Jul. 24—SHAMOKIN DAM — Shamokin Dam continues to pursue legal action against Robert Grayston to force him to repair the former Phillips Motel.
Mayor Joe McGranaghan has complained that the former motel, vacant since 2015, is an "eyesore" and the condition of the buildings are in violation of the borough's building codes, leading Jim Emery of the Central Keystone Council of Governments, which enforces the borough's building codes, to take Grayston to district court last year.
In response to District Judge Jeffrey Mensch's order that he present a cleanup plan to the borough, Grayston submitted a letter explaining how he has made structural repairs "in excess of $20,000" as well as paid about $300,000 in taxes, interest, cleanup and maintenance as he's been marketing the property for sale.
Unfortunately, Grayston said, finding a buyer for the 3.47-acre property he purchased for $750,000 in September 2019 has been a challenge due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
"We plan on maintaining the site in its current status, while being marketed, to give us the best opportunities to repurpose the buildings, open the motel back up or to develop the site into another use," he said in a written plan sent to the court and borough.
Emery could not be reached for comment Friday.
Borough Manager Ed Hovenstine said Grayston's written plan is "vague" and McGranaghan said it doesn't indicate how he will address the code violations.
"We're very sympathetic to him, but we have to be consistent" in enforcing the borough's building codes, McGranaghan said.
He said the property located along Routes 11-15 and 11th Avenue is also a highly visible eyesore.
If Grayston submits a plan the borough and judge agree with, McGranaghan said a return to district court may be avoided.
"We're trying to work with him," Hovenstine said.