Wow, The Luzerne County Redevelopment Authority must feel like it died and went to heaven.
Five years ago, the county gave the authority $6.1 million to purchase the dilapidated Market Street Square from one lucky seller, Thom Greco. For five years, the complex just sat there rusting away and attracting vandals and the homeless.
Is that any way to treat taxpayers’ $6 million investment? Why, yes it is. The county commissioners are now poised to give the authority another $2 million “loan” to fix up the place.
And the best news of all? The “loan” doesn’t have to be paid back, The Times Leader reported Tuesday. The county commissioners plan to allocate the money from the community development’s revolving business loan fund. Another misnomer. There’s no revolving going on here. The $2 million is waltzing out the door never to return.
That’s a better deal than the $6 million, interest-free loan the county gave to CityVest to restore the Hotel Sterling. At least that county agreement required CityVest to pay back the $6 million. But sometimes things don’t turn out as we might hope. CityVest has no money left, so bye bye $6 million.
There’s been no word on whether the county commissioners will pursue legal channels to remedy this loan default. Maybe our new county manager will consider it worthwhile to pursue the loss of $6 million of taxpayers’ money.
County Commissioner Chairwoman Maryanne Petrilla said she’s willing to provide the additional $2 million in funding for the train wreck as long if she receives assurances it will be put back in operation. Apparently five years of inactivity hasn’t convinced her that the redevelopment authority is a joke.
Commmissioner Steve Urban, who hopes to land a seat on the new county council, said visitors often express an interest in the train station building but are unable to go inside. That’s probably best as they could run the risk of being bitten by a rat.
The county commissioners were obviously feeling very benevolent at their work session on Monday because they also announced, according to the TL, their plan to give the redevelopment authority another 10 years to repay $3.4 million it borrowed in 2001 to purchase 56 miles of railroad. I bet you didn’t know that the redevelopment authority members were railroad experts.
With such a stellar credit rating, why wouldn’t the county commissioners want to give the authority another $2 million? And since it likely would never be paying it back anyway, why not just give it to them with no strings attached?
- Betty Roccograndi