Those convened at Goodwill at North — the site of the first of four meetings to be held as part of a burgeoning Blight to Bright program administered by the Lackawanna County Land Bank — pinballed between different descriptions of problem properties, including the abandoned, unkempt and overgrown. Then they narrowed the scope, identifying blight issues in specific Scranton neighborhoods.
Many blighted properties in the city’s Hill Section, for example, are multi-family, residential dwellings, some occupied and some unoccupied, former Hill Section resident Brian Mattson said.
Scranton Treasurer Wayne Beck, born and raised in South Side but now of East Mountain, said blighted properties in his former neighborhood often belong to apathetic, out-of-state owners. “If it’s a person who has an interest in their investment … it’s fine,” Beck said. “But if not, you end up with some problems.”
The exercise of assessing the nature and extent of blight in a community is the second step of blight expert Christopher Gulotta’s five-step process to tackle the issue. Gulotta, whose blight-fighting strategies have been successfully implemented elsewhere in the state, led Wednesday’s meeting and will lead the three that follow.
An early goal of the Blight to Bright program, which the land bank is conducting in partnership with Neighborworks Northeastern Pennsylvania, is to collect feedback from residents at those meetings before moving through the next three steps of Gulotta’s process: convene a blight task force; engage municipal officials; and
identify priority action steps and implement those steps.