Tarentum is considering getting into the building demolition business.
Council President Erika Josefoski is suggesting the borough buy its own equipment, such as an excavator.
The borough could use the equipment to tear down abandoned and dilapidated buildings instead of hiring a contractor.
The borough has a big enough budget for demolitions this year to do it, according to Borough Manager Michael Nestico. It has $150,000 earmarked for demolitions; there had once been as little as $10,000, Josefoski said.
The borough wants to tear down about a dozen buildings this year, Nestico said. If the borough used part of the money to buy equipment, there would be fewer demolitions this year, but the borough would be able to do more going forward.
More information is needed and several issues need to be addressed before a decision is made, possibly in April, Josefoski said. They include finding out what equipment is needed and its cost, the cost of insurance and the ability of the borough’s employees to do the work.
“We want to look at our options, weigh them out, then decide how to proceed,” she said.
If the borough buys equipment, Councilwoman Carrie Fox questioned where it would be kept. She also questioned whether the borough has the staffing for the work and whether it could raise contractual issues.
Should the borough proceed, code enforcement officer Anthony Bruni said the borough would undertake only demolitions with easy and clear access.
A contractor would be hired for jobs that are more complex and when buildings are close to others.
Bruni said the borough would benefit from having its own equipment by being able to respond faster in an emergency, such as after a fire, and that the equipment could be used for other work, such as waterline breaks.
If the borough opts not to buy equipment, Josefoski said, it would go back to seeking bids from contractors for the work this year.
Also related to abandoned properties, the borough is removing electric meters and taking service lines back to the pole on such properties. The borough may file liens against the properties to recover the costs of that work, as suggested by borough Solicitor David Regoli.
Borough officials also are considering starting a “Red X” program, which would mark the most dangerous buildings in the borough.
Buildings that would be marked are not necessarily up for demolition, Bruni said. It would serve as a warning to first-responders, such as firefighters, not to make an aggressive effort to enter and save a building and instead focus on protecting surrounding structures.