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Tearing down falling Harrisburg church will nearly deplete city's budget to fight blight

Updated: Tuesday, March 11 2014, 06:07 PM CDT
Reported by Chris Papst:

HARRISBURG -- Harrisburg is running into more financial trouble, but this time it is due to the cost of demolishing an old church, which partially collapsed a few weeks ago.

Now, the city has to demolish the building and it will be so expensive, little money may be left to demolish more blighted property in the city.

For Migdalia Valez, the last few weeks have been a nightmare.

“I got depression.  You can’t understand my depression.  I cry everyday,” said Valez.

About a year ago, she moved to Harrisburg from Puerto Rico and bought her dream home near the intersection of 12th and Magnolia Streets.  But on February 21st, the large old church partially collapsed, forcing her family and two others out.

“We need my house,” pleaded Valez.  “We need to move into my house as soon as possible.”

Valez’s family is staying at a city-owned home on Oxford Street while they wait for the demolition.”

“It’s not easy for me and my kids and my husband,” Valez stated.

It’s not safe to be at there home since bricks continue to fall in her yard.  CBS 21 learned Tuesday that demolition will begin Thursday.  Dave Patton, with Codes Enforcement, says demolition will cost $132,000, which is nearly the entire $172,000 budget the city has this has this year to demolish blighted buildings.

“Just for the mere height and magnitude of it, it’s just one of the most complex demolitions we’ve seen in a long time,” said Patton.
Police did arrest the owner of the property, local minister Augustus Sullivan, for recklessly endangering another person, and failing to prevent a catastrophe. 

Patton hopes to receive some restitution from Sullivan so the city has money to tear down more blighted properties this year.
Tearing down falling Harrisburg church will nearly deplete city's budget to fight blight

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