SHENANDOAH – This afternoon, Senator David G. Argall (R-Berks/Schuylkill), Representative Neal Goodman (D-Schuylkill) and Borough and County Officials attended the demolition of thirteen homes that were destroyed by an arson fire in Shenandoah back in 2016.
The demolition was made possible due to the $1.4 million grant that was awarded to Schuylkill County’s demolition program from the Department of Community & Economic Development last year.
In a letter written to state officials by Argall one week after the fire, he mentioned that Shenandoah, like many other aging communities with population declines across Pennsylvania, simply does not have an extra $100,000 in its budget, therefore the need to address demolition funding is critical.
Schuylkill County officials celebrated the midway point of dozens of demolition projects that have either been completed or are planned for later this year using this funding to enhance the community. According to Argall, the county estimated that approximately 50 demolition projects would be funded through this grant. To date, there are 56 properties that have either been demolished or are in the bid process. He attributes this increase in projects that will help more communities to the fact that bids are coming in at lower amounts than expected.
“The revitalization of our communities is essential in order to boost economic growth and create more opportunities for local residents, and today we are here to celebrate one of the biggest projects to date because of this funding,” said Argall. “Despite Pennsylvania having some of the toughest laws in the nation when it comes to fighting blight, the problem lies in the fact that many municipalities lack the necessary funds to demolish blighted buildings and properties. I am glad that I fought to bring this funding back home to Schuylkill County because we now have the necessary tools to make our communities grow.”
Goodman applauded the program’s results. “This is another example of how the demolition fund is changing the face of Schuylkill County for the better. State lawmakers can give local officials a lot of tools to fight blight, but at the end of the day, funding for projects such as this one is the biggest hammer in the toolbox,” said Goodman. “Also, this project is exactly the type of project I had in mind for the demolition fund. We were able to bundle several properties together in one project so we can get more bang for our buck.”
Schuylkill County Commissioner Gary Hess also noted the program’s success across the county. “Several municipalities such as the Borough of Shenandoah have taken down properties in disrepair and have generated a resurgence that has made our communities thrive,” stated Hess. “We appreciate Senator Argall’s efforts in getting this funding for Schuylkill County and we are glad to see that the demolition program has been a widespread success.”
Argall shared the same sentiment regarding the program’s triumph over blight. “I believe that our demolition program is one of the best in Pennsylvania. Our commissioners, along with Gary Bender and his staff, work diligently with municipalities to utilize their limited resources in the smartest ways possible and the community and I are grateful for all of their hard work.”
Schuylkill County Commissioner George Halcovage and County Administrator Gary Bender offered their appreciation to Senator Argall and Representatives Tobash, Knowles and Goodman for bringing in the necessary funds for the demolition program. “The Board of Commissioners is proud of our demolition program in Schuylkill County and we are thankful for the cooperation of local municipalities with the program. Together we are fighting blight and making our communities a better place to live.”
Contact: Sakura Ung