Clearfield County is seeking grant money to revitalize a town with a number of blighted buildings.
It’s not hard to find a blighted building on the main street of Coalport. But now, the county is looking to do something about it.
Lisa Kovalick, a community development specialist at the Clearfield Redevelopment Authority, told 6 News they consider “blighted” building as “a vacant building that’s left without any utilities attached to it,…has been just left in dire straits.”
“Anything left vacant for over a year without heat is gonna fall into major disrepair. So, we have some properties up there that have typically fallen into disrepair over [a] 10-year period that basically need [to be] taken down.”
But, why does blight happen? Kovalick tells us: “The No. 1 reason for blight is lack of code enforcement.”
“When you don’t have anyone and you don’t adopt any code enforcement or property maintenance code,…you can let your property go into disrepair; and when you let your property go into disrepair, although some feel that it doesn’t have an impact on them, it does.”
It especially impact property values.
“The other thing it affects that people don’t think about is the fire insurance. I mean, if you’re living in an area with prevalent blight, your fire insurance is gonna be higher because there’s much more of a chance for fire in your area than in somewhere that’s more kept-up.”
Kovalick tells us they just submitted the application for a grant from the Department of Community and Economic Development. The funds from that would go toward the redevelopment of certain Coalport properties.
“Coalport was brought to my attention probably 11 years ago that they need some help with what’s happening in their area,”
“And I’m not gonna say that demolishing these places is the end-all-be-all some of them. And what we’ve done here in Clearfield County and through the Redevelopment Authority is, we created a blight prevention program utilizing DCED home funds,” she said, adding that “we’re putting $100,000 into homes to help keep them on the market.”
However, she says the CRA would sign an agreement with the municipalities, then they will take a look at which property needs what.
“We’ve already been taking properties down across the county. And so, my estimates are coming in anywhere from 22 to $25,000 to take down a property.”
We know now what usually causes blight. But what cures blight?
“When you’re taking the property down, you’re basically preventing the blight from returning by doing that,” Kovalick explained, “and you sell it as a side lot.”
“Besides that, if we’re doing rehab on any properties, we do put a lien on the property for five-year period. Now it’s a forgivable lien over that five-year period. But during that time, we’re kind of doing our due diligence on making sure that they’re adhering to taking care of the property.”
She says the grant could be approved as early as Spring 2023.