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Wilkes-Barre Volunteers Battle Blight

WILKES-BARRE, Pa. — A volunteer group in Luzerne County is taking steps to clean up and eliminate illegal dumping. Gregory Griffin and a group of voluntee...

WILKES-BARRE, Pa. -- A volunteer group in Luzerne County is taking steps to clean up and eliminate illegal dumping.

Gregory Griffin and a group of volunteers have received a lot of calls about problem areas in the city where there is a lot of trash and dumping. That has led them to tackle what he says is the bigger problem: blighted properties.

Old appliances, busted mattresses, and garbage fills garage bays at the end of Warren Street in Wilkes-Barre.

“The garage that is contaminated has coolants, paint, car oil that looks as if it's leaching into the soil and right behind this building is the Solomon Creek," said Jason Carr, a property owner in Wilkes-Barre.

Griffin organizes volunteer cleanups in Luzerne County, and this site was brought to his attention. But Griffin sees a bigger problem here than just trash.

“We started with the litter pickup, and it's morphed into much more litter, and we are seeing these blighted properties that are a magnet for additional dumpings," said Gregory Griffin, Wilkes-Barre Citizens Blight Committee.

Griffin is hoping to work with the city to get federal and state funding to tear down blighted buildings, so the problem stops.

“It's a return dumping issue, and there's rodents, and we have to address a lot of the issues. If we do not remove these buildings, it is going to be a continued cycle," Griffin said.

Griffin has started the Wilkes-Barre Citizens Blight Committee. Through that committee, he hopes to organize volunteers to clean up problem sites, work with the city to keep them clean, and then take action by helping the city apply for grants to bring structures down.

“There's better days ahead for Wilkes-Barre because the citizens are great people, and they just need an avenue, and I think our committee is an avenue for that.”

If you would like to join the Wilkes-Barre Citizens Blight Committee or have a problem you think it could address, you can contact griffin at 570-239-6244 or co1griff@comcast.net.