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Lackawanna City Hall building called ‘money pit’

Lackawanna lawmakers make no secret of their distaste for the “pumpkin on stilts,” the name given by many locals to the burnt-orange-colored City Hall located on Ridge Road at Victory Avenue and built in the late ’60s.

On Monday night, it was called a “money pit” at the City Council’s regular meeting where Anthony DeSantis, the city commissioner of public works, cautioned that the deteriorating structure was a hazard and that it required at least $200,000 in repairs.

“We have to make a decision on whether to move operations or start repairing it,” DeSantis said. “But it’s a money pit as far as I’m concerned. City government is small these days. We don’t need a whole building. If we get the right building, we could probably put everyone on one floor. Obviously the courts and police would have to stay here.”

At issue was the front steps of City Hall, which were described as “out of code,” and a “liability.”

“There have been legal proceedings because of the stairs during past years. They really need to be torn down and replaced,” said DeSantis, who estimated the cost at $90,000.

The project would include the installation of a wheelchair lift to allow accessibility for disabled people.

Assistant City Attorney James Balcarczyk II said there had been no repairs to the front steps in a decade, judging from the lawsuits he has handled.

“Nothing has really been done by past administrators but patch the building up,” DeSantis said.

“The parking lot is so high you can’t patch it up anymore, because you don’t know which way the water will go and you don’t want to flood out residents in back.”

DeSantis also pointed to the steel pillars supporting the orange structure that was designed by Donald W. Love Architect and Associates.

“They’ve never been tested, so we don’t know what the condition of the metal is underground,” said DeSantis. “There’s only so much testing you can do without digging them up, and there’s only a few companies that do that testing.”

“My suggestion is we look for another building for City Hall.”

Council President Henry Pirowski said preliminary talks had already taken place with Lackawanna school administrators over the leasing of space in McKinley School Administrative Building, 245 South Shore Blvd.

Pirowski suggested a study be initiated to estimate the cost of demolition. He also planned to meet again with Lackawanna school administrators.

email: jkwiatkowski@buffnews.com