Neighbors, businesses react as Wilkes-Barre moves closer to demolishing two vacant properties in Miners Mills

By Joe Dolinsky - [email protected] | July 6th, 2015 7:15 pm

By Joe Dolinsky

[email protected]

A vacant property at 245-247 St. Clair St. in Wilkes-Barre is one of two properties the city will level after choosing one of three bids submitted to demolish them. vacant property at 245-247 St. Clair St. in Wilkes-Barre is one of two properties the city will level after choosing one of three bids submitted to demolish them.

WILKES-BARRE — Jen Martin said the eyesore that lurks out the backdoor of her East Main Street workplace needs to go. And soon.

Mice, rats, snakes, damaging debris — Martin said she’s experienced them all as a result of a longtime vacant home behind Champion Pools & Spas in Wilkes-Barre.

But Martin may be closer than ever to seeing her wish granted, as the city on Monday inched closer to demolishing the property at 245-247 St. Clair St., along with another vacant property nearby Miller Street.

“It’s falling apart or just falling down,” she said. “It just needs to be out of here.”

Martin, 35, said she’s been working at the business since 2011 and conditions of the property there haven’t changed.

“Nothing’s being done with it. Nothing’s different,” she said. “It would be different if someone was living there or renting it but it’s empty. And it’s not like the city doesn’t know about it.”

Nick Cave, with the city’s Office of Economic Development, said Monday three bids have been received for demolition and clearance of the two sites in Miners Mills and the city will now go through the process of narrowing down the choices.

“Once the numbers get tabulated we get the copies to the city attorney to review the specs to make sure they meet everything,” Cave said.

Cave said a contract is generally awarded within a 90-day window but that this particular process shouldn’t take any more than a week.

Seeing the property crumble can’t come soon enough for Martin, who said she can’t recall a time when the property was ever in good condition or properly maintained. Located near the property for over a decade, the rear of Champion Pools uses a parking lot that surrounds the condemned home.

On one occasion, a shingle blew off the property’s roof and cracked the window of her father’s truck, which was parked out back at the time. She said she’s also had to set up traps to keep mice and other pests from getting into her building.

While rodents are one thing, Martin said she’s more concerned about her safety.

“When I’m going out there, I don’t know if anybody’s hiding in those bushes,” she said. “I’m just worried one of those times I go out there, somebody is going to be waiting.”

Another neighbor, Sandy Hutz, has lived two doors from the property since 2006. Then, she said, squatters would be in and out of the home on a regular basis.

While that has since ceased, the property continues to deteriorate. She believes every day the home remains upright, the lower the property value of each home nearby will plummet.

“It makes the entire street look gross,” Hutz said.

Miller Street property

The second property slated for demolition, at 63 1/2 Miller Street, is less than a tenth of a mile away.

When visited by a reporter Monday, the owners of the property, who asked not to be identified by name, said they couldn’t afford to demolish the home themselves after it was willed to them by a family member. The owners said they continue to pay property taxes on the home.

The home’s front half is dilapidated and the roof appears to have partially collapsed. But the couple maintained there weren’t many issues with the property other than its appearance.

It was empty since at least 2002, they said.

Joe Dolinsky can be reached at 570-991-6110 or on Twitter @JoeDolinskyTL