Luzerne County votes to spend $614K to tear down span owned by tower.

Last updated: July 29. 2013 12:21AM - 4610 Views
By - jandes@civitasmedia.com - (570) 991-6388



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The recent approval of public funds to demolish a deteriorating railroad bridge owned by embattled tower Leo A. Glodzik III has prompted questions on how he acquired the bridge in the first place and why he didn’t tear it down as promised.


Glodzik, 42, has become the subject of heightened scrutiny because he faces theft charges, a $519,204 state lien for unpaid personal income taxes and a civil suit alleging “insider trading” in his failed attempt to buy the Old River Road Bakery from Wilkes-Barre.


Glodzik’s alleged theft of $2,100 from a vehicle has caused Wilkes-Barre officials to suspend a $50,050 annual towing contract with his company, LAG Towing.


According to public records and past and present interviews:


Glodzik bought the bridge from the Luzerne County Redevelopment Authority in 2007.


The authority inherited the bridge, which was not open to vehicular traffic, as part of a railroad acquisition, and authority officials said they wanted it torn down because it was deteriorating and not linked to active rail service.


County engineers had identified the bridge over the Susquehanna River as a potential flood hazard and had been pressing the authority to do something about it. The span connects the Coxton Rail Yards to the Harding section of Exeter Township.


The authority publicly sought proposals to demolish the structure, and Michigan-based Dorr Associates was the only company to respond.


Authority members expected the demolition would cost the authority, but Dorr offered to pay the authority $500 for the span. The company believed removal costs were less than the estimated $49,000 it would receive in steel scrap value, and the authority approved the sale in July 2007.


Dorr Associates later revoked its offer, and the authority voted to accept the company’s withdrawal in September 2007.


2007 sale of bridge


United Sanitation Network Inc., which had submitted a bid to demolish a hazardous railroad trestle in Edwardsville, stepped up and offered to buy the bridge for the same $500, and the authority publicly approved that sale in November 2007.


United Sanitation is listed at the address of one of Glodzik’s properties on Foote Avenue, Duryea. The $500 check to the authority was signed by Glodzik, doing business as LAG.


County Community Development Director Andrew Reilly, who also serves as interim redevelopment authority director, said a bill of sale transferred the bridge to Glodzik. Though there was an understanding Glodzik would tear down the structure, Reilly found no contract stipulating the demolition must be completed or establishing a deadline.


Glodzik was never required to record a deed or pay property taxes on the bridge because the county considered it personal property that did not include land, officials say.


County Flood Protection Authority members questioned the status of the bridge removal in October 2011 because the span sustained further damage from record Susquehanna flooding a few weeks earlier. Officials said two stone pillars supporting the bridge had eroded, and debris often caught on the piers, causing back-up.


The Redevelopment Authority solicitor sent a letter to Glodzik that month conveying the flood authority’s concern that the structure “is in danger of collapse.”


Reilly said there is no record of a reply from Glodzik in authority files.


Glodzik could not be reached for comment Friday.


In August 2012, Glodzik told a reporter he was negotiating a deal to sell the bridge to a scrap company. He said his engineers inspected the bridge and concluded it was not going to fall. “That bridge will be there a hundred years from now,” he said at the time.


Federal funds allocated


County council last week approved a $10 million federal flood recovery project list that included $614,600 to demolish the bridge.


Reilly said the amount is based on an engineer’s estimate. Former county engineer Jim Brozena estimated the tear-down at a minimum $500,000 a year ago, largely because a causeway must be built on the river to remove the bridge.


If the project costs less, the difference will be allocated to other flood recovery projects approved by council, Reilly said.


The county could require demolition contractors to provide any salvage income to the county or allow contractors to factor the scrap value into their bids to reduce the county’s up-front expense, he said.


County assistant solicitor Stephen Menn said he is researching the legal requirements to demolish the privately-owned property and the possibility of filing liens against Glodzik’s properties in an attempt to recoup at least some of the demolition expense.


Glodzik owns at least five properties — three in Wilkes-Barre and two in Duryea, records show. In addition to the state lien, he owes property taxes from 2011 and 2012 on the Duryea properties. His property on Morgan Drive in Wilkes-Barre also is in foreclosure proceedings.


 
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