Last updated: March 17. 2013 3:00AM - 642 Views
By - jlynott@timesleader.com - (570) 991-6120

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WILKES-BARRE ‚?? The city plans to display items of historical significance taken from the Hotel Sterling under an agreement to be submitted to the state regarding the demolition of the landmark building.

City council next week will vote on a resolution authorizing Mayor Tom Leighton and other city officials to sign a memorandum of agreement that will be sent to the state Historic Preservation Office.

It‚??s a significant procedural advancement, Drew McLaughlin, the city‚??s administrative coordinator, said Friday. ‚??This is progress,‚?Ě he said.

The agreement outlines how the city fulfilled its obligations under the National Historic Preservation Act of 1966 and the steps it will take to mitigate any adverse effects.

The city plans to salvage certain items and display them at City Hall, McLaughlin said. Other items would be transferred to the Luzerne County Historical Society, he said.

Pending clearance from the state, the city then will seek permission from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development to use federal money instead of the $232,729 the county committed for the demolition. The city would add the money to the $260,000 in local share gambling account funds it earmarked for the demolition.

The agreement moves the city a step closer to razing the deteriorating building and preparing the site for development.

The structure in the corner of North River and West Market streets, listed on the National Register of Historic Places, has been vacant since 1988 and fallen into disrepair.

The nonprofit organization CityVest stepped in and attempted to preserve the building, but ran out of money. At least $7 million in government funds was spent on the project.

CityVest and the county, which provided much of the funding, have been at odds over the demolition, and the delay has created significant safety risks.

Since September 2011, the city has been spending $5,000 a month on barriers for traffic detours around the building.

Last month the city said it would proceed on its own and had been in contact with HUD and the state Historic Preservation Office about its plans for the demolition.

What‚??s next

Wilkes-Barre City Council will hold a work session at 6 p.m. Tuesday and discuss a resolution authorizing city officials to sign a memorandum of agreement necessary to obtain the funding necessary to demolish the Hotel Sterling.

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