful scenery and aesthetics except we do things like build landfills that will be the biggest structure in this area by a mile."

Pat Clark is with Friends of Lackawanna, a group trying to, among other things, stop a plan to expand the Keystone Sanitary Landfill.

We stood at the edge of a reservoir in Dunmore while the garbage trucks rolled by taking more and more garbage to the landfill with peaks that tower in the distance.

From where Clark and Friends of Lackawanna stand, it's worth the fight from an environmental standpoint, as well as property values and the region's overall self-image.

"We have to get out of the habit of shooting ourselves in the foot. We repeatedly do that because for too long we say that's the way it is. Let it go. It's time to start changing that."

The fight over the landfill centers partly on zoning. Most municipalities have the detailed rules on what's OK and what's not, all to "promote and protect public health, safety, as well as preserve natural, scenic and historic values."

That's right from Dunmore and Throop's zoning ordinances, which officials have started the process of updating after nearly two decades.

Right now, landfills and junkyards are permitted by zoning laws. The landfill and the junkyard, owned by Louis DeNaples, are in industrial or manufacturing zones and both predate the zoning on the books, meaning they're grandfathered in.

"They're here, not much we can do about it, whether you like it or not. They're legacy elements of life in northeastern Pennsylvania," Bob Durkin said.

Durkin heads up the economic development in the area as president of the Greater Scranton Chamber of Commerce. He spoke with Newswatch 16 at the Jessup Small Business Park which is constantly adding new business and reclaiming scarred coal mining land.

"We're our own worst critics. Look around these hills. It's beautiful right now. It's a great valley. Aesthetically, it's as green as it's been in 100 years. Frankly, we intend to balance that with our economic development," said Durkin.

The Alliance Landfill in Taylor is owned by Waste Management, and to give you some perspective, more than 150 years ago, the company says this was the site of deep coal mining, meaning the area was scarred. By the 1930s, strip mining scarred it even more, resembling the surface of the moon. By the 1950s, this was an unregulated dump, meaning it contaminated the soil and water. But some 30 years ago, the Alliance Landfill as it is now began operating under strict environmental regulations.

Inside the Lackawanna County Historical Society, you get an idea of what the Scranton area looked like before industrialization. Then anthracite coal mining left this valley scarred for the better part of a century.

Today, neighborhoods and businesses have cropped up and for his part, Durkin isn't aware of developers who've shied away from northeastern Pennsylvania for any amount of negative image.

Still, the fight continues to contain, if not fix, the scars on the landscape that make some eyes sore.


  • Denny’s sunglasses

    Heard that from Pottsville to Orwigsburg they’re making renovations ito turn it into a big toilet for everyone to crap on. Oh wait, turds have been floating there ever since that shady high ridge park deal.

    • finger

      Meager pay after the taxpayers picked up the tab to create jobs? Noooo! That is impossible. Our money goes to billionaires. You’re welcome. Violin music doesn’t set the mood just right.

      • finger

        Barely anybody will get that joke. Landfills and gambling places make the most damage. Lets bitch about the motorcyclists doing their thing in the comments that nobody will read.

    • finger

      It is a lot more than 3. What places aren’t unpleasing to the eye in NEPA? It is mostly policies that champion the crooks and relegate the working class to slave status. We’ve seen the exodus from our small towns increase or turn into modern day opium dens otherwise. Where do we have hope to continue living here? Love those politics that help to kill kids with drugs or make personal ZIP codes change to get away from it. One of the best places to know in the world, but easily susceptible to a lot of nothings that do not matter in life according to everybody here. Do we live? Does life challenge us enough? We may be blessed.

    • finger

      It sucks that there is NO chance in He** of ever makin these towns vibrant again. They should be in my opinion. People got greedy and took the easy money in trade for the historical significance that once worked together to build a great nation. It obviously happened at the higher levels first, and we should’ve seen it coming around the bend. It is here now. Now, what do we do? Stand up? Or just be counted?

      • warningfakenews

        Underscoring that thought on a national level. Pay particular attention to the last phrase:

        “A democracy cannot exist as a permanent form of government. It can only exist until the people discover they can vote themselves largess out of the public treasury. From that moment on, the majority always votes for the candidate promising the most benefits from the public treasury, with the result that democracy always collapses over a loose fiscal policy–to be followed by a dictatorship.”
        ― Alexander Fraser Tytler

      • finger

        Loose fiscal policy followed by dictatorship is just about right. I’m not ‘this’ or ‘that’ by definition, and I don’t care where you are at in the stream. Do any of you notice what is happening and how it would happen just the same regardless of affiliation? We are worried about banging into the trees when we should be jerking off in the forest… Or something like that. Nobody will listen to us. Might as well fun it.

      • warningfakenews

        True, Finger. You have politicians who overtly let you know they intend to do great damage to our democracy and those who pretend to be interested in thwarting them, while doing nothing whatsoever except fundraise off of people’s desire to see real change.

        Meanwhile, whenever a person who might not play this game comes up, the two factions unite (along with the corporate media) to do all they can to prevent their game from being disrupted- all while Rome burns.

    • Sexchief

      You’re forgetting about Schuylkill County. The biggest eye sores there attend borough council meetings, high school football games, and PTO meetings.

  • finger

    Whenever I traveled a decade ago, I always felt a sense of relief coming home to NEPA. The last couple of times it seems like when everybody was paid good at the job and I came back to mass poverty? I really didn’t want to be here. I used to feel pride, now I feel contempt for those that have obviously screwed it up and I want to leave rather than pay taxes for corrupt systems that let kids get hooked on drugs. When you are the one type that has some money in an area, you feel like a target and need to leave. It sucks, but if you have been targeted for monetary gains to continue actual criminality? You’re gonna bounce.

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