There may soon be a “For Sale” sign on Williamsport City Hall; proposals from real estate agents sought

WILLIAMSPORT – There may soon be a “For Sale” sign at Williamsport City Hall. The city has begun advertising offers from realtors for brokerage services for the sale of the 130-year-old, currently condemned building.

A real estate agent will help determine if there is interest in buying the building, City Engineer Jon Sander said. He heard there were interested buyers, he said.

Sander, whom the mayor called the City Hall Administration Contact, advertised for real estate agents on PennBid, a regional online deal management program that connects buyers and sellers.

Mayor Derek Slaughter’s decision to solicit proposals for a real estate agent upsets two city council members who are expected to approve the sale.

Council Speaker Adam Yoder and Vice-Chair Bonnie Katz slammed the mayor on Friday for not consulting with the council first. “I’m really upset about this,” Katz said.

Last year, the council, based on the recommendation of an ad hoc committee, decided to stay at City Hall and bring it into compliance with codes and the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) , Yoder pointed out.

He accused Slaughter of dragging his feet to get estimates of the cost of compliance from City Hall.

Katz is upset because the administration has come up with no plan. “What does he (Slaughter) think he’s going to get for mayor,” she asked.

Two weeks ago, Slaughter told the public works committee that Katz chairs that he would present to council a proposal to hire an engineering firm to assess City Hall.

That didn’t happen, but Sander said there were companies interested in doing the work.

City Hall is vacant and boarded up due to extensive water damage from a two-day rainstorm in July and a burst pipe in December. The Council’s decision to stay in the building was made before it happened.

A concern for Katz is where the city government will move if it leaves city hall. The offices are currently scattered across several city-owned buildings.

None of them can be signed City Hall because they were built with transit funds for use by River Valley Transit.

The police are in a building which, by an act of restriction, can only be used as a transport museum or for recreational purposes.

If the decision is made to stay at City Hall, it must be brought into compliance with the ADA and codes. The latest ballpark estimate for this is $6 million.

The city is required to make the building ADA compliant due to a consent decree that resolved a lawsuit brought by the Center for Independent Living of North Central Pennsylvania, the local ADAPT chapter and four individuals.

They claimed that City Hall was not fully accessible to people with disabilities.

A handicapped-accessible ramp leading to the front doors was built, but other work related to the consent decree was stopped when the building was condemned.

The city Thursday was charged with violating the executive order by failing to submit a work plan to bring the town hall into compliance with the ADA.

U.S. Intermediate District Judge Matthew W. Brann was asked to scorn the city and impose a $350-a-day fine.