EBENSBURG – Surveys of four blighted commercial properties proposed for demolition in Cambria County found that abatement work for asbestos or other hazardous materials is not necessary.

The Cambria County Redevelopment Authority has approximately $115,000 to put toward the demolition of those four commercial properties, along with four residential homes, in its Act 152 fund, which is generated from a $15 fee on deeds and mortgages.

Renee Daly, executive director of the authority, said during a regular meeting Thursday that demolition permits can proceed for all eight properties and estimates that demolition for all of them will be completed by spring 2020.

"We're very excited about that," she said.

At its June meeting, the authority received and opened five bids for a contract including demolition of the eight blighted structures in seven municipalities.

At its July meeting, the authority awarded the contract to Earthmovers Unlimited Inc., of Kylertown, which submitted the lowest bid of $137,419.

The authority had decided that demolition of the residential properties would begin first, and, if extensive abatement work was required at any of the commercial properties, it would postpone some of them until more funding was received.

The Cambria County Recorder of Deeds Office collects the $15 fee on deeds and mortgages and distributes those funds into a demolition fund overseen by the authority.

Properties must be owned by a municipality, redevelopment authority, community development corporation or public nonprofit organization to be eligible for demolition funds.

The eight properties slated for the next round of demolition through Act 152 funds include the following:

• 209 E. Ogle St., Ebensburg (residential)

• 1007 Conemaugh Ave., Portage (residential)

• 317 Bond St., Johnstown (residential)

• 752 Central Ave., Johnstown (residential)

• 206 Main St., Gallitzin (commercial)

• 415 Cleveland St., Lilly (commercial)

• 995 and 999 Roberts St., Nanty Glo (commercial duplex)

• 440 Jefferson Ave., Summerhill (commercial)

Daly said both properties in the city of Johnstown are owned by the county redevelopment authority.

The redevelopment authority board also voted for the authority to act as the applicant for a $160,000 grant that would assist in the costs for lighting along the Iron to Arts Corridor in the city of Johnstown.

"Having one entity be the applicant is a better way to get the funding," Daly said.

Plans are ongoing to replace a two-mile corridor of Washington Street with a pathway through downtown Johnstown, past the Johnstown Flood Museum and underneath the historic Stone Bridge on Iron Street that's more friendly to walkers and bikers.

Gautier Specialty Metals, the Johnstown Redevelopment Authority, Discover Downtown Johnstown Partnership and Bottle Works have been spearheading the project, which was supported through the Commonwealth Financing Authority during a 2016 announcement.

"The state has really bought into the project," said Melissa Komar, executive director of the Johnstown Redevelopment Authority, who also attended the county redevelopment authority's Thursday meeting.

Because the property is currently home to rail lines, industrial water pipes and other utilities, Gautier is working with the Cambria Somerset Authority, Greater Johnstown Water Authority, CSX Railroad and Penelec, among others, to get the necessary clearances to potentially launch the beautification and recreation project later this year.

The project is also awaiting PennDOT’s approval for the designated bike lanes.

Komar said the partnerships between Cambria County departments and agencies and those within the city of Johnstown have made this type of project possible.

"We now all see bigger picture," she said. "It's helped immensely on our projects."

Mark Pesto is a reporter for The Tribune-Democrat. Follow him on Twitter at @MarkPesto.

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