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Lackawanna's new development director is busy addressing concerns at first meeting

Drew Shapiro, Lackawanna's new director of development, attended his first City Council meeting Monday and was peppered with questions on the progress of several projects.

The long-awaited Family Dollar on lower Ridge Road had been delayed, First Ward Councilman Abdulsalam K. Noman noted, and he wanted to know why.

"Paperwork regarding an easement that was required by the state Department of Environmental Conservation," answered Shapiro, who added that the site plan submitted by the thrift store was delivered to his office Monday.

"The project will go before the Planning Board," Shapiro said. "I don't want to be an obstructionist but I want it to go through the proper process."

Next on Noman's list was demolition of the former New Lincoln Elementary School at 90 Dona St. Noman noted the city had already received an $800,000 grant to be used to tear down the ramshackle building.

"I think we have two years to spend that money," Shapiro responded. "We want to reassess the building and the asbestos it contains. Of the $800,000, $150,000 is for asbestos removal. I want to make sure that money covers all of the asbestos removal. The building may have gotten worse. We're doing due diligence, and then we'll put it out to bid. The roof caved in, and that is a challenge to demolition. My goal is to get that building down."

Shapiro was also questioned about the Code Enforcement Inspectors under his supervision. Several Council members vocalized their concerns about the blight displayed by too many residences.

"We've been doing some provisional fines," answered Shapiro. "If they don't act, we give them another fine that gets their attention. I would rather everyone invest in their properties, but some of the issues are that these buildings should be demolished."

Third Ward Councilman Joseph Jerge questioned the length of time homeowners have to pay the fines.

"Isn't 30 days too long for some people?" Jerge said. "Sometimes they don't pay. "We have to come up with something that causes them to face consequences for their inaction. I've been asking about these same addresses for three years. It's not fair to the people who pay their taxes."

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