Tough love working to reduce blighted property in city

Call it tough love.

The city of Williamsport can fine a property owner as much as $1,000 per building code violation.

Those violations range from broken windows to holes in the roof, siding that is falling off, porch or structural deficiencies, electrical dangers and other safety hazards.

Occasionally, when it seems as though there is no chance a property is going to be rehabilitated, the city goes through a process to purchase the properties.

“Money making is not our goal,” Joseph Gerardi, city codes administrator, said. As most people are aware, the city is in no position to purchase properties for, say, $20,000 a pop. The properties often are sold at a sheriff’s sale and bought by developers or the city obtains the property by legal means.

While the fines and vigilance by codes personnel have gotten tougher, the goal is to work with property owners and get properties repaired without any strong action being taken by the city.

The tough love mixed with cooperative relations apparently is working.

The city had 188 blighted properties in 2008. As of early August, that number had been reduced to just 13.

That’s good work by some people who have largely thankless jobs – city codes personnel.

And good, common sense management of property by the city codes administrator and others connected with the process.