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Borough officials tired of S&A Homes’ lack of action with former Lincoln School building

A new senior high school was constructed on Lincoln Avenue in 1911. In 1929, the Waring property adjacent to the school was bought and then razed to build the junior high school addition. The present-day Tyrone Area High School was built in 1962, and the former high school became Lincoln Elementary School.
When the newly constructed elementary school on Clay Avenue was finished in 1999, all the elementary schools in Tyrone combined; leaving Lincoln School vacant. The building was soon sold to S&A Homes Inc.
It’s now 2008, and there has been no progress or plans made for the quickly deteriorating Lincoln School building.
Tyrone Mayor James Kilmartin stated last evening after borough council’s work session that something needs to be done as soon as possible.
“The consensus has been that they (S&A Homes) need to do something, and I think council-wise, we’re getting really tired of just sitting and waiting – and nothing being done,” stated Kilmartin.
The borough received a letter dated January 8, 2008 from Andy Haines of S&A Homes, addressing a correspondence letter sent by the borough on December 12, outlining numerous violations of the borough’s Property Maintenance Code that still exist at the building.
The borough has stated that it’s been very willing to work with S&A Homes, and very patient with the requests made. But at this time, without code issues being addressed, the borough is concerned about the dangerous conditions that exist at the property.
Borough Code Enforcement Officer Jim Metzgar said the building presents a danger to the public in terms of the public’s safety and welfare. He said the building has been deteriorating for the last five to seven years.
“When you have an open roof and water coming into the building, and with all the deterioration structurally, it is unhealthy for a building,” added Metzgar.
“Unfortunately, S&A hasn’t made small repairs on the building, let alone give us any plan of action on what they want to do with the building.”
Back in September of 2006, the borough’s engineering service, CET Engineering, Senior Structural Engineer Kenneth Grubb wrote a report for the borough on the condition of the Lincoln Avenue building. In the report Grubb stated that “left in its current condition, with the significance and number of roof failures, the deterioration will accelerate to the point where this building will become a hazard with eventual isolated failures and collapses unavoidable.”
Grubb added, “While we do believe that this building is salvageable, the cost for stabilization alone will be significant. Stabilization as a minimum will require a new roofing system, sealing all exterior coping, cornice and masonry joints, and closing up all window openings to restrict human entry as well as to exclude wildlife, birds and wet weather. In addition, we recommend that a survey be conducted of the building exterior and any loose or deteriorating elements be removed and or stabilized.”
S&A’s lack of attention to this matter left the borough with no choice but to issue a Condemnation and Demolition Order under the date of December 12, 2007. This project has continued for 18 months, and during those 18 months, the building has continued to deteriorate.
The borough stated it has continued to wait for repairs to be made, and S&A has not demonstrated cooperation or timeliness in making even basic repairs. S&A Homes had requested an appeal, however, this request was not made within the allotted 20-day time frame, making an appeal not an option.
Kilmartin added, “It’s a significant thing. Tearing down the building will be very costly, and fixing it up will be extremely costly. On their (S&A’s) part, they’re looking for funds, but they’ve been looking for funds for years; sometimes you just need to cut your costs and deal with it.”
The borough is requesting S&A Homes’ structural engineer to conduct an on-site inspection within 20 days from January 15, 2008, and provide the borough with a written report. This report must be received by the borough within 15 days from the date of inspection.
Therefore, the borough anticipates receiving a written report from S&A Homes on or before Monday, February 18, 2008. After the report is received, a meeting will be scheduled with borough representatives, including the borough solicitor and engineer, and representatives from S&A Homes, to review the report and S&A’s options at that time.
“We hope we can work something out and go over a plan, but if we don’t get any response we will commence with legal proceedings and continue to push the issue of demolition,” added Metzgar.
Kilmartin and Metzgar said that there have been ideas thrown out there for what could be done with the building, such as something recreational, but that plan was over a year and half ago and nothing was accomplished – that is unacceptable from the borough’s standpoint.
“They’re a reputable outfit and we always want to see someone come in and do something for the community, but we need a plan of action, stick to it in a timely manner, and open up that plan of action,” stated Metzgar.
Mr. Haines of S&A Homes did not return a phone message by press time.