Franklin looks to tackle problem property

A multi-agency coordination effort was established Tuesday in Franklin after residents in a neighborhood pleading for help brought their concerns to Monday’s city council meeting.

Anger over a 10th Street property reached a breaking point after the residents stood and described the property as being insect- and animal-infested to council members.

Council was also shown pictures of the outside of the property that show a mounting pile of trash consisting of mattresses, children’s toys and various building materials.

“We thought we had the problem addressed,” City Manager Tracy Jamieson said Tuesday.

The coordination effort, described by Jamieson as a multi-pronged plan, includes the city’s zoning office and fire and police departments.

Jamieson said the plan hinges on manpower and the help of several county agencies such as the Venango County Agency on Aging.

Code enforcer Chuck Gibbons said the coordination will not only focus on the 10th Street property but others like it that exist within Franklin as well.

“Certainly we don’t want these things to occur and happen, but they do,” he said.

Both Gibbons and Jamieson said the city has been aware of the condition of the property for at least two years, but they had been hoping other avenues would provide a solution for the property and its owner.

“County agencies had been working with (the owner) in the hopes that we would remedy the problem and that doesn’t seem to have helped,” Gibbons said.

The property had been condemned in 2017. Later that year, the property was reopened to the owner after it had been cleaned, Gibbons said.

Franklin Mayor Doug Baker admitted Tuesday he was “rather surprised” after hearing of the property’s condition.

“It’s not an easy issue to deal with,” Baker said.

Gibbons and Jamieson both said things will be taking place behind the scenes due to the many issues at work with the property and its owner that must be dealt with before any cleaning can be done.

“We’re doing what we can and hoping that we can get this problem solved,” said Jamieson.

Jamieson said the city has a timeline for action regarding the property, but she wouldn’t disclose details.

The signs that the property has once again been hoarded left Gibbons with a sense of foreboding.

“Two years ago we had the same problem. I’m afraid that we’ll just be dealing with this again in another two years. It’s not going to be a long-term solution,” Gibbons said.

Despite his pessimism, Gibbons did say the neighbors’ accusations of inaction leveled at city departments were “untrue.”

“Maybe they feel like nothing’s been done, but we’ve been trying,” he said.

Baker echoed this but added that the city sometimes doesn’t communicate the status of projects and issues the right way.

“I think that sometimes we aren’t as good at letting people know as we should be. I think the people last night (Monday) just wanted to be heard,” Baker said.