WILKES-BARRE – Gov. Edward Rendell on Wednesday announced that the state will provide $750,000 to demolish the fire-damaged Murray-Courtright Building.
This is what the state government should do when a disaster strikes a small city. A fire like this one can really strain the services and budget of a cash strapped town and the Gov realizes that. He was a Mayor himself and knows that the local tax base is barely enough to cover the costs of police, fire protection, snow plowing and filling potholes. Anything extra has to come from somewhere else. Mayor Tom Leighton said the city will transfer $250,000 from federal community development block grants (CDBG) to fund the demolition. That means less streets will be paved but this is an emergency. Speaking of CDBG's, where is Kanjorski in all of this?
The complex of buildings at the corner of Courtright and Darling streets in W-B has been a disaster waiting to happen for a long time. The city has ignored the place for 20 or 30 years despite constant complaints from the neighbors.
The building that burned is only one of many. Next to it is old Central Slipper factory next to Tank Hill that has been a shell of a structure with all the windows broken out, crumbling bricks and rotting floors. If you go down Darling Street behind the fire scene the ancient smokestack still is standing and across Darling Street there are more buildings. One of them housed a footwear manufacturer for many years before shoe making was moved offshore. My Dad worked at that last operation owned by the now bankrupt Carter Rubber Co. and I grew up about 2 blocks away.
Knocking down all the structures is not going to happen any time soon.