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Wednesday, September 10, 2014

More Improvements to Downtown Bradford;
More on the Way Throughout the City

The improvements to Downtown Bradford keep on coming, and plans are in the works to step up the fight against blight in residential areas as well.

City Council on Tuesday authorized loans to Rookies to building a deck and pave two parking lots; Shelley Wright to fix the roof on 80-82 Main Street (Wright’s Music Shed); and The Aud to buy the Boylston Street building the restaurant currently occupies.

Even City Hall is getting a face lift. Council approved a payment to Shembeda Floor Covering to install carpeting on the front steps of the building and Room 103. They also awarded a bid to Hennard Construction for renovations to the third floor, including city council chambers.

While the focus in recent months has been the revitalization and restoration Fifth Ward resident Pat Girard told council she believes the city is ignoring neighborhoods.

She said she thinks code enforcement should be working to make sure the outsides of properties are maintained better, and that landlords are living up to their responsibilities as far as upkeep of buildings and properties.

One of her concerns was West Washington Street and West Corydon, both on the route to the University of Pittsburgh at Bradford. Girard is afraid people visiting the campus will get a bad impression of the city because of the conditions of some of the buildings.

Mayor Tom Riel said council has recognized the problem and is working to fix it. In fact, during the meeting council authorized on first reading the creation of two property management officers – at $35,000 each – who would aggressively pursue code enforcement ordinances that are “on the verge” of being re-written.

Riel added that the city is continuing to work on the problem, a majority of which rests with “slumlords.” He said, without mentioning the name, that one landlord who had more than 100 properties now has two or three.

“We’re dealing with it,” Riel said. “Quite frankly, we’ve put one of them, pretty much out of business. So, hopefully, we’ll continue (fixing the problem.)”

Riel noted that he has received comments on how much better the city looks these days.

One part of the city that’s looking better is Veterans Square, but more improvements are on the way.

Among the changes will be new benches and trash receptacles. Chamber of Commerce Director Ron Orris told city council that while the gazebo was being painted earlier this year he noticed that the benches and trash receptacles could use some work as well.

He explained to council that there will be no cost to the city for the project, and it will be paid for through donations in honor of or in memory of veterans or veterans groups.

Main Street Manager Anita Dolan says they’ve already sold two benches.

She says she and Orris had a meeting with the VFW and American Legion a couple of weeks ago, and that they are very happy with the way the square looks right now, and this will be the next step in the renovation. Each of the veterans groups, without any hesitation, said they would buy a bench.

The benches should be delivered in the spring, when Orris and Dolan are also hoping to implement other improvements in the square such as refurbishing of the flower beds.

The news leader of the Twin Tiers ... since 1947

5 comments:

Anonymous said...

Bradford is looking so much better in some areas and it is great to see new businesses opening and actually staying open. The mayor is doing good work!

But, without strict enforcement relative to "slumlords", and they ARE "slumlords"-overall their properties are not kept up to code, inside or outside. These houses and buildings are everywhere; entire streets and sections are comprised of these shoddy properties. They are also here and there downtown.

It is not right, at all, the one business takes the time and money to keep their property up to code/appealing, and then Joe or Jane slumlord is allowed to own and rent a run-down property next door.
(and also, relative to this, what ABOUT a UNIFORM CODE? That needs to happen now. A place that immediately comes to mind is an "orange-ish" (painted) bar near the Corner Bar (and the Corner Bar looks pretty good/appealing/clean/updated!). Why does the city of Bradford not have a uniform code, or why isn't it enforced if there is one?

There is plenty of research/data that informs us how slumlords negatively affect our "places".

Do we all believe that, for instance, every person renting an apartment or house in Bradford (and let's be honest, 90% of the apt/house rentals are owned by slumlords and are treated like slums!), DESIRES to live in shoddy, run-down dwellings? And overall, rentals in Bradford are not cheap! Sometimes we can model respect and dignity. Sometimes we need to open our eyes and minds and do things a new way.

What is Bradford's "sense of place?", or what does collective Bradford want it to be? I think Bradford is at a tipping point right now and I give the mayor a lot of credit for taking-on this grand task (and all of the other citizens who are and who have -most are volunteers!)...and because it is at a "tipping point"-use whatever laws are available to get it done now-don't stop. The "takings laws" are clearly at your disposal Bradford...

And, not to over-simplify but;

"If you build it they will come."

...to Bradford for Bradford's offerings and to Bradford as part of an entire region (Allegany region, upper Appalachian region)



Anne Holliday said...

Some of the things you mentioned are some of the things they will be working on with the Property Management Department and the re-writing of some ordinances. One thing I didn't put in the story that I should have is that Mayor Riel told Mrs. Girard to "Come back and see us in the spring. You'll be surprised." I take that to mean they are serious about getting things cleaned up ASAP.

Anonymous said...

Thank you for your response.

Things are clearly turning around-my point about "slumlords" and takings laws-some things can be done right now; there are obvious safety violations (fire code?) I can clearly see simply be driving around Bradford. Give the landlord the amount of time allowed by law to get the premises up to code and then, that's it. They have been given long enough (before Tom, this discussion went on and on. No one has ever had the "cojones" to stand up to or for anything.)

By "that's it" I mean take the building/remodel/sell/rent it as a city property or get can of gasoline and a book of matches (so many should be destroyed.)

*** also, correction, line 1, para 3 (likely important to me and me only!)
I intended to write "that one business", and wrote instead, "the one business." Thank you.

Anonymous said...

I hope Rookies also takes some time to train their staff in the art of hospitality.

Anonymous said...

Rookies training staff: that "topic" or "issue" would be another great topic to discuss (about Bradford)--is their any great customer service in Bradford? (anywhere) Any place where staff have great attitudes, go the distance to make people want to return to their establishments? I am not just talking about restaurants...let's rate every place by category. The topic of service and training isn't precisely part of Bradford PHYSICAL improvements but it is all part of a greater "theme" and "how" Bradford presents to the world: a run down dump with an I don't give a **** attitude. But what came first; the chicken or the egg? Goes right back to a sense of place and if you build it they will come, I think!