Wilkes-Barre Looking To Develop Downtown Sites

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting Luzerne County

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting Luzerne County (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

WILKES-BARRE, PA — The city is shopping its downtown properties cleared during emergency demolition and sweetening the offer with the prospect of tax exemptions associated with a Keystone Opportunity Zone.

The city condemned its vacant structures last October that were in danger of collapse and entered a $194,861 contract to tear them down while leaving stand two other privately owned buildings located in the middle of the cluster.

Earlier this week, the city put out a request for proposals for development of the properties at 69, 71, 73-75 S. Main St. with a March 6 response deadline. The city would like to see multistory, mixed-use development on the site to include ground-floor specialty retail shops and restaurants and office or residential space above, similar to the University Corners property across the street.

Read more: http://timesleader.com/news/local-news/1158435/City-looking-to-develop-sites

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Latest Phase Of Wilkes-Barre Streetscape Project Completed

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting Luzerne County

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting Luzerne County (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

WILKES-BARRE, PA — State and federal funds paid for the latest phase of the city’s latest streetscape project, and Mayor Tom Leighton on Thursday said more money will be sought to complete the improvements downtown.

Sheltered from the rain under the overhang of an office building on Public Square, Leighton and more than a dozen state, city and local economic development officials stood on a section of concrete sidewalk poured in the summer and marked the completion of Phase 5 of the project with a ribbon cutting.

The mayor thanked the downtown businesses for their patience during construction that brought new walks, trees and curbing on a quarter of the Square from South Main Street to North Main Street and along East Market Street to Washington Street.

Read more: http://timesleader.com/news/local-news/950645/Latest-phase-of-W-B-streetscape-project-completed

Six Arrested In Wilkes-Barre Drug Sting

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting Luzerne County

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting Luzerne County (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

WILKES-BARRE, PA — Six alleged drug dealers were arrested in different sections of the city Friday, according to a press release from city hall.

In the Heights neighborhood, two men — Lance Smith, 23, no known address and Terrell Watson, 24, of Philadelphia — were caught by investigators who had posed as buyers, police said.

Smith agreed to sell MDMA, or Ecstasy, to undercover officers near the Sherman Hills apartment complex, police said.  Police say they captured him as he tried to flee.

Watson was arrested near Horton and Roosevelt streets, where police say he agreed to sell heroin to undercover officers. Police allege Watson was in possession of heroin and marijuana.

Read more: http://www.timesleader.com/news/local-news/851337/

Wilkes-Barre Lists 51 Rental Properties Cited By Code Enforcement

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting Luzerne County

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting Luzerne County (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

WILKES-BARRE — A day after council took the first step to approve an amendment toughening the city’s rental ordinance, the code enforcement office listed more than 5o citations to property owners over a four-month period.

More than half of the 51 properties have out-of-town owners, a point stressed by Mayor Tom Leighton when he proposed the amendment to crack down on problem properties contributing to the rise in violent crime.

City spokeswoman Liza Prokop said the timing of the release of the list was unrelated to the pending amendment.

In an e-mail Wednesday she said, “It is standard practice for the city to release information on code violations.”

Read more: http://www.timesleader.com/news/local-news/754179/City-lists-51-rental-properties-cited-by-code-enforcement

Landlords question Wilkes-Barre’s ‘One-Strike’ Rental Policy

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting Luzerne County

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting Luzerne County (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

WILKES-BARRE — A proposed ordinance to “get tough” on crime by targeting problem rental properties passed the first reading by City Council on Tuesday night, and drew a mixed response from residents and landlords.

The amendment that sets a “one-strike” limit for landlords or tenants who know of gun and drug crimes committed on the property still needs a second reading at council’s Sept. 12 meeting before it can be enacted 10 days later.

But landlord Chris Puma of Ashley cautioned against proceeding with the amendment and suggested that instead of “punishing the landlord” the city hire more police and code enforcement officers.

He presented a scenario in which the six-month shutdown of a property as stated in the amendment cuts off the revenue for a landlord who has no knowledge of his tenant’s criminal activity.  From there, the landlord conceivably can’t pay the taxes, the property ends up at a sheriff’s sale and the city loses tax revenue.

Read more: http://www.timesleader.com/news/local-news/752677/Landlords-question-one-strike

Glodzik Owes $519K In Taxes

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting Luzerne County

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting Luzerne County (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

WILKES-BARRE — On top of criminal charges and an upcoming deposition in a federal court case, add unpaid taxes to the list of problems facing Leo A. Glodzik III.

The state Thursday filed a $519,204 lien against Glodzik, saying he has not paid taxes on his personal income since 2006.

He owes $371,603 in taxes plus $147,565 in penalties and interest and the $36 filing fee paid by the state, according to the lien.  The next highest amount owed in the county was $336,066 by Super Luxury Tours Inc. of Wilkes-Barre, according to the state.

Glodzik declined comment Friday when reached by phone.

Read more:  http://www.timesleader.com/news/local-news/618950/Glodzik-owes-$519K-in-taxes

Data Supports Mayor; Crime Down In Wilkes-Barre

WILKES-BARRE — Although residents at a council meeting expressed disbelief at Mayor Tom Leighton’s comment crime is down in the city, statistics are on his side.

Data from the Pennsylvania State Police Uniform Crime Reporting System showed a 5.06 percent decrease in known offenses in a year-to-year comparison as of Friday.

Leighton attributed the public’s perception of increased crime to officers making more arrests, and again the reporting system supports him.  There were 811 total arrests as of Friday compared to 798 for June 14, 2012.

The offense and arrest totals do not match up because arrests have yet to be made in many of the reported crimes.

Read more: http://www.timesleader.com/news/local-news/600344/Data-supports-mayor;-crime-down-in-W-B

Union Head: Wilkes-Barre Cutting 11 Firefighters

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting Luzerne County

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting Luzerne County (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Wilkes-Barre city will lay off 11 firefighters effective this Saturday, the president of the Wilkes-Barre Firefighters Association said today.

“It feels like I got hit by a truck,” said President Mike Bilski.

Bilski met today with Mayor Tom Leighton, who informed Bilski of the city’s decision.  Bilski said he notified all of his union members.

Leighton has warned of layoffs since October when he asked the city’s nearly 290 employees for voluntary furloughs and retirements.

Read more:  http://thetimes-tribune.com/news/union-head-wilkes-barre-cutting-11-firefighters-1.1410036