WATSONTOWN — The Borough of Watsontown has been granted a conservatorship by the courts over an Ash Street property which was condemned in 2019 after police reported finding more than a dozen cats in “unlivable conditions” inside of the home.

Borough Manager Jay Jarrett said he explained to council during a Monday work session that in a conservatorship the borough to becomes the custodian of the property at 720 Ash St., owned by Suzette Young.

Next, Jarrett said the borough must submit a plan to the courts on how it intends to take care of the property.

“It could be demolition, it could be rehab,” Jarrett said, adding that council will be discussing how it wishes to progress with the property.

To his knowledge, Jarrett said no one has been inside of the home since the cats were removed, and sent to the care of the Pennsylvania SPCA, in May 2019.

Most immediately, he said the borough will be making sure the home is secured.

Council continues to discuss the future of the former Santander Bank building, which the borough purchased in 2019 for $125,000.

“We bought the building because we want site control,” Jarrett said. “We don’t want it deteriorating... Number two is, how do you use it to benefit Watsontown in the best way? That’s a discussion that will be ongoing.”

He said the COVID-19 pandemic has impacted the borough’s ability to plan potential uses of the property.

“With the whole COVID thing, it’s really changed the way businesses do business,” Jarrett said. “We’ve had four or five different organizations tour it... At this point, we are willing to listen to anything.”

Jarrett said it’s not costing the borough any money to own the property. It receives a $400 monthly stipend for the automatic teller machine, which remains on the property.

“It’s not any more work for our (Department of Public Works) guys,” Jarrett said. “They do clean the sidewalks in the winter.”

Council is expected to award a contract at its May 10 meeting to repair an area along East Brimmer Avenue where a portion of a wall around the cemetery collapsed.

Rather than replace the wall, Jarrett said the ground which the wall was placed in front of will be tiered.

“This will work,” he said. “The quotes for repairing or replacing a wall were $40,000 to $90,000.”

Jarrett announced the second year of the borough’s farmer’s market will resume operations Saturday, May 29.

The market will be held from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. each Saturday, into the fall, in the Watsontown Memorial Park. The market will not be open Saturday, July 3, as the community’s Independence Day festivities will be taking place at that time.

Beginning May 10, Jarrett said council meetings will switch from being held via conference call to being held in person. The meetings will take place in a pavilion at the Watsontown Memorial Park.

No meeting will be held Monday, June 14, due to the Warrior Run Area Fire Department carnival taking place in the park. The June council meeting will be combined with monthly work session, to be held at 7 p.m. June 28, in the park.

Staff writer Kevin Mertz can be reached at 570-742-9671 or email kevin@standard-journal.com.

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