A Bustleton property that’s often been in the news recently got a cut and a trim from the city.
Community Life Improvement Program workers late last month whacked the weeds and tall grass at 9432 Roosevelt Blvd. and hauled away trash. The property is at the southwest corner of Grant Avenue and the Boulevard. The grass and weeds were so thick and high on the Grant Avenue side that they almost obscured the sidewalk.
The address has some history. The building was the focus of considerable community ire in early 2011 because of plans to use it for a methadone clinic. The city abandoned those plans when it was denounced by hundreds of residents during a February 2009 community meeting.
According to online city records, Merck Real Estate LLC, a Bloomsburg, Pa., company, bought the property in 2011 for $1.8 million. Neighbors almost immediately complained about what they said was unpermitted work going on as the building was being refitted as an “Urgent Care” center and offices. The Department of Licenses & Inspections ordered work stopped until the owner complied.
Recently, the city had to remove five trees from the curbside in front of the property because they had been damaged so severely they were in danger of falling either into the building or into the Boulevard’s southbound lanes. A city tree inspector noted that someone had killed the trees by deeply cutting into their trunks.
CLIP workers were on the property for a total of seven hours on July 30 and 31, said city Deputy Managing Director Thomas Conway. The property currently looks well-manicured. The city billed the owner more than $2,100 for the work and administrative fees.
According to the city’s online records, there already is a tax lien on the property, and almost $88,000 in taxes, interest and penalties are outstanding.
There is no phone listing for Merck Real Estate in Bloomsburg, and the only listing for the company’s address on Treeline Drive is a fax number. An inquiry was sent to that fax number on Aug. 9, but no response was received.
Jack O’Hara, president of the Greater Bustleton Civic League, said a neighbor had brought the property’s seedy state to his attention earlier in June. He said he notified Councilman Brian O’Neill’s office, and CLIP was asked to clean up the property.
O’Hara said he checked on the cleanup’s status several times.
“I was told they were backed up because of the rain,” he said, “but we knew we were on the list.”
Conway said CLIP visited the property in May 2012, but the owner trimmed the vegetation.
The property is the gateway to Grant Avenue in Bustleton, O’Hara said.
Before the recent CLIP cleanup, “It was just a terrible-looking entrance,” he said.
Besides the high grass and weeds, O’Hara said, “There was a pile of trash behind the building.” That pile included a sofa and rocks, all of which CLIP workers hauled away.
The league has been working on cleaning up Grant Avenue’s traffic islands, O’Hara said. Grant and Evans was a big mess, and it’s now tidied up.
Grant Avenue traffic islands — one at the Boulevard and another at Krewstown Road — were edged with the help of GBCL members, neighbors and Posel Management, O’Hara said.
A contractor was hired, and Posel Management, which owns the Krewstown Shopping Center, helped pay for the work, O’Hara said. That Grant Avenue work is ongoing.
“We’re chipping away at it,” O’Hara said.
“The traffic islands on Grant are in need of a mowing, so they don’t look as good as they will later, and even better with the trees mulched,” O’Hara stated in an Aug. 9 email to the Northeast Times.
Work at 9432 Roosevelt Blvd. began soon after the property was purchased in July 2011, but, now two years later, no Urgent Care center has opened.
Conway said a city inspector who was on the property noted that it looked vacant.
O’Hara said he’s made inquiries with the city about possible replacement of the trees that had to be removed from the property’s curb.
O’Hara said he didn’t know what was happening at the property or if the care center was scheduled to open.
“I wish I knew the story,” he said. ••