Gov. Wolf’s Administration Takes a Look at Blight

MAHANOY CITY, Pa. -- Members of Governor Tom Wolf's administration were in parts of Schuylkill County on Thursday, taking a look at areas full of blight.

This is all part of the "Restore Pennsylvania" project that looks to restore some of these communities.

Blighted properties are a serious issue in places like Shenandoah. When the houses there were built, there was so much hope, but those days are long gone.

Condemned properties aren't just an issue in Schuylkill County, though for Gov. Wolf's administration, this is considered a statewide problem.

"We have old infrastructure. We have old communities. Our housing stock is old. It's time to make an investment or we're going to be too late," said Rick Vilello, deputy secretary of community affairs and development.

Members of Gov. Wolf's team toured parts of Schuylkill County, checking out the blight that litters some of the communities. This is all part of the "Restore Pennsylvania" project a $4.5 billion proposal funded through a severance tax. The project would aim to increase financial resources at the local level to tear down condemned properties.

"Every success that we have in our community really pushes forward the pride of that community and it's great for economic development, it's great for the local people. It's exciting. You want to make sure people are living in a safe area and also an area that gives you that sense of pride," said Schuylkill County Commissioner George Halcovage.

Those who live in these communities want to see blight eradicated because they see potential here and acknowledge that property values are affordable.

"I've realized that moving here, you get a lot of house for your money here. You look at houses of comparable sizes in other areas, it's nowhere near as reasonable as here," Pat Mullins said.

The severance tax would be imposed on the natural gas industry.

Gov. Wolf has tried to pass that tax four straight years and failed, but this time he's promoting specific projects like this it would pay for.

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