The City of Sharon approved a new Sharon Comprehensive Blight Strategy Plan at a City Council meeting on August 19th. The Plan was the culmination of months of work by the Sharon Blight Task Force, a twenty-four-member group made up of residents, community leaders, and elected officials. The Blight Task Force was assisted by the Housing Alliance of Pennsylvania and its consultant Tom Hardy from Palo Alto Partners using the Housing Alliance publication From Blight to Bright: A Comprehensive Toolkit for Pennsylvania serving as an important resource for the Task Force.
Sharon’s City Council President Molly Bundrant, who participated as a member of the Blight Task Force, remarked, “Fighting blight is a priority in Sharon. The Blight Strategy provides a road map for building upon the work done to date. I appreciate the citizens that volunteered their time to provide input in this planning process.”
The Blight Strategy plan lays out five high-priority strategies to prevent, remediate, and redevelop blighted properties. These strategies include: coordinating with the Mercer County Tax Claim Bureau to block negligent and tax delinquent owners from bidding at sale; prioritizing and demolishing unsafe structures to prepare for reinvestment; utilizing a land bank to return vacant properties to productive use; working with banks and nonprofits to finance home rehabilitations and down payments; and adopting a tax abatement to encourage private development.
The blight planning efforts of the Task Force were funded by the Pennsylvania Department of Community and Economic Development (DCED), which contracted with the Housing Alliance of Pennsylvania to facilitate the planning process and provide technical assistance on implementation. “The city of Sharon benefits from a culture of strong civic engagement. As we know at the Housing Alliance, it is a community-wide effort to remove/remediate blighted properties and turn them into community assets,” said Phyllis Chamberlain, Executive Director of the Housing Alliance. “Community involvement in the prevention, remediation and redevelopment of blighted properties will improve the quality of life for the residents and businesses of Sharon with long-term benefits for decades to come.”
With the approval of the Blight Strategy Plan by Sharon City Council, the process will now move to implementing the Action Plan for each of the priority strategies.