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Action group may re-start

JOHNSTOWN — COVID-19 and its accompanying lockdowns has impacted many facets of life, including a local committee of citizens concerned about issues like blight.

But the efforts of newly-formed group Johnstown Citizens in Action — derailed in March because of the pandemic — may start up again to some degree.

Group spokesperson Roberta Thomas of Johnstown said Friday that the group may be ramping up again. Johnstown Citizens in Action spoke at a Feb. 18 Common Council meeting, but council meetings have since been largely closed since to the public due to the pandemic.

“There is still an interest in working with the city by many of the members of the committee,” Thomas said.

Fourth Ward Councilman Max Spritzer said at the council’s June 15 meeting he would like the city to work again with the group in the future.

Thomas said her group was “really connected” during the late winter, but like much of society derailed by the pandemic. The group met Feb. 27 at the Johnstown Senior Citizens Center, but even that facility has been closed for months.

At that session, Spritzer and fellow council newcomer 3rd Ward Councilwoman Amy Praught addressed Johnstown Citizens in Action about issues the committee brought up previously. The group vowed to meet again with the city, but never got an immediate chance to.

At the Feb. 18 council meeting, the citizens group cited three city-owned buildings that appear to be idle, including roofless 124 W. Fulton St. City officials said the building was due to be razed by the city’s demolition team this year. The group had also referenced a partially demolished building at 159 E. State St. – another structure officials said was eventually due to be demolished. Also mentioned were out-of-town landlords who let their properties go and are delinquent in paying their taxes. Also mentioned at the Feb. 18 meeting was 6 Spring St., the former Halo Optical Products, which last used the building in 1984 and was due to be resold.

The citizens group has expressed a desire to seek grants for the city, and sit down with the state Department of Environmental Conservation on some of the property and blight concerns raised.

Thomas said she recently conferred with fellow member Bob Gould, who discussed again bringing up the group’s ongoing work. She said the pair discussed a “plan of approach” for the future, although “there is time to talk things over.”

Michael Anich covers Johnstown and Fulton County news. He can be reached at manich@leaderherald.com.

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