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Our opinion: Right way to tackle blight in city

A recent proposal from City Manager Nancy Freenock could have substantial benefit long after her pending retirement.

Freenock is asking the City Council to apply for a few grant opportunities through the state Department of Community and Economic Development’s Keystone Communities Program. Her thought is to secure a planning grant to develop a remediation plan for blight in Warren.

The grant comes with a required match of $25,000, which Freenock proposes is paid through the Warren Redevelopment Authority.

This is a no-brainer, in our opinion.

Warren’s issues aren’t going to miraculously come to an end. Warren — and many other cities in similar situations throughout Pennsylvania and the rest of the Rust Belt — handle blighted properties after the damage is already done. There are many possible ways to prevent blight. Small investments in neighborhoods like block challenges or grant programs where homeowners’ investments are matched with outside money can make big differences in the type of home maintenance a property owner can do. Targeting those programs can stave off a block’s decline and keep home values in the entire neighborhood healthy.

Freenock is proposing a proactive approach to Warren’s neighborhoods. In our opinion, it’s the right approach.

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