West York taking steps to fight blight

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WEST YORK, Pa. - Officials in West York want a cleaner borough. The police chief took his frustrations to Facebook, declaring a "war on blight."

Effective immediately, police will begin aggressively pursuing complaints regarding blight and violations. The mayor said they're going to tackle these problems neighborhood by neighborhood, and house by house.

Richard Wagner won't just tell you, he'll show you how bad the blight is.

"You can't even walk in that yard now. and people see that, they see it run down so the back garage is already open so they throw their garbage in there now," Wagner said.

Wagner has lived in West York for more than 50 years, so he's seen a thing or two.

"To see the way it's going and the way it use to be. People don't care," Wagner said. "It's been like this probably about, I'd say, the past ten years."

Members of West York Council and the police department have had enough too.

"The old West York was really the suburb before what we now know as the suburbs," West York Police Chief, Matt Millsaps, said.  "West York was the place everyone wanted to come to. The nice shops were here. It was white picket fence community, if you would

"There is not a solitary block in this borough that doesn't have a problem," West York Mayor, Shawn Mauck, said.

The Borough is redesigning the property maintenance and codes inspection department. Effective immediately, they will beginning  giving out warnings, notice of violations, or citations if they don't fix their problem.

"Some of the cement work out front is all cracked up and busted up. Properties are in shambles. People aren't painting stuff, there are shingles falling down off of people's houses and stuff like that," Wagner said.

Things that landlords generally take care of. Which, they mayor said, is another problem.

"Particularly owners that live out of state," Mauck said. "They believe they can buy properties, throw very little money into them, charge the renters a high dollar, and basically leave the property to squalor. That's not okay, and our message to those owners are, 'we know where to find you, the citations are easily delivered to you, and we're going to hold you accountable'."

"It's not like we could just wave a magic wand and all of a sudden the Borough is cleaned up. This is going to take time. It took years for it to get into this state. I would like to believe it's not going to take years for it to change," Millsaps said.

Mauck and Millsaps would like neighbors to lend a helping hand where they can, and will work with those who need a little more help. If landlords and residents don't comply they could receive a fine anywhere from a small amount up to thousands of dollars.

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