Alle-Kiski editorial: Two different approaches to blight
Don't blame Brackenridge officials if they're a bit envious of their Leechburg counterparts as both grapple with blighted, abandoned properties. Their contrasting situations illustrate the sort of obstacles that local officials throughout the Alle-Kiski Valley can face in dealing with vacant buildings that often present public-safety hazards and block productive redevelopment.
In Brackenridge, officials hope the owner of a vacant Ninth Avenue apartment house, already charged with building-code violations, will pay to repair or demolish it after its second foundation collapse in two years. Posted with a warning sign and surrounded by yellow caution tape, the structure clearly is a hazard. Thus, borough officials are wise to seek county, state and federal money through the Allegheny Valley North Council of Governments to demolish the building — in case its owner doesn't do the right thing and the borough has to take it over.
In Leechburg, by contrast, officials have a clear path for dealing with two blighted Siberian Avenue buildings: Armstrong County's new Blight Abatement Program, which has funding in place. The county will field demolition proposals; Leechburg will contract and initially pay for that work, then be reimbursed by the county.
The larger issue is why such blight-reduction contrasts between communities exist at all. That's an issue that would be addressed best by changes to state law to more effectively hold owners accountable for cleaning up their blighted properties — so local government wouldn't have to.