Our Town donates $10,000

Money given to land bank following Pacifico’s request

Operation Our Town is donating $10,000 to the new Altoona land bank.

The money could pay for acquisition of a “demonstration property” that would show how the land bank can put distressed real estate “back in the hands of people who will fix (it) up and re-use (it),” said Lee Slusser, the city’s community development director.

Our Town donated the money at the request of land bank member and city Mayor Matt Pacifico in hopes of fighting blight, which contributes to crime and drug use, which are the main targets of Our Town’s efforts, said Shawna Hoover, Our Town’s executive coordinator.

“The less we have of that, the healthier the community will be,” Hoover said.

“The money will definitely give us options,” Pacifico said.

The land bank board — which consists of the members of the city’s Redevelopment Authority — will decide what to do with the Our Town money, but a demonstration of the agency’s capabilities would constitute “a good first project,” Pacifico said.

Pacifico and land bank consultant Winnie Branton have been negotiating with Blair County and will soon begin negotiating with the Altoona Area School District on intergovernmental agreements that will enable the land bank to function.

Land banks are empowered to intercept promising tax delinquent properties before they go to tax sale, directing them to parties with the wherewithal to develop them property, while keeping them from tax sale buyers who would likely be unable or unwilling to improve them.

Mirror Staff Writer William Kibler is at 949-7038.

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