Fayette County communities proceed with proposed land bank to fight blight
Officials from several of the communities meeting to discuss blight in Fayette County met again on Tuesday evening in Connellsville City Hall to lay out plans they deem necessary to form a land bank.
Only Connellsville, South Connellsville and Uniontown were represented, but mood was positive.
“I can say this has been developing good,” said Connellsville Councilman Aaron Zolbrod. “We're all after the same goal, and we're lucky to have Andrew French (of the Redevelopment Authority of Fayette County) here.”
“The whole optimism thing, this is refreshing,” said Connellsville Councilman Thomas Karpiak. “We have a common goal, and we're all pushing for it.”
Discussions focused on how to approach the problem of abandoned properties and how to find the funding for starting a land bank.
Zolbrod, reviewing an issue brought up during the July meeting, asked whether Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) funds could be used to provide seed money for a land bank.
Mark Rafail, executive director of the Uniontown Redevelopment Authority, said there are problems with CDBG funds.
“The issue is CDBG funds can only be used in a designated area for the designated properties,” said Rafail. “We can't say we're going to take that money and put it into a land bank. I can't give it to anybody else (to be used in another municipality.)”
South Connellsville Councilman Clyde Martz said he attended a meeting with Westmoreland County representatives, who are in the process of setting up a land bank by using CDGB funds.
French said such funding can be used toward acquisition and demolition of blighted properties. And the funds can be used for county projects.
The Fayette County group decided that each community should develop a list of properties.
Tom Currey, code-enforcement officer and health officer for Connellsville, said he already has a list of many properties that need attention that he could prioritize.
For other communities, such as South Connellsville, the list might be smaller.
French said he could use the lists to help develop a land bank.
Rafail said he could take such a “white paper” to his council to seek funds for Uniontown's share of start-up costs.
French and Rafail said a seminar might be conducted in Somerset County in October, possibly aided by the Somerset Trust. Representatives were invited from Somerset, Fayette and possibly Westmoreland counties. The seminar will feature a retired official from eastern Pennsylvania who now works as a consultant.
The purpose of the seminar is to familiarize municipal officials with what options are available, such as the way to develop a land bank and what funding paths and grants might be available.
The proposed seminar could solve another problem — how to learn whether other Fayette municipalities are interested in joining in a land bank.
Antoinette Tesauro, city clerk for Connellsville, was asked whether she would send notices to other municipalities.
Zolbrod asked those in attendance if it would be necessary for each municipality to budget in their 2015 spending plans a start-up amount for a land bank.
Rafail and Martz said they believed an amount could be placed in a municipal budget, then moved into another account if the land bank were not started next year.
The next meeting will be at 6:30 p.m. Sept. 30 in Connellsville City Hall.
Karl Polacek is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at email@example.com or 724-626-3538.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Connellsville Area High School German Club to present Oktoberfest Auto Show
- Connellsville hosting Halloween Home-Decorating Contest
- Connellsville Area School Board to ask that state budget be passed
- Fayette fair drew larger crowds, income
- Connellsville wine store fares well
- Farmington arts center dedicates glass studio
- Tours of Nemacolin Castle in Brownsville offer history, ghost stories
- Connellsville voters in Second Ward to report to new polling location
- ‘Rocky Horror’ back in Connellsville
- Bullskin Township Historical Society has its own ‘Iron Furnace Man’
- Touchstone program forges Frazier grad’s interest in art