Connellsville Authority Seeks Resolutions on Land Bank
Land Bank Update
August 21, 2015
Communities that are interested in joining Connellsville in initiating a land bank designed to eliminate blight will be required to adopt resolutions indicating their interest in the program.
“We need to know which communities want to join Connellsville to support the land bank,” said Geno Gallo, a member of the Connellsville Redevelopment Authority and the administrative assistant for Fayette County Commissioner Al Ambrosini. “Each municipality that is interested in the land bank would need to appoint an elected individual to serve on the board.”
Tom Curry, Connellsville code enforcement officer, explained that Connellsville cannot begin the land bank on its own because a population of 10,000 people is required. In 2012, the city’s population was just over 7,500.
Representatives from Dunbar and South Connellsville were invited to a meeting Thursday at Connellsville City Hall to determine if their communities would be interested in participating in the program, Curry said.
“We only have a few properties that go to the tax sale in Dunbar,” said Tammy Nedrow, the borough’s secretary. “But we’re here to support our neighbors. I don’t think the land bank would benefit us as much as it would Connellsville. This is something that we can take back to council for discussion.”
Michael Edwards, executive director of the Connellsville Redevelopment Authority, said foundations will want to see a plan before they will agree to provide funding for the land bank
“We need grant money to help get it started,” Edwards said. “We will need a list of blighted properties.”
In addition to the list, Connellsville Councilman Brad Geyer, who works for state Sen. Pat Stefano, said a narrative needs to be written so the foundations would be aware of how dire the blight problem is in the Connellsville area.
“It’s not just bad in Connellsville. It’s a problem all over Fayette County,” Gallo said. “The three Fayette County commissioners are well aware of this problem. The mayor of Brownsville recently came to the commissioners seeking help for the blight in his community.”
Nedrow said Westmoreland County recently implemented a land bank for the entire county.
“Westmoreland County has had success with the program,” Nedrow said. “We need to get in touch with them to find out what steps they took to implement the program. That would give us an idea of what we need to do to get started.”
Westmoreland established its land bank program early last year. The program acquires properties with tax liens or foreclosures, then rehabilitates or demolishes the buildings before resale.
Fourteen municipalities of the 65 in Westmoreland County have joined the land bank with a one-time $5,000 fee.
Last year, Connellsville and representatives from other communities gathered to discuss formation of a land bank. However, after several meetings, talks were halted.