How quickly recent events fade into forgotten history. And how sadly ironic it is that Bishop Dr. Wertz is revered by Lycoming College as the great builder, when havoc and destruction were so commonplace in the East End.
While the first college buildings were erected on vacant college property, their voracious appetite for land quickly exhausted their supply, and they were soon knocking on the doors of their neighboring homes and businesses telling them they needed their land.
While some complacent owners begrudgingly accepted the low ball offers made by the college for their properties, many chose to hold out for a fair price, based on their actual assessed property values, so they could afford to replace their homes. Faced with this opposition, Dr. Wertz and his administration chose to enlist their political allies at City Hall to unleash the Williamsport Redevelopment Authority against these rebel holdouts.
The tactics used by the authority inflicted much emotional and financial suffering and distress on those people, as they knocked on their doors with eviction notices, telling them their home had just been condemned under eminent domain, and they needed to get out ASAP.
They told the owners what they would be paid, which was usually well below fair market value for the properties, and there was no bargaining or appeals process for the dislocated.
Dr. Wertz and his administration were mistrusted by a great number of residents, and deep seated feelings of ill will toward the college persist to this day. So as Academia remembers the Bishop as a gifted educator, and a visionary leader, that feeling was not, and is still not shared by many members of the community who incurred his wrath.
Ralph J. Keller
Submitted by Virtual Newsroom