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NEW CASTLE, PA. Board wants to raze homes



Published: Tue, July 31, 2001 @ 12:00 a.m.



Board members accepted a $56,518 insurance settlement for the band shelter, which burned in April.

By LAURE CIOFFI

VINDICATOR NEW CASTLE BUREAU

NEW CASTLE, Pa. -- New Castle school board members say they want to raze the vacant, district-owned homes near the city high school as soon as possible.

"The sooner we knock those things down the better off we will be," said Thomas DiMuccio, board member.

DiMuccio said he's worried about the liability of the district and board for the 15 vacant, district-owned homes after fire partly destroyed two of them recently. Arson is suspected in both blazes.

School board members are asking the state department of education for special permission to tear down the fire damaged homes immediately.

But some school board members say that's not enough.

Board President Lynn Padice says she wants all the vacant homes gone to avoid any further vandalism and prevent anyone from being hurt.

Most of the homes have been vacant since last year when they district bought them to make room for a new city high school.

Building alternatives: Plans called for all of the homes to be razed, but demolition stalled when building alternatives and offers to move the homes to new locations were brought to the board.

Board members have agreed to sell the homes to anyone able to move them to new locations by November. Bids are being opened Aug. 13.

Padice said she wants to then raze any homes that are not bid on.

School officials say they have stepped up security near the homes by having a school security guard visit the area several times during the night.

Superintendent Joseph Martin said it's not clear how long it will take the state to decide if the district can immediately demolish the two burned buildings.

Settlement: Board members also agreed to ask the state permission to demolish and rebuild the Taggart Stadium band shelter destroyed by fire in April.

The board accepted a $56,518 settlement from its insurance company for the two-story building that was set on fire by four juveniles.

Martin said the insurance settlement probably won't cover the rebuilding costs, estimated at $80,000.

They are now checking to see if the building foundation can be salvaged for a new structure, which would lessen the rebuilding cost, Martin said.

cioffi@vindy.com




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