Blighted properties concern Johnstown town officials

Town of Johnstown Highway Superintendent TJ Bradt, right, discusses the problem of blighted properties in town during the town board's meeting Monday. On the left is the town clerk Nancy Hart. (The Leader-Herald/Briana O'Hara)

JOHNSTOWN — The Town Highway Superintendent TJ Bradt brought up the issue of run-down homes to the board’s attention Monday during the town’s board meeting.

Bradt said there are a lot of blighted homes in the area and that the number of properties that are run down is getting to be “ridiculous.”

Supervisor Jack Wilson agreed.

“There are quite a few run-down homes, and I do see some of them that are on tax foreclosures,” Bradt said. “How long do these people have to fix these places up or do something with after they purchase them?”

Wilson said it is up to the code enforcer. He said over the past month he has been doing a lot of work to find out why residents who are issued appearance tickets aren’t showing up to court. As many as 12 tickets have been issued and only one has shown up in front of the judge.

“I just hope Todd [Unislawki], when he does get on board, that he starts following up with these lawn mowing deals that we put in effect years ago,” Bradt said. “It’s getting ridiculous. I’m telling you, we’ve got places just in Meco that are really bad. They ought to be torn down.”

Wilson said there are places in every neighborhood in similar conditions.

“Nothing seems to get done, I could not agree more,” Wilson said.

Bradt said at some run-down homes there is garbage piled up on the front porch, with rats and cats roaming around the properties.

He said it wasn’t good for the town when someone new to the area passes the blighted properties.

“For people to drive down the road, to come in and see these places, you wonder why people want to leave here,” Bradt said.

Board member Walt Lane said the problem is the town board is unable to enforce compliance with town codes.

Board member Daryl Baldwin said that is because the town of Johnstown doesn’t have a charter, so officials are unable to add the cost of cleaning the blighted properties to the tax bill.

“All we can do as a board, is pass legislation, send our code enforcement officer out there to enforce that legislation and hope the courts work with us,” Board member Don VanDeusen said.