Communities, legislators find ways to partner to fight blight

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Community leaders say, a declining population, dwindling tax base and absentee landlords lead to blighted properties.
 
And they're hoping local legislators can help turn it around.

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Broken and boarded-up windows, caved-in roofs and overgrown grass are just some of the problems opening up battles of blight throughout Fayette County.
 
"Our small communities have been hit hard over the years with decline in population and decline in jobs in our area; we’re left with the aftermath,” said Jack Lawver, Brownsville council president.
 
Townships, boroughs and municipalities across Fayette and Somerset counties say dilapidated and blighted properties have overcome some of their streets and representations of what their town once was. 
 
"We strive to try and make it somewhere people want to come live -- make it secure for our families, for our children,” said Michael Cetera, chairman of Redstone Township board of supervisors.
 
“The legislators gave us tools to work with, but there's still some glitches that need to be addressed,” Lawver said.
 
It's a problem that goes beyond big cities. State Sen. David Argall is a co-chair on the statewide blight task force. He and state Sen. Pat Stefano brought together local leaders in a public hearing at Penn State Fayette in Lemont Furnace to figure out how to fight the war on blight from the ground up, an issue where revitalization is just as important as razing. 
 
"We need to hear from the people on the ground the people that are fighting the issues and we want to hear what the roadblocks are,” Stefano said. “We have a lot of ideas that came out of today." 
 
Stefano says well there won't be a concrete solution today, he's hoping to get ideas worth sharing in Harrisburg.

 

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