By Ross Guidotti

LATROBE, Pa. (KDKA) – Leaders in Latrobe are taking steps to fight blight.

When it comes to quality of life, fewer things can torpedo a neighborhood, town or city’s appeal more than blight.

Latrobe says it has a plan that includes finding where problem structures are, then finding the money to make them disappear.

Ask most folks and they’ll tell you Latrobe is ok.

“Latrobe is such a nice town and they’ve done so much to refurbish and take care of things,” says homeowner Nancy Auman.

(Photo Credit: KDKA)

However, it’s not immune to the problems that plague other places in western Pa. One of those concerns being the issue of blight.

“The first step is identifying the properties,” says Latrobe City Manager Mike Gray.

This week, Latrobe announced its long-term plans to combat blight by first compiling a list of derelict structures, finding funding, followed by demolition. And they have more than just a few candidates for the list.

Nancy Auman lives behind a deteriorating house on Weldon Street. It’s a home to critters, and squatters occasionally take up residence. But more than anything, it’s an arson waiting to happen.

“A fire, because it’s so big, could hit these trees and it will leap on to the house or our neighbor’s house,” says Auman.

The problem is, tearing down old buildings and bulldozing them requires cash. You have to pay back taxes and necessary court fees and other costs to acquire the property.

“We recently this year looked into something called community development block grants,” says Gray.

The city is hoping to get some $55,000 in such grants to start demolishing. Auman says she hopes the eye sore behind her home is at the top of the list.

“I’d like to see them tear it down and plant grass there,” she says.