The LuLac Edition #1801, October 19th, 2011
Our "Write On Wednesday" logo.
County Council candidate Independent Rick Williams.
WRITE ON WEDNESDAY
WILLIAMS ON STERLING
The big hotel looms like a ghost overlooking the Wyoming Valley. Like an old relative with a disfigurement no one wants to look at but feels an obligation to, The Sterling reminds us of our own mortality personally as well as the community. The Sterling has become an entity no one wants to talk about. Independent candidate Rick Williams penned a letter to the newspapers regarding the future of the property and the ramifications it will have on Luzerne County taxpayers. It is a lucid and thoughtful letter that we are proud to feature on “Write On Wednesday”.
I hope you will join me in urging the Luzerne County Commissioners and the new County Council that will be elected on November 8th to take action that protects taxpayer interests in future decisions about the Hotel Sterling.
I am concerned that taxpayers locally and nationally will soon be forced to provide public dollars to demolish the Sterling Hotel, clearing what will eventually become prime real estate along the Susquehanna River Commons. Approximately $6 million of public funds has already been spent on the Sterling site, generating no return on investment of these federal, state and local dollars.
Luzerne County community development officials recently announced a proposed amendment to the county's Community Development Program for 2011-12 to “allow demolition and site clearance of property located at corner of N. River and W. Market Sts. (Sterling Hotel).” A public hearing will be held on Friday, Oct 21th at the Courthouse at 10 AM. Written comment may be submitted to the Office of Community Development until November 16th.
As an Independent candidate for Luzerne County Council on the November 8th ballot, I have heard many views about whether the Sterling can be preserved or whether demolition is the only feasible option. As an architect, I usually favor preservation of historic buildings, but I have not recently been inside the building nor have I seen the recent inspection and engineering reports.
My chief concern is not whether the Sterling Hotel should be preserved or demolished. It is that taxpayer funds should be protected, and that any future financial benefit gained through development of the site should be returned, at least in part, to public coffers.
I strongly believe that demolishing and clearing the Sterling Hotel site with taxpayer funds should not only benefit private individuals or corporations nonprofit or for-profit) that hold ownership and/or development rights to the site.
Instead, public dollars designated for the Sterling Hotel should be recouped by Luzerne County taxpayers through a legally-binding assignment of future revenue, ownership and/or development rights at the site. Sale or development of the cleared property could eventually aid in resolving Luzerne County's enormous debt burden.
Independent Candidate for Luzerne County Council 2011